What to do when someone goes down from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) offshore due to water aspiration, electrocution or other heart issues? It’s time to get out the automated external defibrillator (AED). There are a lot of AEDs on the market, they all have the same purpose (shock the heart into a normal rhythm), all are easy to use and the prices vary. So what’s so special about Zoll's AED Plus?
This defibrillator has some features that will help the boater as well as the neophyte rescuer. First, it’s water resistant which speaks for itself in a marine environment. Second, unlike most other AEDs, the Zoll Plus runs on 10 photo flash lithium batteries that are user replaceable so if you’re cruising in distant waters, there’s no need to hunt down a replacement proprietary battery pack. Third, the pair of electrode pads are connected so it’s only one piece which is easy to place on the victim’s chest and there’s a handy red cross in the middle where your hands go when it’s time for CPR. The pads are also designed to last 5 years which is great because this is a piece of emergency equipment you won’t pay much attention to unless it’s needed.
About half of SCA victims don’t need a shock but they will need CPR or chest compressions and rescue breathing. The Zoll Plus has audio and visual prompts to guide you through a resuscitation sequence. It’ll tell you to push harder or faster, and it will show you the depth of compressions on its LCD screen (1 ½” to 2’ for an adult). So not only will this AED guide you through administering a shock if one is needed, it will also give you the confidence to do all that is possible to sustain the victim. It even comes with a razor and towel – those pads don’t stick to hairy chests.
Paul Zoll was a Harvard trained doctor who made some early inroads into cardiac medicine and in 1956 was the first to perform closed chest defibrillation. That doesn’t mean that a product bearing his name is the best, but it certainly does lend the brand a bit of credibility. The Zoll AED Plus retails for $1649, weighs about 7 pounds, comes with a 5 year warranty, and measures roughly 5”x10”x12”, about the size of a ream of printing paper.