Drones Carrying Defibrillators Could Aid Heart Emergencies

Drones Carrying Defibrillators Could Aid Heart Emergencies

The drone was placed at a fire station near Stockholm and was dispatched in October to 18 locations in a 6.2 mile radius where out-of-hospital cardiac arrests had occurred between 2006 and 2014. The drone consistently beat typical EMS response times, by nearly 17 minutes in half of the cases.

AEDs have simple enough instructions that just about anyone can figure out how to use them effectively, says Kurz, whose daughter has a congenital heart disease and is in fourth grade.

Cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly stops beating. Drones can be activated by a dispatcher and sent to an address provided by a 911 caller and may carry an automated external defibrillator (AED) to the location so that a bystander can use it.

Defibrillators have been increasingly installed in public places in recent years, however many members of the public do not think to look for one in an emergency. These devices typically have electrodes that attach to the chest with sticky pads and deliver shocks based on what a computer in the defibrillator determines the person needs. The drone arrived more quickly than EMS in all cases with a median reduction in response time of 16:39 minutes, the study found.

Claesson said it's not clear if drones can reduce response times in real-life situations. The drone was outfitted with a Global Positioning System, a high-definition camera and an AED, then was launched from a fire station north of Stockholm.

Eighteen times in a row during the simulation, drones arrived before the hypothetical emergency services. Researchers now are working with emergency services to dispatch the drone for real emergencies. And the median time from dispatch to drone launch was 3 seconds, while it took emergency medical services a median time of 3 minutes to hit the road.

The authors point out that limitations to their study include the small number of flights, the short distances involved and the fact that the weather was favourable on each occasion.

The drone used in the study has a range of more than nine miles, and is capable of speeds of up to 45 mph, Claesson said. The average dispatch time for an ambulance responding to a real emergency was 22 minutes.

"Ninety percent of people who collapse outside of a hospital don't make it".

"The time savings reported in this letter would clearly provide a meaningful improvement in the outcome of victims of cardiac arrest", Pons said. Death can occur within minutes without treatment to restore a normal heartbeat, ideally CPR and use of a defibrillator.

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