Flying Automated External Defibrillators to Emergency Zones

If drones can deliver that hot pizza order to your doorstep in a jiffy then incorporating them in an emergency response strategy is not a bad idea.

No doubt, drones aka UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles can attain the need for speed in saving lives of victims who collapse all of a sudden— and would benefit from an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Flying AEDs to emergency zones can help save more lives. Though an AED device is not a must-have when initiating cardiopulmonary resuscitation, its availability and use can help increase the chances of a successful CPR.

The City of Reno is one of the metropolitans about to experience drone AED delivery thanks to a partnership with Flirtey, an expert drone-maker.

Just one delivery drone transporting an AED can save at least a single life every fortnight (2 weeks) in Reno. Nationwide deployment of the AED drone delivery can save as many as 100,000 people every year, and over a million US citizensin decades to come, according to Flirtey and Reno.

An Automated External Defibrillator is a portable device that interprets the heart’s rhythm and corrects it to a normal. This device comes with a manual on how to operate it. If you have access to one, you can use it when administering CPR.

Training in CPR allows you to learn how this device operates. Its main role is to restart the pacemaker’s normal rhythm and increase the chances of a successful CPR.

Flying Defibrillators? Is it Possible?

Before we thought of drones as AED dispatchers, UAVs were all about how the courier service sector would deliver goods to their customers in the shortest time possible.

Giant retailer, Amazon and the re-known UPS shipping service already have FAAs approval to fly items to their owners.

And then, the medical world saw that this concept was a good idea. Especially when it comes to dispatching medicines. Soon after, emergency responders adopted it for its speed and convenience.

Because AEDs (if used correctly) can increase the chances of a successful CPR, the availability of one in an emergency scene can mean survival.

Many times we are advised to add AEDs to “strategic” locations at our homes, workplaces. But because many heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrests occur anywhere and without a warning, strategic placement can be a bit tricky.

More than 50% of cardiac arrest cases occur outside a hospital. And it could be anywhere; at home, on the road, at work, anywhere.

In most cases, a bystander is well-placed to respond in 3 to 5 minutes and save lives if an automated external defibrillator is nearby.

That’s why it would make more sense if we delivered these devices (as soon as possible) at the scene of the emergency, for a swifter response.

But how will automated defibrillator dispatchers know when we it’s time to fly a drone to an emergency scene?

Anytime you call 911, they will have a drawn dispatchers fly a drone to your area as they make an effort to arrive. Because it would be best if the AED arrives in the shortest time possible, we book it a flight as EMS services drive to the scene.

FAA approves the Flying of Defibrillators: And NASA is also Involved

Last year around March, drone firms like Flirtey earned the Federal Aviation Administration’s say-so to deliver AEDs by drone.

This “beyond visual line of sight” (BVLOS) approval will see drones deliver automated external defibrillators to assist SCA and heart attack victims before EMS services arrive.

Flirtey will now dispatch AEDs with unmanned aerial vehicles in Reno-Sparks-Carson City area. A remote pilot will control the drones.

So don’t think UFOs have come to crash the earth party when you see too many flying unmanned aerial vehicles in the air.

The company will dispatch a drone and offer tips on how to use an AED defibrillator (on phone). That way, a bystander can have the life-saving device at hand when the before .The program will serve the

“Flirtey’ scutting-edge tech is now FAA-certified for drone AED delivery beyond visual line of sight. It’s a significant step that will reshape commercial and medical drone delivery activities,” says Flirtey Creator and Boss, Matthew Sweeny.

Flirtey is the perfect fit for this position because of its tech capabilities. The drone-maker boasts UAVs that can transport heavier objects over longer distances. It also explains why apart from these emergency devices, Flirtey will also be transporting your commercial orders.

“The City of Reno is honored to collaborate with Flirtey, the Federal Aviation Administration, and our native IPP partners to see drone AED delivery come true,” says Hillary Schieve, Reno Mayor. “Public health is one of our top concerns, and if drones and AEDs will help save lives then we’re ready to go.”

“SCA is the number one cause of natural death in the US. For every 60 seconds an SCA victim waits for defibrillation, their chances of survival go down nearly 10 percent,” according to a Reno and Flirtey. Dispatching AEDs using UAVs can boost the average SCA survival rate from 10 percent, to around 47%.

NASA is also involved in Saving Lives.

NASA has also played a part in seeing to it that these drone technologies get to their level best.

The Langley Research Center has been investing in drone tech research and testing different possibilities.

Here’s how the news appeared on

The future of delivery could be drones. Imagine all orders coming to your doorstep through air. And not just pizza and stuff! Emergency medical devices like AEDs for sudden cardiac arrest victims may soon be flying to your location.

NASA Langley Research Center has a hand in making it happen. Its engineers and scientists have been helping to develop and test the technologies, including “detect and avoid” computer software and safety features, to enable drone delivery systems that can do it all.

