Can Drones Save Lives in Time? Swedish Research Says Yes

Drones have so far served a wide variety of different purposes since its modern inception to the common public. It’s universal mobility even prompted many kinds of businesses to consider developing their own fleets for commercial use.

But perhaps the drone’s most important application will be that of its potential and vital use as an emergency response unit. Why? It might just be able to respond much faster than your local ambulance.

Response and Relief at a Flight’s Notice

Credit via Flickr by Colin.C.James

The Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has recently conducted an experiment on whether drones modified for medical emergencies could actually reduce overall response time. Spoiler alert, the answer is a definite yes, and the reason is quite straightforward. However, there a couple of technical reasons, as well as background information, that you need know to explain exactly why.

First, cardiac arrest is one of the most lethal medical emergencies that could ever happen outside of a medical institution. In the United States, surviving a random heart attack without any active medical monitoring is as low as 8 percent. This is where the drone idea come in. It has been proposed that equipping drones with an automated external defibrillator  (AED) could greatly help in providing timely medical aid to such emergencies.

The verdict? According to the tests approved by the Swedish Transportation Agency, the recorded median (average) time from service dispatch the actual launch of the drone was a mere 3 seconds. At 3 seconds, your tiny EMS unit is already up and on the way to the scene.

This showed that drones are not just advantageous due to maneuverability. The mere act of getting it off the road already made it faster than average EMS units, because they could literally fly off towards the scene in an instant. As for the overall time saved, drones on average could arrive at the scene an entire 16 minutes earlier than most emergency response systems.

Drones as Literal Life Extenders

Credit via Flickr by Timothy Wildey

Drones as emergency response units is a concept that is actually quite easy to understand. They’re fast, agile, and are able to traverse urban areas without the need to directly face vehicle traffic. However, their form factor makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to provide complete medical assistance. That, and the obvious fact that drones can’t really fly these people to the nearest medical institution.

And yet, emergency resuscitation may just be a medical drone’s greatest advantage in beating the odds, to help victims survive what could otherwise have been a completely lethal incident. This makes medical drones potentially effective life extenders, holding the line for the real EMS unit to arrive and save the day.

To this end, it might worth considering to eliminate most of the typical disadvantages drones currently have. Namely, their effective range and use duration. At the moment, the experiment only included areas about 10 kilometers from the deployment site. Being that most drones today never last more than 30 minutes, this could be a rather substantial modification challenge to solve.

Source: JAMA, via ScienceDaily

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