An autonomous Swedish drone has helped save the life of a 71yo severe cardiac arrest patient. The drone delivered a defibrillator to a doctor who was helping the man after he became ill while shovelling the snow outside his home in Trollhattan.
The man wished to remain anonymous but told the BBC it was “fantastic that the assistance had arrived so quickly to the scene. EverDrone, the company behind the accessible machines, said it meant that the life-saving defibrillation could begin even before an ambulance was able to arrive.
Everdrone says it took just over three minutes from the alarm being raised until the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was delivered by the Swedish drone. While the patient does not remember much of the events of the day, his wife has told him he was “very lucky” after “everything went black” while he was shovelling his driveway.
Dr Mustafa Ali, who happened to be driving past at the time, rushed to help and told Everdrone: “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.
“The man had no pulse, so I started doing CPR while asking another bystander to call 112 (the Swedish emergency number).
“Just minutes later, I saw something flying above my head. It was a drone with a defibrillator.”
Everdrone chief executive Mats Sallstrom believes the technology played a part in a team effort to save the patient’s life. “It’s a medical doctor doing CPR, it’s the early defibrillation, it’s the treatment in the ambulance on the way to the hospital,” he told the BBC. “It’s important to understand that there’s a chain of events saving the person’s life, and the drone is a very critical part of how that system works.”
The Swedish drone is a partnership between the Karolinska Institutet – Sweden’s largest medical university – together with the national emergency operator SOS Alarm, Region Vastra Gotaland and Everdrone. Although the drone is autonomous, there is also a “pilot in command” – who oversees the operation for safety reasons and can obtain clearance to take off from air traffic control.
“This might seem like a huge process but roughly 60 seconds from the alarm we can be on our way,” said Mr Sallstrom. Time is very much of the essence, the chance of survival decreases by 7-10% with each minute following collapse, the company says. With different cases coming to the forefront, such as sporting collapses and complications coming from Covid-19, the drones usefulness is expanding out and the company hopes to be able to match the needs across the globe.
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