In a first for medical history, a drone has helped save the life of a cardiac arrest victim. The autonomous drone, created by Everdrone, delivered a defibrillator to a doctor attending a 71-year-old man in Trollhättan, Sweden, on December 9.
The man, who does not wish to be identified, was shoveling snow from his driveway when he suffered the cardiac arrest. The Automated External Defibrillator (AED) arrived in just over three minutes and enabled Dr. Mustafa Ali to initiate life-saving measures before the arrival of an ambulance.
The cardiac arrest sufferer, who has made a full recovery and has returned home, said: “I can’t put into words how thankful I am to this new technology and the speedy delivery of the defibrillator. If it wasn’t for the drone I probably wouldn’t be here.
“This is a truly revolutionary technology that needs to be implemented all over; sudden cardiac arrests can happen to anyone, not just old people with arteriosclerosis.”
Dr. Ali explained to Everdrone how the incident proceeded and the difference that the rapid delivery of a defibrillator made. He said: “I was on my way to work at the local hospital when I looked out the car window and saw a man collapsed in his driveway. I immediately understood that something was wrong and rushed to help. The man had no pulse, so I started doing CPR while asking another bystander to call 112 [the emergency number for Sweden].
“Just minutes later, I saw something flying above my head. It was a drone with a defibrillator!”
Everdrone reported that thanks to the quick action of Dr. Ali and the delivery of the defibrillator, the patient’s life was saved.
In August 2021, researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden delivered the results from a pilot project that studied the use of drones to deliver defibrillators to real-life alerts of suspected cardiac arrest.
In over 20 percent of the emergencies documented in the project, published in The European Heart Journal, the defibrillator-delivery drone arrived on target and often before the ambulance.
The test took place in the cities of Gothenburg and Kungälv in western Sweden during the summer of 2020 and saw drones dispatched to 12 alerts of suspected cardiac arrests. It successfully delivered the defibrillators in 11 of these 12 cases.
The study was used to implement several improvements to the system, which at the time was unable to fly in the dark and in rainy conditions or during winds of above eight meters per second.
Andreas Claesson, associate professor at the Center for Resuscitation Science at the Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset, Karolinska Institutet, led the study. He said: “Every minute without treatment in the early stages reduces the chance of survival by around 10 percent, and that is why we believe this new method of delivery has the potential to save lives.”
The drone delivery system operated by Everdrone was developed in conjunction with the Center for Resuscitation Science at Karolinska Institutet, SOS Alarm, and Region Västra Götaland.
CEO of Everdrone, Mats Sällström, said: “This is an excellent real-world example of how Everdrone’s cutting-edge drone technology, fully integrated with emergency dispatch, can minimize the time for access to life-saving Automated External Defibrillator equipment.”
The defibrillator delivery system currently serves around 200,000 citizens in Sweden but is expected to expand to further European locations during this year.