When someone is having a cardiac arrhythmia, getting an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to that person as quickly as possible can often be the difference between life and death. The problem is that AEDs are usually only readily available in high pedestrian traffic areas such as airports or sports stadiums, due to the cost of each device. In less populated areas, it can sometimes take hours for the necessary equipment to arrive. Imagine if there was a quick and easy way to get the lifesaving tools to someone in need, faster than any ambulance or EMT.
The Defikopter is a drone that can deliver a defibrillator to heart attack victims much quicker than emergency responders. Conceived by Germany-based nonprofit Definetz, the system can carry an AED to any location based on its GPS coordinates. Although the system is still in the early stages of development, the team are developing a smartphone app that those with heart problems, or their family, can download and have on hand in case of emergency.
If a cardiac arrest occurs, emergency services can be immediately alerted and a drone can fly a defibrillator to the scene at speeds of up to 43 miles per hour, unhindered by traffic or hard to reach areas. This frees emergency responders from having to carry equipment with them en route, potentially reducing their response times. If qualified personnel are on hand, the defibrillators can be used before emergency services even get there. These precious minutes saved can in turn help save more lives.
There are still several issues to overcome with this technology, such as cost: Definetz estimates the cost of each drone to be about $26,000 and at this point, the units still require a remote operator. However, the technology has the potential to greatly impact those who suffer sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), a situation where every second counts. The Defikopter opens up the potential for utilizing emerging drone technology for other life-saving tasks, such as delivering medical equipment or medicine to remote or rural areas. The concept also proves that drones are not only frightening tools of war, but can be used to save lives.
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