Every passing minute between cardiac arrest and access to defibrillators or CPR, the possibility of survival drops by 10%. Following the recent trend of ‘air-‘to-air’ services, drone are making headlines for its quick emergency services. Apart from delivering Amazon goods to customers and offering surveillance capabilities, drones could save lives of people who have suffered cardiac arrest. According to researchers in Sweden, drones could be the new life-guard for patients of cardiac arrest, as drones carrying defibrillators arrived 16 minutes faster than other emergency services on an average. The research was conducted by Jacob Hollenberg, director of the centre for resuscitation science at the Karolinska Institute based in Stockholm.
Defibrillator Carrying Drones
The drone was developed by the Swedish Transportation Agency and weighed 5.7 kg. The drone will carry a 763g automated external defibrillators (AED) for the patients suffering from cardiac arrest. The eight-rotor aerial, unmanned drones, with a maximum traveling speed of 47 mph were stored at a fire station of north of Stockholm.
In October 2016, two licensed pilots dispatched the defibrillator carrying drones 18 times over a 72 hour period using GPS coordinates to unseen locations where cardiac arrest within a 10 km radius was detected between 2006 and 2014. Outcome of this experiment was published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), which revealed that the median time from call to dispatch of the emergency services was nearly 3 minutes as compared to 3 sec for the drone. Whereas, the median time from dispatch to arrival of the drone was 5 minutes and 21 seconds as compared to 22 minutes for the emergency services.
Less number of flights bound to small distances were the limiting factors in the research conducted. Moreover, good weather and changes in traffic patterns added to the list of limiting factors. There was no comparison drawn between the outcome of resuscitation from emergency services and bystander using automated external defibrillators in the conducted research. However, John stated that using defibrillators carried by drones were relatively easy and fast.
Future Prospects in Healthcare
John hopes that the defibrillator carrying drones could be deployed soon in Sweden in around one to two years. Before deployment of these drones, a large scale trial needs to be carried out and needs an approval from the aviation authority. Currently, according to laws in countries such as U.K. and Sweden, there is an increasing need for drones to be operated in locations that are within sight. John further states that these drones could be used for future healthcare emergencies including road traffic accidents and allergic reactions.