Could defibrillator drones help to save lives? We love a bit of tech on our first aid courses and often talk about this but here we look at it in a bit more depth.

80% of out of hospital cardiac arrests (where someones heart stops pumping) happen in the home and without a defibrillator being used, the casualty has very little chance of survival. For every minute that passes the casualty’s survival rate goes down by 10%.

The defibrillators that we see in locked cabinets out in the public are great but we very rarely see them in residential areas. So could a drone carrying an AED to your location be a better option?

Now this may seem like a thing of the distant future but this has already been successfully done in Sweden. A 71-year-old man in the Swedish city of Trollhattan suffered a cardiac arrest outside of his house.

A bystander who happened to be a  doctor rushed to help and began performing CPR. This keeps oxygenated blood to his brain and his heart and an ambulance was called.

With the ambulance dispatched it was now a race to get the defibrillator to the scene to get the shock administered as soon as possible. His heart was in an irregular rhythm and it needed to be shocked to get it back into a normal rhythm.

The drone was part of a trial and was sent and took just 3 minutes to get to the scene and were ahead of the paramedics who had to deal with the city’s traffic.

The doctor used the defibrillator to restart the man’s heart, and the patient went on to make a full recovery.

So – will we get them in the UK? Short answer yes! It’s already been tested in Wales where the drones did practice flights of nearly 60 miles and dropped an AED attached to a parachute. The test flights worked and the results showed that a 3 mile flight would take less than 3 minutes.

Dr Nigel Rees, head of research and innovation at the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, said: ‘This has the potential to save more lives from cardiac arrests. The survival rate among cardiac arrests that happen out of hospital is only about 8 per cent.

‘Drones won’t replace defibrillators in public places but will be a valuable add-on.’

Research is still being done on defibrillator drones but we are pretty sure that it won’t be long before these are in mainstream use.

Defibrillators are very easy to use and are designed to be used by the general public. On our first aid courses we have our students practice with AEDs and they are always amazed with how easy they are to use. It’s impossible to shock someone who doesn’t need it so they are extremely safe to use.

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