Drones Carrying Defibrillators Could Aid Heart Emergencies

Drones carrying defibrillators could aid heart emergencies

Drones carrying defibrillators could aid heart emergencies

A study has shown that use of drones as first responders to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) could reduce response time by over 16 minutes - the time that could critical for survival of the patient. The drone arrived more quickly than EMS ambulances in all cases, with a median reduction in response time of 16 minutes, 39 seconds.

Drones could be the difference between life and death for people suffering a heart attack.

For the study, researchers pitted the drone's performance in test flights conducted over 72 hours in October 2016 to the actual dispatch and arrival times for EMS in real cardiac arrest cases that occurred from 2006 to 2014. But experts say the results in a Swedish study are remarkable and proof that the idea is worth exploring.

In 2016 in the US, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occurred outside of the hospital and only 12 percent of those affected survived, according to the American Heart Association. Andreas Claesson, RN, PhD, and his colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm compared the time to delivery of an AED using autonomous drones for simulated OHCAs versus EMS ambulances.

Drones could help save the lives of heart attack victims by delivering defibrillators faster than an ambulance can arrive at the scene, according to a report Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This shift might be especially helpful for improving survival odds in remote rural areas and resort communities that swell in population during the summer months, Claesson said by email.

"I'm convinced that the possibility of using drones in medical emergencies is enormous", he said.

Only around one in ten people survives a cardiac arrest outside hospital.

More than 350,000 Americans had a cardiac arrest in a nonmedical setting a year ago, the American Heart Association says. Drones aren't just good for getting your shopping in an instant - by carrying defibrillators they could prove to be life-saving if your heart stops beating. Automated external defibrillators are made to give spoken instruction so anyone can use them and are available in public spots.

They launched the drone from a fire station within about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from homes where people had previous cardiac arrests. The 5.7kg drone was equipped with a global positioning system (GPS), a high definition camera and an autopilot software system.

In the study's video footage simulating a rescue, a drone soars over residential rooftops and then lands gently in a backyard. Her work can be found here.

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