Kickstart my heart: Drone defibrillator delivery could save thousands of lives

Every year, cardiac arrests trigger the abrupt loss of heart function for 350,000 Americans, making it the leading cause of natural death in the country, according to the American Heart Association. Today’s drone manufacturers are taking steps to reduce this grim statistic.

With each minute that passes following the onset of symptoms, the chances of survival decrease by ten percent, meaning that help often arrives too late. Starting in 2018, drone maker Flirtey and U.S.-based ambulance service Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) aim to start a trend that could save thousands of lives, using drones to deliver automated external defibrillators (AED) to victims.

When REMSA’s 911 center in Reno, Nevada, receives a cardiac arrest call, a Flirtey drone, carrying an AED, will soon be dispatched to the scene of the emergency. That means that AEDs can be deployed to the scene of the incident well in advance of the arrival of EMTs and ambulances, shaving precious minutes off response time.

“We have the ability to deliver lifesaving aid into the hands of people who need it,” said Flirtey CEO Matthew Sweeny. “Why aren’t we, as a society, doing it already? This is one of the most important uses of drone delivery technology, and we believe that by democratizing access to this lifesaving aid, our technology will save more than a million lives over the decades to come.”

AEDs, which are often stationed in public spaces like airports and malls, are designed to be used by non-medical personnel, meaning that as soon as the device arrives, it can be used. If a drone can deliver the device, and individual that called 911 is able to use it. Depending on the location, drones would be able to beat ambulance times by minutes, exponentially increasing the chances of survival.

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