A man in Sweden is alive today thanks to — in part — a drone. The 71-year-old experienced a cardiac arrest while shoveling snow in December and was resuscitated by a nearby doctor after a drone flew in a defibrillator, Everdrone reported Tuesday.
Someone experiencing cardiac arrest needs help within 10 minutes in order to survive. Everdrone’s Emergency Medical Aerial Delivery (EMADE) service is designed to deliver help as quickly as possible — it allows emergency dispatchers to send a drone carrying the device to a caller’s home, kickstarting the lifesaving process before the ambulance arrives at their home. In this particular patient’s case, it took three minutes for the services to deliver the defibrillator to his home. A bystander, who happened to be a doctor on the way to his job, used the AED on the patient after providing CPR.
The drone was developed with the Center for Resuscitation Science at Karolinska Institutet, SOS Alarm, and Region Västra Götaland.
“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 live-saving AED equipment,” Everdrone CEO Mats Sällström said.
In a four-month pilot study testing the EMADE program, the service got 14 cardiac arrest alerts that would be eligible for drones. Drones took off in 12 of those cases, and 11 successfully delivered the defibrillators. Seven of those defibrillators were delivered before the ambulance arrived.
In Europe, about 275,000 patients suffer from cardiac arrest annually with approximately 70 percent of those arrests occurring in a private home without a defibrillator on site, according to Everdrone. The survival rate is around 10 percent.
Currently, the EMADE service can reach 200,000 Swedish residents. The company said it plans to expand to more locations in Europe this year.
Correction January 10, 9:34AM ET: An earlier version of this story said that the patient referred in the article had a heart attack. He was experiencing cardiac arrest. We regret the error.