In the event of cardiac arrest, drones deliver defibrillators more quickly than ambulances

In the event of cardiac arrest, drones deliver defibrillators more quickly than ambulances

While they are making headlines for their military application, drones also have the potential to save lives by delivering a cardiac defibrillator more quickly than an ambulance. A Swedish study demonstrates their real interest.

In the event of cardiac arrest, the speed of intervention and the use of an external defibrillator are key elements for the diagnosis. We usually say that every minute gained means 10% more survival! Based on this observation, a Swedish study has evaluated since 2020 the time for delivering a defibrillator by drone versus by ambulance.

The drone arrives before the ambulance in 2 out of 3 cases!

Although early intervention with an automatic external defibrillator greatly increases the chances of survival, these defibrillators are not available everywhere, especially in homes where most cardiac arrests occur.

To reduce the defibrillation time with an automatic defibrillator, Karolinska Institutet, together with the Västra Götaland region, SOS Alarm and the drone operator Everdrone, has been testing since 2020 the possibility of sending a drone with an AED at the same time as ‘an ambulance is alerted. The project covered an area of ​​around 200,000 people in western Sweden. A first study carried out in summer 2020 in Gothenburg and Kungälv showed that the idea was feasible and safe.

In the study, drones delivered an AED in 55 cases of suspected cardiac arrest. In 37 of these cases, delivery took place before an ambulance arrived, or 67%, with an average advance of 3 minutes and 14 seconds. In the 18 cases of actual cardiac arrest, the caller successfully used the AED in 6 cases, or 33%. Shock was recommended by the device in two cases and in one case the patient survived.

Make it easier for the caller to use the defibrillator

This study shows that such a strategy works all year round, summer and winter, in daylight and in darkness. “Our study now shows once and for all that it is possible to deliver automatic defibrillators with drones and that this can be done several minutes before the ambulance arrives in the event of acute cardiac arrest“, explained Andreas Claesson. “This time saving means that the health emergency center could ask the person who called the ambulance to retrieve and use the AED in many cases before the ambulance arrives“.

Drones have already been tested to deliver a graft (for a kidney transplant), blood bags or medications more quickly.