Source: Times of Malta Date: Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Heart disease, in general, is the biggest killer in the modern world. It is a sobering thought that each year, in particular, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) causes death of over 280,000 in the USA. In Europe, with 46 countries and with a population on the European continent of 730 million, the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest is estimated at approximately 1 per 1000 inhabitants per year, thus involving 700,000 people. Malta, surely and sadly, is not immune. These deaths may occur everywhere and anyone can be a victim of this silent killer. Many of these deaths are avoidable if the appropriate therapy and treatment is available within a few minutes (3-5 mins) of the onset of SCA. The placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in the workplace can save lives and allow corporate entities to deliver a ‘Heartsafe Environment’ to workers and customers.

With the above concept in mind, Gozo Channel Co. Ltd has invested in the acquisition of five state-of-the-art Automated External Devices – the Powerheart G3 Plus from Cardiac Science.  As explained by Gozo Channel Chairman, Mr Paul Curmi, ‘Gozo Channel services thousands of passengers who make use of the ferry service between Malta and Gozo every day and night. With the incidence of Heart Related Deaths on the increase, we are to make in-roads into reducing this world-wide pandemic. Not only do we believe in safeguarding our customers and staff from ill fate caused by SCA, but we want to spearhead a strong culture of emergency response within the Maltese corporations.’

It’s estimated that more than 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. A victim’s chances of survival are reduced by 7 to 10 percent with every minute that passes without CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and defibrillation. ‘That is why’, continues Mr Curmi, ‘selected members of Gozo Channel ferry crew have also undergone training in Basic Life Support and the use of AED. This certified training was provided by The Emergency Response Rescue Corps (ERRC).’

Few attempts at resuscitation succeed after 10 minutes. It is estimated that the median response interval (from call to ambulance arrival) is approximately 8-10 minutes (on land) – which means that by the time the emergency personnel arrive at a victim, the likelihood of survival from SCA will be extremely remote. This response time will of course be longer when a victim collapses while travelling at sea – hence the investment by Gozo Channel of an AED on each ferry and one at each Terminal, in Mgarr and Cirkewwa.

Many world-wide studies have shown, without doubt, that early defibrillation saves valuable lives and by placing AEDs in corporations, workplaces and public places much sorrow and hardships could be spared. By making this life-saving investment, corporations can provide a Heartsafe environment that protects our most valuable assets – our people – from Sudden Cardiac Death.