Defibrillator carrying drones could be set to alter the future of AED (automated external defibrillator) access for the public.
New research conducted has shown that drones can reach a patient in an out of hospital cardiac arrest faster than an ambulance would, thus dramatically improving survival chances.
The fully automated eight-rota drones can fly, unimpeded by traffic at up to 50mph and deliver an AED to critically ill casualties. It’s suggested that the use of this technology can drastically improve the rate of NHS response units meeting their ‘eight minute’ response target. If an AED arrives on the scene of an incident then the clock stops in terms of response time, regardless of whether a paramedic is onsite too. In recent years, the response times have dramatically slipped below the set standards. Only one of the 13 Ambulance services currently in the UK are hitting response times.
Research has suggested that in event of an out of hospital cardiac arrest, every minute that passes between the collapsing of the person and then receiving defibrillation, the chance of survival decreases by 10%.
A trial run of the technology has been done by the Swedish company, Karolinska Institute. The drones responded to 18 simulated cardiac arrests within a 6-mile radius, beating the ambulance to the scene every time.
Within three seconds, the drones were airborne, on the way to the scene of the cardiac arrest. This allowed for an average time of up to 5 minutes 21 seconds to reach the desired location, comparing this to the average time of 22 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.
The drone’s developers are hoping that the process of attaching the defibrillator pads when the drone arrives with the defib will be easy enough that the public will attempt it. All whilst being guided via a speaker which is also integrated within the drone or via a public access phone call on a mobile.
Sweden’s Transport Agency (STA) have certified the drones. Another feature of the technology is an integrated GPS system, a HD camera and 3G operating systems.
Quoted via the research team “Saving 16 minutes is likely to be clinically important, none the less, further test flights, technological development, and evaluation of integration with dispatch centres and aviation administrators are needed.”
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