Recently the Club purchased an AED, which will be taken on all Club dives, including on boat dives. This raises the question: “‘Can an AED be used on a wet surface?” The advice we have been given is as follows:
Although it is not ideal an AED can be used on a boat. There have been safety concerns regarding potential electrical shock hazards to people operating an AED on a wet surface. It is safe to use the AED if the patient is lying on snow or ice since they are not good conductors of electricity.
When possible, defibrillation should be performed on a dry surface. Bystanders not involved in the rescue should move as far off the wet surface as possible. If the patient cannot be safely and quickly moved to a dry surface, ie on a boat, rescuers which must remain on the wet surface should follow safety precautions that make defibrillation with the AED safe. These include avoiding direct contact with the patient, correctly applying the self-adhesive pads, and making sure that the surface of the patient’s chest is dry with no water between the pads.
Trying to provide a dry barrier wherever possible is the key, slipping on dry rubber shoes for example and every one standing away during the defibrillation.
Electricity has what’s known as a splash zone so if there could be a dedicated defibrillator who is dry with dry rubber shoes and everyone else involved could somehow step away ie sit on the boat gunnels with feet off the floor during the defibrillation then that’s probably the best way of doing it until technology provides a better solution. The risk to bystanders involved is low but there is still a potential risk depending on how close they are to the defibrillation and their vulnerability ie if they have a pre existing heart condition.