Cardiac emergencies at sea tackled with portable ForeRunner defibrillators

Los Angeles 17 March 1999 Princess Cruises, one of the three largest cruise lines in the entire industry, has equipped its whole existing fleet of ten ships with more than 65 automatic external defibrillators (AEDs). The lightweight portable devices are developed and distributed via Hewlett-Packard's Seattle-based subsidiary Heartstream. The ForeRunner defibrillators allow shipboard medical staff to provide the required qualitative care in the event a passenger gets a sudden cardiac arrest while being at sea.

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Princess Cruises, one of the three largest cruise lines in the entire industry, has equipped its whole existing fleet of ten ships with more than 65 automatic external defibrillators (AEDs). The lightweight portable devices are developed and distributed via Hewlett-Packard's Seattle-based subsidiary Heartstream. The ForeRunner defibrillators allow shipboard medical staff to provide the required qualitative care in the event a passenger gets a sudden cardiac arrest while being at sea.

Princess Cruises' fleet travels the seas across some 150 different itineraries and calls at over 220 ports all over the world. From the start, the company always has been pioneering in the field of maritime medicine, and as such has been the first to introduce telemedicine applications between its ships and land-based medical specialists. The portable ForeRunner devices will now complement the larger defibrillators which already are being used in all Princess shipboard medical centres.

The Heartstream ForeRunner AEDs have been designed by means of leading-edge low-energy SMART biphasic waveform technology, in order to optimize the therapy to each individual patient. All present external defibrillators use a monophasic waveform, in which the current flows in one direction through the body, from one electrode pad to the other. In the ForeRunner AED, the direction of the current is reversed midway through the pulse. This biphasic waveform, already applied in implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs), requires far less energy to achieve comparable defibrillation efficacy than a monophasic one.

The use of this low-energy biphasic waveform technology has equally enabled the ForeRunner designers to dramatically reduce both size and weight. As a result, this allows a wide range of emergency first-responders to deliver time-critical defibrillation and perform an ultra-fast resuscitation effort to victims of a sudden cardiac arrest. Especially for this type of patients, fast response and treatment largely enhances their chances for recovery.

In any case, passengers at sea obtain a higher level of assurance with regard to the quality of medical care on board the cruise ship. At present, all ten Princess shipboard medical centres tend a complete stock of equipment and supplies. In addition, every centre is staffed by a full-time team of British-registered physicians and nurses. With the arrival of the ForeRunner units, Princess Cruises demonstrates its ongoing commitment to offering the latest technology in lifesaving equipment for cardiac emergencies in particular, and high quality medical care in general to all of its passengers.


Leslie Versweyveld

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