Graduate student Alec Momont of TU Delft has designed an unmanned, autonomously navigating mini aeroplane that can quickly deliver a defibrillator to where it is needed. A network of such drones could significantly increase the chance of survival following a cardiac arrest: from 8% to 80%!
With a livestream video and audio connection, the drone can also provide direct feedback to the emergency services and the persons on site can be instructed how to treat the patient. ‘Currently, only 20% of untrained people are able to successfully apply a defibrillator,’ says Momont. ‘This rate can be increased to 90% if people are provided with instructions at the scene. Further, the presence of the emergency operator via the drone's loudspeaker helps to reduce the panic of the situation.'
‘It is essential that the right medical care is provided within the first few
minutes of a cardiac arrest,’ says Alec Momont. ‘If we can get to an emergency scene faster we can save many lives and facilitate the recovery of many patients. This especially applies to emergencies such as heart failure, drownings, traumas and respiratory problems, and it has become possible because life-saving technologies, such as a defibrillator, can now be designed small enough to be transported by a drone.'
The drone finds the patient's location via the caller's mobile phone signal and makes it’s way there using GPS. The drone can fly at around 100 km/h, weighs 4 kg and can carry another 4 kg.
Momont developed the ambulance drone in collaboration with the Belgian innovation platform Living Tomorrow, which helped to fund the project. The next steps towards the development and implementation of the prototype are presently being considered together with Ghent University Hospital and Ghent University, both partners in Living Tomorrow. Momont is also connected with the Amsterdam Ambulance Service.