“NASA has multiple ongoing projects researching into the world of unmanned flight,” said David Meade, a Langley spokesman. The space agency is partnering with industry, academia and the regulatory Federal Aviation Administration to test the concepts and technologies needed “to help move this industry forward.”

NASA technologies include air traffic management, the Safe 2 Ditch emergency landing program, the SAFEGUARD geofencing program that protects critical infrastructure or airspace, and advanced composite materials to make devices lighter and stronger.

The delivery scenario is but one of many potential uses for unmanned aerial systems envisioned by Matt Sweeney, the Australian-born American founder and CEO of Flirtey Inc.

On Monday, Sweeney unveiled his latest delivery drone, the Eagle, which is bound for real-world testing in Reno, Nev. If all goes well, Sweeney plans to soar higher still. And soon.

“We’re on track through our work with the FAA to start routine delivery demonstrations to customer homes in Reno this year, and we’re on track to get all of the commercial regulatory approvals that we then need to scale nationwide in 2020,” Sweeney said. “So this is going to happen a lot faster than I think a lot of people had realized.”

He said he’s already lined up commercial customers like Domino’s Pizza and 7-Eleven.

Even the Eagle has NASA Langley DNA: Sweeney had hired the former head of Langley’s drone program, John Foggia, to lead the company’s engineering efforts. Foggia passed away in March.

And in 2015 Langley assisted in Flirtey’s delivery of drugs and medicines via remotely piloted hexacopter to a health fair for low-income residents of Wise County — the first package delivered by drone.

That historic event was part of Virginia Tech’s unmanned aircraft systems test site program, one of six in the country approved by the FAA.

Flirtey’s system consists of the drone, a parking space-size takeoff and landing platform called the “portal” and FAA-approved autonomous software that enables a single pilot to handle up to 10 drones remotely. The FAA also approved flights beyond visual line of sight and at night.

The Eagle was built to fly in nearly all inclement weather conditions. Sweeney said its maximum payload volume and weight is proprietary, but the drone can handle about 75% of package deliveries. The ultimate goal is to make each delivery in under 10 minutes.

“We’re going to put delivery drones at every local mall in America,” Sweeney said. “At every local store that wants them.”

Beyond the commercial, he said, drone delivery systems also have health care applications, flying medical supplies to individual customers. But they can also fly medicine, food, water and other supplies to victims of natural disasters, particularly when roadways or airports are inaccessible.

The Reno test bed is one of 10 around the country chosen by the FAA and the Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program. Participants will gather data on night operations, flights over people and beyond line of sight, aerial deliveries, detect and avoid technologies and data security between pilot and aircraft.

The Transportation Department says that information will help craft rules to balance local and national interests and address security and privacy concerns over more complex low-altitude drone operations.

More about AEDs and How to Use One

These automatic external defibrillators are used to reestablish a normal heart rhythm. It functions by sending an appropriate electric shock to the heart. This helps to treat or prevent arrhythmia when the heart is beating either quickly or slowly.

The shock is generated by a battery within the machine. It is transmitted to the heart through specific electrodes that are placed on the victim’s chest. This way, the machine can interpret the heartbeat and send an appropriate feedback impulse that can help stop the cardiac arrest.

There are various variants of defibrillators that are used in different medical conditions. These devices are often found in public places such malls and offices. They were invented to help save a person suffering from a sudden cardiac arrest.

The portable defibrillators come with operation instructions. An untrained worker can use this machine without prior proper experience. This is because it comes with a straight-to-the-point user manual on how to operate it.

These automated external defibrillators can be used on people of almost all ages. But before you use this tool, confirm if it is a cardiac arrest emergency by checking for the right signs

Here’s how to use an AED:

Quickly locate the AED device and go through the instructions on how to operate it carefully. The device should include instructions on how to deliver the electrical charge. You may also be requested to provide more than one shock, depending on the situation.

The AED manufacturer may advise you to apply immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation after using it. Make sure you are ready and prepared to conduct CPR. When the emergency service providers arrive, ensure you notify them that you used an automated external defibrillator on the victim.

In case you face any difficulties using an automated external defibrillator, you can seek assistance from a colleague.

If the device malfunctions or results in an injury, you can file a complaint at the Food and Drug Administration’s Official website.

What is Cardiopulmonary resuscitation?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique. CPR is given when an individual has agonal respiration or is not responsive. Time is a vital determinant of the success rate of CPR.

CPR first aid consists of the application of rescue breathing as well as chest compressions. Compressions should be the initial step. If the person is skilled and confident, then mouth to mouth resuscitation can be carried out.

The technique assists in reestablishing the unconstrained flow of blood. CPR improves the chances of survival when it is done on time and appropriately. The process is vital as it helps in averting tissue damage due to a lack of oxygen.

