Thanks to drones, condoms have rained down on villages in rural Africa. Remote islands have quickly received medical supplies, while researchers have winged biological specimens to distant pathology labs.
Now, a research group in Sweden is buzzing about yet another type of life-saving flight for the unmanned aerial vehiclesâ€”emergency medical flights.
Reenacting 18 real-life emergency calls of cardiac arrest to emergency medical services in NorrtÃ¤lje, Sweden, researchers dispatched a drone carrying an automated external defibrillator (AED) from the local fire station. The drone reached the site of the emergency in around five minutesâ€”about 16 minutes faster than emergency medical respondersâ€”researchers report Tuesday in JAMA.
In the event of cardiac arrest, a quick response is critical; saving 16 minutes could make the difference between life and death. Still, the researchers, led by Andreas Claesson of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, are careful not to overstate the results.
â€œSaving 16 minutes is likely to be clinically important,â€ the authors write. â€œNonetheless, further test flights, technological development, and evaluation of integration with dispatch centers and aviation administrators are needed.â€
For the study, the researchers used an eight-rotor, 5.7kg drone with a maximum cruising speed of 75km per hour. It was developed and certified by the Swedish Transportation Agency. The drone was equipped with a 763g AED that bystanders at the scene could easily use to try to revive a person in cardiac arrest.
In a 72-hour period, the researchers dispatched the drone to the out-of-sight locations of 18 emergency cardiac arrest reports, which were called in to the local authorities between 2006 and 2014. They were all within a 10km radius of the fire station, with a median flight distance of 3.2km.
The median time from reenacted emergency call to drone launch was three seconds, while the median EMS dispatch time was three minutes. On average, the drone arrived in a little over five minutes (fastest time was 1:15 and longest was 11:51). The EMS, on the other hand, arrived in about 22 minutes (fastest time was five minutes and longest was 38).
The authors note some limitations of the study, such as having only good weather for the small number of flights. And while AEDs are designed to be easy to use, itâ€™s unclear if bystanders would use them correctly and consistently, thus creating actual medical benefits to drone-dispatching. And of course, there’s also the issue of getting approval from agencies such as theÂ Federal Aviation Authority.
from Ars Technica http://ift.tt/2rsAFAv