A Specially-Equipped Drone Could Soon Save the Lives of Heart Attack Victims Throughout Europe

In 2021, an elderly Swedish man who’d just suffered a massive heart attack outside his home was spotted by his neighbor, a doctor, who called first responders for support. The first responders didn’t just respond – they sent the doctor an Automated Emergency Defibrillator, or AED to apply to the dying man.  And in a first for Sweden, they sent the device within minutes by air – using a drone.  Thanks to the doctor’s speedy relief, the man survived.

The incident captured worldwide attention and fueled the efforts of a pioneering Swedish company to continue developing the drone technology that had made such a decisive difference.  It is well known that the vast majority of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest patients don’t survive unless they receive medical attention within just a few minutes of suffering an attack.  Having AEDs available in publicly accessible locations can help, but only if bystanders know how to use them.

The Swedish company, Everdrone, first began its work in 2020.  In a number of highly publicized trials, it proved that a UAV equipped with an AED could arrive at the scene of a heart attack much faster than first responders in ambulances – which would likely boost survival rates.  Now the company is working to further upgrade the Everdrone to allow it to respond within seconds to a 911 call and arrive even faster.

But Everdrone 2 includes some additional innovations as well.  One is a high-resolution thermal imaging video camera that can allow first responders in a remote control center to view the emergency live, even in the darkness, and to communicate with bystanders about how to apply an AED and other supportive treatments.  The drone also allows for a heavier payload so that customizable medical kits with EPI pens and other emergency supplies can be included in the drone delivery.

Everdrone is currently partnering with public health agencies in Västra Götaland in eastern Sweden to implement the new technology system, which it calls “First on Scene Solutions.” But the company already has plans to deploy the system beyond Sweden in collaboration with Air Ambulance Charity Kent Surrey Sussex in the UK.  Eventually, the company wants to see “First on the Scene Solutions” implemented throughout Europe.

“The advantages the E2 drone and its increase in payload capability makes possible are massive,” says Everdrone CEO Mats Sällström. “The LiveView capability offers first responders the information needed to make critical assessment decisions that will help with prioritization and increase the safety of on-site responders. To this, we add the possibility of direct deliveries of anything from AEDs to EPI pens and anti-bleeding kits, or other vital medical equipment.”

Everdrone built its new custom E2 UAVs to fly at a maximum speed of 50 mph and to withstand heavy wind and rain.  With the proper emergency response system in place, the drone can take off within 15 seconds and arrive at the scene of an incident within 2 minutes, past pilot demonstrations conducted in both Sweden and Denmark have shown.

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