Defibrillator-carrying drones improve cardiac arrest responses

Drones could become a vital asset for emergency medical services, after a study undertaken in Sweden found they resulted in a significant cut in response time to cardiac arrests.

In tests undertaken in an area near Stockholm, Sweden, drones were found to arrive an average of 16 minutes before emergency medical services (EMS). Once they arrived, the automated external defibrillator (AED) they carried could be used by a bystander, allowing treatment to be given far quicker than in conventional situations.

Out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) are a serious problem, with a low rate of survival. In the US, for example, a patient that has a cardiac arrest away from a medical environment has just an 8-10% chance of surviving.

Time to treatment is an extremely important factor in this: chances of survival drop by the minute when patients are waiting to get help, so anything that can cut the time it takes to treat them with an AED has the potential to be hugely significant.

 

The research, which is published today in the journal JAMA, was conducted by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, and involved the use of a drone developed and certified by the Swedish Transportation Agengy.

The drone, which was equipped with an AED weighing 1.7lbs (770g), was stored at a fire station north of Stockholm. Equipped with GPS, an HD camera and autopilot software, it was dispatched for out-of-sight flights to carry the AED to locations where OHCAs had previously occurred, within 6.2 miles.

In all cases the OHCA the drone was responding to was simulated, but the 18 flights the research resulted in did demonstrate to advanced speed at which the drone could arrive versus the EMS.

From the time of the call the EMS took an average of 3:00 minutes to set off, but the drone was launched within 3 seconds from dispatch.

However, the real time savings came from travel distance. The EMS’ medium time to arrive from dispatch was 22:00 minutes, but for the drone it was just 5:21 minutes, giving a median reduction of 16:39 minutes.

Images and video courtesy of the JAMA Network

The time reduction could potentially prove significant for sufferers of cardiac arrest, potentially making the difference between survival and death. However, the research is at this stage still limited, and far more will need to be done before drones become a standard part of emergency medical responses.

“Saving 16 minutes is likely to be clinically important. Nonetheless, further test flights, technological development, and evaluation of integration with dispatch centres and aviation administrators are needed,” the authors, led by Dr Andreas Claesson, wrote.

Then there is the matter of whether using a drone to equip a random bystander with an AED machine will be enough to ensure that cardiac arrest sufferers are given suitable treatment.

“The outcomes of OHCA using the drone-delivered AED by bystanders vs resuscitation by EMS should be studied,” the authors added.

DJI’s First Drone Arena in Tokyo to Open This Saturday

Consumer drone giant DJI will open its first Japanese drone arena in the city of Tokyo this Saturday, providing a space for both hardened professionals and curious newcomers to hone their flying skills.

The arena, which covers an area of 535 square metres, will not only include a large flying area complete with obstacles, but also offer a store where visitors can purchase the latest DJI drones and a technical support area where drone owners can get help with quadcopter issues.

The hope is that the arena will allow those who are curious about the technology but currently lack the space to try it out to get involved.

“As interest around our aerial technology continues to grow, the DJI Arena concept is a new way for us to engage not just hobbyists but also those considering this technology for their work or just for the thrill of flying,” said Moon Tae-Hyun, DJI’s director of brand management and operations.

“Having the opportunity to get behind the remote controller and trying out the technology first hand can enrich the customer experience. When people understand how it works or how easy it is to fly, they will discover what this technology can do for them and see a whole new world of possibilities.”

Images courtesy of DJI

In addition to its general sessions, which will allow members of the public to drop by and try their hand at flying drones, the arena will also offer private hire, including corporate events. For some companies, then, drone flying could become the new golf.

There will also be regular events, allowing pros to compete against one another, and drone training, in the form of DJI’s New Pilot Experience Program, for newcomers.

The arena has been launched in partnership with Japan Circuit, a developer of connected technologies, including drones.

“We are extremely excited to partner with DJI to launch the first DJI Arena in Japan,” said Tetsuhiro Sakai, CEO of Japan Circuit.

“Whether you are a skilled drone pilot or someone looking for their first drone, we welcome everyone to come and learn, experience it for themselves, and have fun. The new DJI Arena will not only serve as a gathering place for drone enthusiasts but also help us reach new customers and anyone interested in learning about this incredible technology.”

The arena is the second of its kind to be launched by DJI, with the first located in Yongin, South Korea, and detailed in the video above. .

Having opened in 2016, the area has attracted visitors from around the world, demonstrating serious demand for this type of entertainment space.

If the Tokyo launch goes well, it’s likely DJI will look at rolling out its arena concept to other cities, perhaps even bringing the model to the US and Europe.

For now, however, those who are interested can book time at the Tokyo arena here.

Commercial Human Spaceflight Advances Prompt Calls for Space Safety Institute

Commercial human spaceflight has been a long-held dream, but now it is finally poised to become a reality. Companies including Virgin Galactic and SpaceX are inching ever closer to taking private citizens into space, and there are serious plans for spaceports in several parts of the world, including Hawaii, the US, and Scotland, the UK.

But while the industry is advancing, the legal side of this fledgling commercial space industry remains underdeveloped, leading to calls for the development of an organisation to establish a framework for the safe operation of spaceports for human commercial spaceflights.

Writing in the journal New Space, Mclee Kerolle, from the United States International Institute of Space Law in Paris, France, has proposed the establishment of a Space Safety Institute recognised by the US congress and the United Nations.

This institute would “develop, enforce and adopt standards of excellence”, allowing the industry to develop while protecting it from liability and insurance risks.

“Currently, no international regulatory body exists to regulate the operation of spaceports,” he wrote. “This is unfortunate because while the advent of commercial human spaceflight industry is imminent, a majority of the focus from the legal community will be on regulating spaceflights and space access vehicles.

“However, the regulation of spaceports should be viewed in the same light as the rest of the commercial human spaceflight industry.”

The article focuses particularly on the establishment of a spaceport at the Kona International Airport in Keahole, Hawaii. At present, the spaceport’s development is subject to regulation by the Federal Aviation Authority, however there are aspects to spaceport development that do not apply to conventional aviation operations.

A spacesuit design for commercial flights developed by SpaceX. Featured image: SpaceX’s proposed spaceport for its conceptual interplanetary transport system. All images courtesy of SpaceX

The institute would be designed to first and foremost ensure safety within the industry, so it would be important, according to Kerolle, to ensure it was made up of individuals with expertise in the field, rather than bureaucrats.

“To make sure that this flexibility is inherent in a Space Safety Institute, the organization should be composed of individuals within the industry as opposed to government officials who are not familiar with the commercial human spaceflight industry,” he wrote.

“As a result, this should protect the commercial human spaceflight industry to some liability exposure, as well as promote growth in the industry to ensure the industry’s survival.”