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Using Drones for Automated External Defibrillator Delivery in Seattle

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Using Drones for Automated External Defibrillator Delivery in Seattle


Believe it or not, using automated external defibrillator (AED) in order to deliver a shock to the cardiac arrest patient before emergency medical services arrive can increase the likelihood that the patient will survive.

This is a thesis upon which author Sergio Sandoval has decided to publish – mainly to collect qualitative data on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) incidents in the Washington region over a five-year period.

UAS Delivering AED To Patients With OHCA: The Model

The author also explores the possibility of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drones to deliver AED to patients experiencing OHCA in the Seattle/King Country region in Washington.

According to the executive summary:

“Using an automated external defibrillator (AED) to deliver a shock to a cardiac arrest patient before the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS) increases the chance of the patient’s survival. Studies both within the United States and abroad have explored using unmanned aerial systems (UASs, also known as drones) to deliver AEDs to cardiac arrest patients. By exploring similar research and legal restrictions and evaluating historical cardiac arrest data, this thesis examines a UAS solution for suburban and rural areas in which traditional emergency response may be delayed. Ultimately, the thesis seeks to determine if a UAS solution can be deployed in Washington’s Seattle/King County region to reduce morbidity and improve survival rates for patients experiencing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.”

As you can see, the improvement of survival rates is here the main issue in question, upon which the author has constructed and ran models to evaluate if a UAS could respond to the patient faster than a traditional ground unit. The model tests showed that response times can, indeed, be reduced using UASs, as well as the improvements in the response times and UAS speed which were also evaluated.

Addressing The Considerations And Limitations Discussed In The Thesis

The next step for the author of this paper was to address the considerations and limitations discussed in the thesis and explore the actual implementation process in King County, beginning with live testing.

After seeing that the survival rates from 2012 to 2016 in cases like these were 24%, patients with a cardiac rhythm shockable by an AED had a survival rate of 55% during the same period. The time is obviously is crucial in saving as many lives as possible.

“Knowing that the interval between initial collapse and AED shock increases, without early defibrillation, patients who suffer OHCA at home or in an area without access to an AED lose precious seconds, and their chance of surviving declines,” Sandoval states.

A Global Problem That Needs To Be Addressed

Aside from the rural residents in the United States, the delayed emergency response rates are a global problem.

“Urban and suburban areas can experience heavy 9-1-1 call volumes that deplete emergency resources, heavy vehicle traffic, and inclement weather, all of which prevent emergency services from reaching patients quickly. While a myriad of factors contributes to emergency response times, there are two overarching primary issues: time and distance,” the author evaluated.

Sergio Sandoval also states the importance of early defibrillation and refer to many articles which show that immediate defibrillation is almost universally effective. Hence, their study could reduce morbidity and mortality in many rural areas.

Sandoval studied three different scenarios: 1) using existing EMS stations as potential launch sites, 2) using only new locations as potential launch sites, and 3) using a combination of existing and new launch sites. In the first scenario—which used only the 66 existing EMS stations as launch sites—a UAS equipped with an AED could reach 80 percent of the county within 1 minute, and 94.1 percent of the county within 5 minutes.

Solving The Legal And Regulatory Framework Considerations

Obviously, the main issue remain the legal and regulatory framework considerations which need to be solved and properly regulated. For a drone delivery service like this, there should be private and public partnerships that must be established throughout the United States as well.

From the findings, the author notes the correlation of these systems with Amazon Prime Air, Google and UPS and their plans with divisions on drone package delivery. After evaluating the exact reduction in time and the benefits of this technology, the author shows that the ground response times by fire and EMS agencies took considerably longer in suburban and rural areas – and that the number of cardiac arrest cases was higher in areas with higher population densities.

As concluded:

“With these predictions, King County can now determine if further testing is needed with current technology to begin writing policy and addressing legal, operational, and logistical issues to move closer to implementation.”

It is clear that this thesis can be used in the Seattle/King County region to reduce morbidity and mortality for patients with OHCA – especially the ones living in suburban or rural areas.

Citation: Cyber Security Testing Of The Robot Operating System In Unmanned Aerial Systems, Sandoval, Sergio,

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Cite this article as: Stefan Tasevski, "Using Drones for Automated External Defibrillator Delivery in Seattle," in, November 2, 2018,

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