Were there any lingering doubt about the contribution drones can make to emergency response activity, it has now been dispelled by a Lancet study of Swedish drone startup Everdrone’s performance in rushing life-saving defibrillators (AEDs) to cardiac arrest victims.
In its current issue, Lancet Digital Health details the findings of a 13-month study of Everdrone’s performance dispatching its drones with AEDs to out-of-hospital heart attack scenarios in Sweden’s greater Gothenburg area. Overseen by The Center for Resuscitation Science at the Karolinska Institutet, the trial ran from April 21, 2021 to May 31, 2022, during which period UAVs beat ground ambulances in arriving in nearly 70% of calls, with an average time of 3:14 minutes.
According to Andreas Claesson, associate professor of emergency medicine at the Karolinska Institutet, those results prove the effectiveness of drones as critical response assets in getting AEDs to cardiac patients as fast as possible.
“This study closes the door on any remaining questions regarding the system’s feasibility,” said Claesson, who was impressed by the speed and consistency of drones’ arrival. “The findings from the collected data are conclusive – two times out of three, 67% of the time, the drone arrived in good time before the ambulance.”
As chance would have it, the trial period covered Everdrone’s response to a December 9, 2021 cardiac emergency in Trollhättan, resulting in what is considered the first life ever saved by AED flown in by drone.
Yet despite the precedence of that stand-out aerial intervention, Claesson says it’s the results of the wider study that prove the utility of UAVs in defibrillator deployment in daily life.
“The data has been collected during a longer period, from a great number of incident reports, in a complex environment – all the while (with drones) ‘competing’ against ambulance-based first responders”, explains Claesson. “When considering that for every minute saved in getting assistance and a defibrillator to a person experiencing heart failure, the chance of survival increases by 10% – the time saving is really significant.”
Though ground services did manage to arrive at emergency sites first one third of the time, even in that minority of second place finishes Everdrone craft proved their ability to perform in a wide variety of weather conditions, at day or night, and in winter as well as summer.
Daniel Blecher, head of Everdrone’s customer operations, says now that the study has established the advantages of drone transport of AEDs to cardiac victims, the company will focus on improving its tech to get UAVs arriving even faster.
“What we’re looking at now is to keep on shaving off time,” Blecher said. “Our engineers are continuously optimizing the process, and we’re always committed to minimizing response times. Excitingly, our next generation of drones, set to launch shortly, is poised to cut an additional 30% from our already exceptional response time.”
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