Feb. 22, 2018 - Can medical drones reduce the time to cardiac treatment by getting an automated external defibrillator (AED) into the hands of a bystander?
Preliminary studies suggest that drones may make a life-saving difference in providing emergency care to cardiac arrest patients, especially those in a rural setting.
The American Heart Association estimates that more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs) occur in the United States every year. Seventy percent of these occur in homes. While multiple studies have shown that AEDs can significantly increase chances of survival, a critical factor is the amount of time that elapses from victim discovery to treatment.
What are the potential benefits of drone-delivered AEDs?
Drone-delivered AEDs have the potential to be a transformative innovation in the provision of emergency care to cardiac arrest patients, especially those who arrest in a private or rural setting.
— Pulver, Wei, Mann, 2016
What does the research show?
Research into the practical use of medical drones for the delivery of AEDs is still in its very early stages and much work and testing remains, along with the development of appropriate regulatory guidelines.
A Canadian study shows that survival rates decline by 23 percent for every minute that passes between the onset of cardiac arrest and the start of defibrillation. Pre-placement of static AEDs to public buildings or venues is not extensive enough and rarely helps those in homes where the majority of OHCAs occur.
Two recent studies, one from Salt Lake City in 2016 and another from the Toronto metro region in 2017, used mathematical models to look at how a systematic, geographical placement of medical drones equipped with AEDs might reduce the time to cardiac treatment by getting an AED much more quickly into the hands of a bystander.
While the Salt Lake City and Toronto models differ in important respects, they both theoretically show that medical drones equipped with AEDs can be deployed from optimally located launch sites across a large metro area to ensure a much faster travel time than via traditional ground transport.
Has anyone tested drone delivery of AEDs in the field?
A preliminary study out of Sweden was published in June, 2017. Swedish researchers operated an eight-rotor drone from a fire station in a suburb of Stockholm to deliver an AED to locations where OHCAs had occurred between 2006 and 2014. Over a 72-hour period they conducted 18 remotely operated, beyond line-of-sight flights. The drone-delivered AED arrived in every case faster than EMS, with a median reduction in response time of more than 16 minutes.
(more after video)
The Peel region of Ontario may see testing of the delivery of AEDs to remote locations as early as next year.
Learn more about this research on USFA.fema.gov
In theory this sounds badass, but we need to see it practiced in real -time to see the benefits. It would be a huge jump in medical tech and saving lives.
This proves that technology could be used for good. Great idea.