EMSWorld reports that drones may soon be able to deliver lifesaving defibrillators to people suffering cardiac arrest in areas not quickly reached by ambulances.
According to statistics from the American Heart Association, of the more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year in the United States, nearly 90 percent of them are fatal.
The survival rate could be dramatically improved, experts said, if bystanders would perform CPR and use portable devices called automated external defibrillators, or AEDs. Research shows brain cell death starts three minutes after the heart stops beating and every minute that elapses without defibrillation means a 10 percent decrease in the odds of survival.
Drones are being tested to see if they can swiftly and safely bring defibrillators to those in distress. Some drones use a cord to lower the AED to the ground, while others land and a bystander removes the AED.
A Canadian study published in Circulation last year, found that when compared to ambulances, using drones in the Toronto area cut AED delivery times in urban areas by 6 minutes, 43 seconds and slashed it in rural neighborhoods by 10 minutes, 34 seconds in most cases.
Likewise, a Swedish study published in JAMA last year showed that drones deployed in Stockholm took an average of 5 minutes, 21 seconds to reach their destination—more than 16 minutes faster than ambulances.
The city of Reno, Nevada, was selected last month to participate in the Federal Aviation Administration’s drone pilot program that will help determine how to regulate and safely integrate drones into the U.S. airspace. The city will partner with drone delivery startup Flirtey to deliver AEDs.