Future Technology Spotlight: Defibrillator Drones

Access to AEDs through the use of drones

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a defibrillator?! It’s hard to believe, but if a German non-profit gets their way an AED might be flying overhead sooner than you might think.

We recently wrote about the massive AED shortage across the United States. Based on current calculations, 28 million more public access AEDs are needed based on the assumption an individual can travel a 300 foot radius to retrieve an AED and return in time to save the cardiac arrest patient. The proposed defibrillator drones, called Defikopters, would have a six mile radius and fly up to 43 miles per hour. The drones would be activated by a smartphone app ideally used by lay rescuers.

The drones then have the potential to greatly decrease the number of needed public access AEDs. However, there are still several questions about their practical usage. For example, how would they be able to trespass a crowded urban area like New York City? If the cardiac arrest victim is on a top floor of a building, how would the drone reach them?

Then of course, there is the issue of cost. Definetz, the non-profit developing the drones, estimates their cost to be about $26,000. The drones would also most likely needed to be remotely operated leading to additional costs.

We would love to see something like the Defikopter put into action. Until it becomes more practical and affordable for widespread use, we hope each of you continue to think about how you can improve AED access in your community.