Are drone-delivered AEDs the future of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival?

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Are drone-delivered AEDs the future of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival?

February 21, 2020
Emergency Medicine
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Further research also shows that bystanders’ experiences with retrieving AEDs via drones felt safe and overall provided a sense of helpfulness and relief. Integrating a drone network into society’s daily life may increase comfort and public acceptance overall in order to successfully deliver AEDs via drone. Overall, AED-equipped drones would add another link that must be worked seamlessly into the chain of survival.

Agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other governmental entities would require policy and guideline changes specifically addressing medical drones and flight restrictions. Security of patient information in compliance with HIPAA would need to be carefully considered as well. Production and maintenance costs of adding drones into the chain of command in addition to existing EMS infrastructure is another avenue that should be explored.

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Beginning in 2017, the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integrative Pilot Program (IPP) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the FAA have made significant advancements toward safe drone integration at both local and national levels. The City of Reno, Nevada was chosen as an IPP Lead Participant site and chose Flirtey as their partner, a Reno-based drone delivery company established in 2013 as the first drone delivery service in the world. The project focuses on drones to deliver AEDs to decrease OHCA mortality.

These partners have been granted ability to fly drones beyond a pilot’s visual line of sight, conduct night operations, and fly over people, all of which were significant barriers previously to integration of drone networks. This program will integrate established EMS infrastructure that will provide opportunity for an AED-equipped drone to be dispatched at the same time EMS responders are deployed. The project is set to officially launch in 2020.

Vivian Nguyen
About the author: Vivian Nguyen, PA-C was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. She received her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from the University of New Mexico. She recently graduated with her Master of Physician Assistant Studies from Pacific University in Hillsboro, OR where she completed her capstone project researching drone-delivered AEDs and their possible impacts on survival rates. She currently practices as a certified physician assistant in Emergency Medicine in western Colorado.

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