This concept is already a reality in Germany, where the Defikopter drone is used to air drop a defibrillator for heart attack victims. Here, you can watch it in action.
Imagine this scenario: A middle aged businessman experiences a heart attack on a busy city street. It’s rush hour, and an ambulance can often take up to 10 minutes to get to the scene. Meanwhile, every minute that goes by decreases survival rates by up to 10%.
You call emergency services and in addition to sending an ambulance, they also dispatch something quite special: a drone with an Automated Electronic Defibrillator (AED).
This ambulance drone also has a two-way radio, allowing you to receive instructions from an emergency command center. Emergency technicians are able to instruct you on how to operate the device, allowing you to save the person’s life with no prior medical knowledge.
Saving lives in Germany
This concept is already a reality in Germany, where the Defikopter drone is used to air drop a defibrillator for heart attack victims. Defikopter’s engineer, Alec Momont, is now expanding on this concept with a prototype drone that could deliver a range of medical supplies for emergency situations.
Here, you can watch the ambulance drone in action.
The “ambulance drone” was actually the result of Momont’s Master’s degree thesis project. The new and improved ambulance drone being developed would also be able to land and potentially deliver a “compact defibrillator, emergency medications, wound dressings, a space blanket and other equipment.” This is an improvement on the current model, which can only air drop supplies.
Capable of reaching anywhere within a 12 kilometer area in just one minute, the drone would be able to deliver essential medical supplies quickly, which is particularly important for gridlocked cities and rural areas. Momont hopes that the clarity of communication between unskilled responders and emergency personnel will help increase the life-saving rate of AED’s operated by “lay-people” from the current rate of just 20% up to 90%.
To a large degree, the existence of such drones would negate the need to place locked defibrillators in public spaces, a process practiced in many cities to cut down on response time. If a drone can dynamically deliver the equipment to wherever it is needed, emergency medical services will be able to cut down on the number of stationary units they need to purchase, simultaneously cutting costs while saving more lives.
What about locations inside?
One might assume that locked defibrillators would still be necessary indoors, but apparently the drones’ “portability and foldablity” allows it to be used indoors as well. It remains to be seen how well the drone actually navigates these spaces, since compact size is not the only factor when it comes to indoor flight.
In our current reality, where drones are so closely associated with either warfare or Amazon’s Prime Air prototype, it’s uplifting to see a drone used for meaningful purposes like saving lives.