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How drones could save cardiac attack victims

Drones could become so-called “flying doctors”, given that they can save cardiac attack victims by reducing the crucial intervention time after a heart attack.

With an average time of delivery faster than the time taken by a traditional emergency medical response vehicle to reach a victim, drones can make the difference between life and death for cardiac attack victims, according to a Swedish report.

In order to decide which is the more efficient way to intervene in such emergency cases, Swedish researchers tested drone delivery, which turned out to be the best solution in raising the chances of survival of cardiac arrest victims, because they can deliver a defibrillator to an out-of-hospital patient on average 16 minutes faster than a traditional emergency medical response vehicle could reach a victim.


The Swedish Transportation Agency equipped a drone with a defibrillator weighing 1.7 lbs and deployed it at a fire station just north of Stockholm. Eighteen test runs were carried out to locations within a 6.2 mile radius, with a median distance of two miles.

The time for the drone to arrive at the scene was, on average, 5:21 minutes against 22:00 minutes for an emergency medical services vehicle. In each case, the drone arrived quicker than the ambulance, slashing the response time with an on average off 16.39 minutes.

Tests near the Swedish capital made by researchers from the Karolinska Institutet concluded also that a remote-controlled drone equipped with an external defibrillator, and guided by GPS and cameras, could be activated by an emergency services dispatcher, reports.

According to the American Heart Association, each year, in the United States, there are more than 350,000 cardiac arrests. Currently, people stricken who suffer heart attacks outside of hospitals in the U.S. have only an eight to 10 percent survival rate. Therefore, defibrillation, which restarts the heart with an electric pulse, is seen as key factor to increasing survival, and the intervention must be made as soon as possible from the attack.

Madeline Gorthon