US gets first defibrillator drone delivery programme

The Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) has announced it is partnering with drone delivery service Flirtey to deliver lifesaving defibrillators to victims of sudden cardiac arrest. REMSA said this is the first automated external defibrillator (AED) drone delivery service in the United States.

Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of natural death in America, with more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cases each year, according to the American Heart Association. For every minute that a victim of cardiac arrest waits to receive defibrillation, their odds of survival decrease by about 10 per cent, said REMSA. The hope is that using drones to deliver AEDs will improve victims’ chances of surviving cardiac arrest and ultimately save lives.

The partners explained that soon, when REMSA’s communications centre receives a cardiac arrest call, in addition to dispatching a ambulance, a Flirtey drone carrying an AED will also be dispatched to the scene of the emergency. This will allow bystanders to begin administering care while they wait for paramedics to arrive, they said.

Flirtey CEO Matthew Sweeny commented: “Our mission is to save lives and change lifestyles by making delivery instant and partnering with REMSA is another huge step towards this goal. We have the ability to deliver lifesaving aid into the hands of people who need it – why aren’t we as a society doing it already? This is one of the most important uses of drone delivery technology, and we believe that by democratising access to this lifesaving aid, our technology will save more than a million lives over the decades to come.”

Together, Flirtey and REMSA are developing an emergency response and integration process to allow for the rapid drone deployment programme, including combining Flirtey’s flight planning software into REMSA’s specialised patient care and transport programmes. In addition to its ground ambulance system, REMSA also operates Care Flight, an airplane and helicopter air ambulance service, as well as a critical care ambulance. The partners are working together on Federal Aviation Administration approvals and a public education campaign focused on integrating emergency drone AED delivery into the community.

REMSA CEO Dean Dow said: “REMSA is committed to improving the health of the communities we serve through innovative, pre-hospital care. We’re excited to incorporate Flirtey’s drone delivery technology as part of our emergency response in Northern Nevada. Providing quality, lifesaving care to patients as fast as possible is always our goal.”

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