The First Drone Equipped With a Defibrillator Saves Man Who Had a Heart Attack


Andreas Claesson of Norway earned his Ph.D. through the Centre for Resuscitation Science at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Working as a paramedic in western Sweeden, Andreas continued his relationship with the Karolinska Institute where he conducts research and holds lectures on innovative technology that can be used to improve patient resuscitation results.

As a paramedic, Andreas was dissatisfied with how ineffective emergency response times for patients in remote areas were, specifically for cardiac patients. The survival rate of these calls is unnecessarily low simply because paramedics cannot get to patients quickly enough. But Andreas had become aware of a growing technology that he felt could be useful in such emergencies. In 2013, Andreas began a research program with Karolinska Institute, SOS Alarm (Sweeden’s emergency response service), and Maciek Drejak’s start-up Everdrone.

Andreas believed that with emerging drone technology, life saving AEDs (Automated External Defibrillator) could be delivered to a cardiac patient in enough time to improve resuscitation rates. There were a lot of challenges to overcome first. As Andreas said, “We need to be able to communicate with air traffic control using transponders. We need a network where we can use video surveillance during flight, and most importantly during landing.” Added to this was a need to find a drone with a stronger battery and a wide range of safety concerns.

By 2017, Andreas had worked out a program with Everdrone and SOS that would see drones launched and arriving at a patient in need within minutes of a call, 40-50% faster than an ambulance response time. Andreas began dispatching drones in conjunction with ambulances to test the concept, without the deployment of the drone’s AED. In 2021, he published the results of trials that showed the drones equipped with an AED could save lives.

On the morning of December 9, 2021, an AED equipped Everdrone had the opportunity to save a life. A 71 year old man was shoveling snow in his driveway when his neighbor, Dr. Mustafa Ali, was getting into his car for work. Dr. Ali saw the man drop to the ground and instantly ran over to help him. The doctor recognized the man was having a cardiac event and began CPR while instructing a bystander to call SOS. “Just minutes later,” Dr. Ali said, “I saw something flying above my head. It was a drone with a defibrillator!” Dr. Ali quickly unloaded the AED from the drone and administered it to the man in less than 3 minutes of the call.

Shortly thereafter, the ambulance arrived and the man was rushed to the hospital where he made a full recovery. “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,” said the unidentified patient. “This is a truly revolutionary technology that needs to be implemented all over. Sudden cardiac arrests can happen to anyone, not just old people with arteriosclerosis.” Andreas once explained that every minute a cardiac patient goes without treatment reduces their survival rate by 10% and that drones could be the key to improving cardiac resuscitation. With the success of the first drone delivered AED, Everdrone is ready to expand services throughout Europe.


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