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Drones equipped with a portable medical device can help save lives of heart attack victims by reaching the spot four times faster than an ambulance, a new study has found.
Researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden compared the time taken to deliver an automated external defibrillator (AED) using fully autonomous drones for simulated out-of- hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) with emergency medical services (EMS).
A drone was developed by the Swedish Transportation Agency and was equipped with an AED, a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm.
The drone was equipped with a global positioning system (GPS) and a high-definition camera and integrated with an autopilot software system.
It was dispatched for out-of-sight flights to locations where OHCAs were within a 10 kilometre radius from the fire station.
Researchers noted that the drone arrived more quickly than EMS in all cases with a response time of 16:39 minutes.
"Saving 16 minutes is likely to be clinically important. Nonetheless, further test flights, technological development, and evaluation of integration with dispatch centres and aviation administrators are needed," researchers said.
The study was published in the journal JAMA.