The use of defibrillation is another essential process that should be carried out during an incident of cardiac arrest. It is the action of applying an electric current to restore the normal rhythm of the sino-atrial node.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique. CPR is given when an individual has agonal respiration or is not responsive. Time is a vital determinant of the success rate of CPR.

CPR first aid consists of the application of rescue breathing as well as chest compressions. Compressions should be the initial step. If the person is skilled and confident, then mouth to mouth resuscitation can be carried out.

The technique assists in reestablishing the unconstrained flow of blood. CPR improves the chances of survival when it is done on time and appropriately. The process is vital as it helps in averting tissue damage due to a lack of oxygen.

The use of defibrillation is another essential process that should be carried out during an incident of cardiac arrest. It is the action of applying an electric current to restore the normal rhythm of the sino-atrial node.

When Does One Need CPR.

This technique should be administered to any SCA victim. A Sudden Cardiac Arrest patient requires CPR to help restore their blood flow to a normal. So how does this differ from heart attack and when do you need an automated external defibrillator?

  1. Heart Attack.

As stated above, heart attack causes the heart to stop pumping blood due to a clogged artery, often due to a blood clot.

  1. The person suffers a chest discomfort or pain,
  2. fatigue or lethargy and one can
  3. A pressure sensation in their chest
  4. They may also discomfort in the upper parts of the body. It can bring pain in back, stomach, both arms and neck.
  5. The major symptom is loss of breath where a person experiences difficulty in breathing— often caused by tightness in the chest.

2. Cardiac Arrest.

A cardiac arrest is where the heart stops functioning and does not pump blood. The cause of this condition is the electrical malfunction of the heart which triggers irregular heartbeats. Some of the symptoms include;

  1. Very heavy chest discomfort
  2. Loss and shortness of breath
  3. General body weakness and dizziness
  4. Loss of consciousness.
  SCA Heart Attack
Definition SCA is a chaotic electrical condition of the heart resulting in the loss of blood flow to the brain and body. The most common form of SCA is ventricular fibrillation. The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction: a blockage of the coronary arteries leading to a decrease in blood flow. When this happens, the heart muscles die or become permanently damaged.
Causes Electrical impulses of the heart become chaotic due to a blow to the chest or other (sometimes-unknown) health-related issues. As a result, the heart stops beating regularly and begins to flutter rapidly. Plaque made of cholesterol and other cells builds up in the walls of the heart’s arteries. When the buildup is great enough, the plaque creates a blockage, known as an occlusion, which restricts the blood supply to the heart muscle.
Symptoms Typically, there are no symptoms to SCA. Usually, the first indication of SCA is when the victim faints. The second sign is breathing cessation. Warning signs of heart attack include a tightening feeling in the chest, a sore or numb left arm, lower back, neck, and/or jaw. Other signs include bad indigestion, a feeling that something heavy is sitting on your chest, and shortness of breath.
Victim’s Response A sudden cardiac arrest victim always loses consciousness from lack of oxygen. The victim of a heart attack is usually conscious and alert.
Risk of Death A victim of SCA will die unless treated. If left untreated, the chances of survival decrease by 10% per minute. Typically, permanent brain damage occurs within 5-7 minutes. Most victims can recover fully and lead normal lives, but about a third of heart attacks are deadly. A heart attack can lead to sudden cardiac arrest.
Treatment The only treatment for SCA is defibrillation from an automated external defibrillator (AED). A shock from the AED stops the chaotic electrical activity and allows the heart’s sinus node to resume a normal electrical impulse. One treatment of a heart attack can be angioplasty, which opens up the blocked vessels with a medical balloon. Afterwards, a stent can be placed in the artery to help keep it open. Other treatments include clot-busting drugs called thrombolytics to reduce chest pain

Because the role of a defibrillator is to reestablish a normal heart rhythm, it can be used in both cardiac arrest and heart attack cases.

In essence, it functions by sending the correct electric shock to the heart. This helps eliminate arrhythmia whether the heart is beatingfaster or slower than normal.

Still, We Should Train on CPR and AED Use.

The fact that we can fly AEDs to wherever emergency scene is only half of the equation. The other half is how to use it effectively.

Members of the public should take the responsibility to undergo CPR and first aid training—which should also offer knowledge on the use of automated external defibrillator.

Passersby with cardiopulmonary resuscitation training are in a better position to respond to the disease.

So the sky should be the limit for bystanders, the same way it is for unmanned aerial vehicles, if we are going to enjoy the maximum benefit of flying AEDs.

Final Words

According to Flirtey, the nationwide deployment of the automated external defibrillator drone-delivery service can save as many as 100,000 people every year and over a million US citizensin decades to come.

There’s the need for speed in responding to emergencies and drone AED delivery is one of the perfect remedies for when you need to save lives.

We may as well say 2020 will mark the turning point in emergency response world as drone becomes commonplace in many parts of the world.