Health Care

Drones carrying defibrillators could aid heart emergencies

Drones carrying defibrillators could aid heart emergencies

The drone arrived more quickly than EMS in all cases with a median reduction in response time of 16:39 minutes.

Researchers tested using small drones to carry heart defibrillators to homes where people had cardiac arrests.

The drone's average arrival time in 18 flights to an emergency location was 5 minutes, 21 seconds, compared to real emergencies in which an ambulance took 22 minutes.

"Now the idea of doing this in real life with real patients, when minutes matter, can be demonstrated".

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death worldwide, killing more than 6 million people each year.

The typical cardiac arrest patient is a 70-year-old male, he says, which means their spouses - who may not be trained on how to use an AED - would most likely be the ones using it in an emergency situation.

Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest happens to about 55 of 100,000 people in the USA annually, with only an 8 percent to 10 percent survival rate.

The researchers reached the same conclusion after analyzing cardiac arrest data in Sweden, focusing on towns near Stockholm that don't have enough emergency medical resources to serve summer vacationers.

Led by Andreas Claesson, RN, PhD, with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, the team sent a GPS-enabled drone to a specific location where a previous cardiac arrest incident had occurred.

Drones are increasingly being tested or used in a variety of settings, including to deliver retail goods to consumers in remote areas, search for lost hikers and help police monitor traffic or crowds.

Their study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Cardiac arrest may occur with no warning and is often fatal unless the heart can be restarted quickly. "We know that for each minute that CPR and defibrillation are delayed, survival from cardiac arrest decreases". Automated external defibrillators are made to give spoken instruction so anyone can use them and are available in public spots. The drone, which cost about $20,000, was equipped with a global positioning system, a high-definition camera and integrated with 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. "We know nothing about bystander interaction", says Claesson. "The outcomes of OHCA using the drone-delivered AED by bystanders vs resuscitation by EMS should be studied".

Dr. Michael Kurz, an emergency medicine professor and American Heart Association volunteer, sees the potential for AED-carrying drones to help save lives.


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