Drone helps save cardiac arrest patient in Sweden

A drone has helped save the life of a Swedish man who suffered a cardiac arrest recently.

The 71-year-old resident of Trollhättan in the Vastra Gotaland region in the western coast of Sweden was shovelling snow in his driveway in early December when the heart suddenly stopped beating.

Luckily for him, Trollhattan has a contingency plan in place for such emergencies – drone services company Everdrone’s Emergency Medical Aerial Delivery service (EMADE), an innovative link in the chain of life-saving measures in Västra Götaland.

Sisjön, Gothenburg-based Everdrone develops technology for autonomous drones and offers advanced drone services for civil applications, primarily related to healthcare and emergency response.

On December 9 last year, the Everdrone emergency drone system had its toughest test yet.

It does seem the gods of the living are not done with this man yet, who told the BBC that he has no recollection of what happened on that day, because as he lay there helpless, a doctor happened to drive by and noticed that the man was in agony.

“I was on my way to work at the local hospital when I looked out the car window and saw a man collapsed in his driveway,” said Dr Mustapha Ali. “I immediately understood that something was wrong and rushed to help. The man had no pulse, so I started doing CPR while asking another bystander to call 112 (the Swedish emergency number).

“Just minutes later, I saw something flying above my head. It was a drone with a defibrillator.”

According to Everdrone, it was actually just over three minutes after they were alerted of the emergency that their Automated External Defibrillator (AED)-bearing drone was on the scene to help with first aid before the ambulance arrived.

“This is a truly revolutionary technology that needs to be implemented all over,” says the patient who now has made a full recovery and has since returned home.

“I can’t put into words how thankful I am to this new technology and the speedy delivery of the defibrillator. If it wasn’t for the drone I probably wouldn’t be here.”

Everdrone says it continuously improves its emergency drone delivery system in close collaboration with the Center for Resuscitation Science at Karolinska Institutet, SOS Alarm and Region Västra Götaland.

The drone delivered the AED in three minutes. Picture: Everdrone

The operations are also supported by Vinnova, Swelife and Medtech4Health.

“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 life-saving AED equipment,” says Mats Sällström, CEO of Everdrone.

“It’s a medical doctor doing CPR, it’s the early defibrillation, it’s the treatment in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. It’s important to understand that there’s a chain of events saving the person’s life, and the drone is a very critical part of how that system works.”

The Trollhattan resident was lucky that a doctor happened to pass by just as he got stricken, but Saaltrom says his company’s solution is designed to be used by untrained people; who can administer first aid using the AED by taking instructions from a trained professional through a phone.

According the World Health organisation, three quarters of cardio-vascular disease related deaths occur in low-income countries, because they are rarely detected early and the patients are usually far from health centres when the attacks hit.

Approximately 275,000 patients in Europe and 350,000 in the US, suffer from Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) annually. Approximately 70 percent of OHCAs occur in private homes without AEDs on site, and ambulance response times are often too long to save the life of the patient.

The chance of survival decreases by 7–10 percent with each minute following the collapse, and consequently, the current survival rate among OHCA patients is merely 10 percent.

It is for this reason that the efforts of Everdrone and other companies like Drone Delivery Canada for bringing to fore the unmanned AED delivery option to tackle this critical issue should be lauded.

Everdrone’s service can reach 200,000 residents in Sweden and is expected to expand to more locations in Europe during in the new year.

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