An engineering graduate from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands has developed a drone that can rapidly respond to medical situations faster than an ambulance. Alec Momont’s drone can fly at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour and carries a defibrillator. If put into use, his drone could help save heart attack victims by reducing the response time, thereby increasing the odds of recovery and survival.
Medical treatment response times are one of the most important factors in emergency care, and a drone that can get to the site of an emergency carrying necessary equipment is a step in the right direction.
The drone won’t be able to carry emergency response team members but it is equipped with a camera and live-stream audio that will connect people at the scene of the situation with trained medical professionals who will walk them through life-saving procedures, such as properly using the defibrillator, until the emergency medical technicians (EMT) arrive. Only about 20% of people know how to use a defibrillator properly, and with a trained EMT providing guidance, it’s thought this number could swell to 90%. Momont estimates the cost per drone at approximately $16,700 U.S.
In 2010, drones air-dropped small aid packages to Haiti after the earthquake, and Doctors Without Borders used drones to transport test samples from a remote town to a larger city in Papua New Guinea. The medical community is testing the use of drones in delivering medical aid because they could add a potentially important angle to medical care and emergency response situations. A typical drone at the moment can carry five pounds and travel 20 to 60 miles.
Dr. Timothy Amukele, a pathologist at John Hopkins, is exploring the idea of flying blood samples from one location to another with drones. He acknowledges that if the samples are harmed or deteriorated in any way that the idea is not feasible, but his tests so far have shown that blood samples remain intact and aren’t harmed by air pressure, for example.
In remote places across the globe that don’t have roads or places in the U.S. that have high traffic, drones could transport blood samples that need to be tested much more rapidly and with fewer limitations because they’d be using uncluttered air space. There are many obstacles to overcome before the idea can be implemented, such as security (ensuring it arrives without interception) as well as who would be piloting the drone.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Ambulance drone delivers help to heart attack victims,” CNET web site; http://www.cnet.com/news/ambulance-drone-delivers-help-to-heart-attack-victims/, last accessed February 19, 2016.
“Medical drones poised to take off,” Mayo Clinic web site; http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/trauma/medical-drones-poised-to-take-off, last accessed February 19, 2016.