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Heart-Attack Patient Saved by a Defibrillator Delivering Drone in Sweden

In what is a first in medical history.

Heart-Attack Patient Saved by a Defibrillator Delivering Drone in Sweden
Everdrone's EMADE service drone Everdrone

Responding to health emergencies is usually a race against time, and drones are much faster than brandy-carrying St. Bernard dogs.

A company from Sweden, Everdrone, makes reaching hard-to-reach areas easier with its Emergency Aerial Delivery (EMADE) service drone. The drone was developed with the Center for Resuscitation Science at Karolinska Institutet, SOS Alarm, and Region Västra Götaland.

EMADE service is designed to allow emergency dispatchers to send a drone carrying the device to a caller’s home, kickstarting the medical response process before the ambulance arrives at the location. 

EMADE was put to its most difficult test ever on December 9 last year, according to Everdrone. A 71-year-old man in Trollhättan, Sweden, suffered an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest while shoveling snow. 

A cardiac arrest must be responded to within ten minutes of the incident, and it only took three minutes for EMADE to deliver an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to his home. A bystander, who fortunately happened to be a doctor, used the defibrillator on the patient after providing CPR.

With the combination of an immediate emergency call, the quick response from Dr. Mustafa Ali, and the swift delivery of a defibrillator, lifesaving measures through defibrillation could be initiated before the arrival of the ambulance, patient was saved. The time from the alarm until the AED was safely delivered at the location of the incident was just over three minutes. After the initial treatment on-site, the patient was rushed to the hospital and fully recovered.

“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”, said the patient and added, “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.”.

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For Dr. Mustafa Ali, the experience was just as gratifying, despite the gravity of the situation. 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”, says Dr. Ali. “I immediately understood that something was wrong and rushed to help. The man had no pulse, so I started doing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) 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!”

In four-month research, conducted by the European Society of Cardiology in the European Hearth Journal, testing the EMADE program, the service got 14 heart attack alerts that were eligible for drones. Drones were used in 12 of said cases, and 11 of them successfully delivered the defibrillators while seven of those defibrillators were delivered before the ambulance arrived at the scene.

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“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 AED equipment”, says Mats Sällström, CEO of Everdrone.

The EMADE service can currency reach 200,000 Swedish residents. The company said it plans to expand to more locations in Europe this year.

Drones are being used in many areas more and more every day including protecting aircraft by scaring birds near airports, delivering goods, and even hunting other drones where anti-drone measures are applied.

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