Flirtey launches first drone defibrillator service in US

RENO — A drone delivery service has announced a new partnership with a Reno-based ambulance company to send out defibrillators and other emergency equipment by air during responses to cardiac arrest.

The drone delivery company Flirtey announced last week it is joining forces with the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority, allowing responders to send an automated external defibrillator by air in addition to an ambulance dispatch for every emergency call involving cardiac arrest.

The program uses a rapid drone deployment program that combines Flirtey’s flight-planning software technology with Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority’s patient care and transport programs, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported .

The goal is to help improve response times, especially in locations where traffic can slow down the arrival of paramedics on the scene.

“We have the ability to deliver lifesaving aid into the hands of people who need it. Why aren’t we as a society doing it already?” Flirtey CEO Matthew Sweeny said. “This is one of the most important uses of drone-delivery technology, and we believe that by democratizing access to this lifesaving aid, our technology will save more than a million lives over the decades to come.”

Every minute literally counts in increasing the odds of survival for a person experiencing cardiac arrest. The chance of survival drops between 7 percent to 10 percent for each minute that a cardiac arrest victim does not get CPR or defibrillation, according to the American Heart Association. An estimated 359,400 cases of cardiac arrest occur in the United States outside of a hospital setting each year. Less than 10 percent of such victims survive, according to the heart association.

“Cardiac arrest occurs when the electrical activity of the heart stops,” said J.W. Hodge, chief operating officer of the Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority. “Someone in cardiac arrest will be unresponsive with no pulse, no breathing, no movement at all.”

“They’re technically clinically dead,” Hodge added.

The joint delivery program will allow a person on the scene to use the defibrillator on the person suffering cardiac arrest before paramedics arrive. The equipment used for the program is designed to be used by anyone, including those without a health care or emergency background, Hodge said.


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