In recent years, technological advancements have paved the way for innovative solutions to improve emergency medical response times. One such breakthrough is the use of drones for the swift delivery of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to cardiac arrest victims. While these unmanned aerial vehicles promise to revolutionize emergency healthcare, one of the bigger problems to address is public apprehension to performing CPR and using an AED.

Over the years, the number of public access AEDs has risen yet the survival rate remains the same. According to the National Library of Medicine, “Studies have shown that solely installing public access AEDs without an emphasis on CPR does not improve the rate of survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.” 

We have to wonder, will the use of drones to deliver AEDs improve the survival rate?

Drones have demonstrated an impressive capability to significantly reduce AED delivery times, which is crucial when every second counts during a cardiac emergency. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the average response time for traditional emergency services to deliver an AED to a cardiac arrest scene is around 16 minutes. Conversely, drones equipped with AEDs can potentially reach a victim in just a fraction of that time, slashing response times and possibly increasing the chances of survival.

In densely populated urban areas, where traffic congestion often hampers traditional emergency vehicles, drones offer a distinct advantage. The speed and agility of drones enable them to navigate through complex environments and deliver life-saving equipment swiftly. This efficiency could make the difference between life and death, especially in situations where immediate intervention is critical. The catch? Someone still needs to start CPR while waiting for the drone to arrive, and then apply the AED.

In a recent study, published by JAMA Internal Medicine, the median rate of bystander AED application in athletic facilities was only 19% in states where law required AEDs at these facilities. According to the American Heart Association, in 2021, of patients in the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) only 4.6% were first defibrillated by a bystander. This brings up the discussion that AED availability may not be the most important answer in increasing the survival rate.

There are many factors to consider when talking about the survival rate of SCA, such as is EMS response times, bystander intervention, AED availability and more. One thing that never changes is that the chance of survival decreases by 10% for each minute without care.

It may be a while before we actually see drones delivering AEDs, but the potential of drones to revolutionize AED delivery is immense, offering a lifeline to cardiac arrest victims in critical moments. However, the success of this technology depends on overcoming public fear of CPR and AEDs. By combining technological advancements with robust education and awareness campaigns, we can create a future where drone-assisted AED delivery becomes a widely accepted and integral component of emergency medical response, saving countless lives in the process.

How can you help right now? Get CPR/AED certified and check out our EvaER program to see how you can educate and empower others.

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