Canadian trial proves drone-delivered defibrillators work


A trial that made us of 4G LTE cellular connectivity to enable beyond visual line of sight drones to deliver automated external defibrillators to the scene of a heart attack has successfully demonstrated the drones’ capabilities to arrive more than seven minutes quicker than paramedics.

The test took place in Ontario, Canada, and involved InDro Robotics, Cradlepoint and Ericsson. As a result of the trial, the County of Renfrew Paramedic Service plans to develop strategies to reduce time to treatment for people after a cardiac arrest, and also for those who require urgent medication delivery.

Previous trials that used drones to assist emergency services have operated within the limitations of non-cellular communications technology and without the ability to use video, which limited such trials to trips of around 4.5 miles. By using the LTE cellular network, this new initiative could potentially deliver AEDs to patients up to 80 miles away. The ability of drones to share videos and images with operators also means that they can employ artificial intelligence to manage key functions, including collision avoidance.

Renfrew County Chief Paramedic Michael Nolan commented: “Given the large area and varied terrain that the county encompasses, it is often difficult to get paramedics to patients in a timely fashion, so we have taken a layered approach to their response. We have been successfully using drones to support our emergency responders for several years, but until now, the operators have had line of sight of the situation. We will now have a further reach than ever. What’s particularly innovative and exciting about this trial is the potential of drone-delivered AEDs to have a transformative impact on emergency care for patients suffering cardiac arrest, especially those in remote private, residential or rural settings, where getting emergency treatment rapidly is the difference between life and death.”