The defib drone will not save a single life...

November 06, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

There is a new video (at the bottom of this post) going around on the social media. It is a video promoting the idea of a drone that will fly an Automatic Electronic Defibrillator (AED) to the scene of a patient who is suffering of a sudden cardiac arrest. I can understand how great this idea looks, the video is well made. But I am going to spoil the fun. As a professional first aid person (EMT & firefighter with the Brussel fire department, Belgium) and as a very engaged first aid trainer I disagree strongly with this video

What is the only, and ONLY, action that will save a patient that is suffering form a cardiac arrest? It is known and scientifically proven that a bystander performing simple chest compressions (or full basic life support = CPR) is the only thing that can really save your patients life. If you do not start with this within minutes a life is almost certainly lost. In this video the person is NOT performing chest compressions for at least 2 minutes. She is waiting and doing nothing to really help the patient.  And even when the drone arrives (which in real life will take longer...) she still is not instructed by the drone to start chest compressions. This is a wrong message and goes against everything that we are trying to tell the big public. In the press release "100,000 lives can be saved per year in Europe" from the European Resuscitation Council you can find following quotes:

  • "The most important action in resuscitation is chest compression. Everyone including children can do this. . This simple procedure is safe and markedly increases the victim’s chance of survival. Bystanders who are trained and willing should combine chest compressions with rescue breathing, at a ratio of 30 compressions to 2 breaths. However, chest compressions are most important even without breathing without compressions the brain will suffer irreversible damage within 5 minutes following the collapse. "
  • "Besides chest compression, another main focus today is automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which can now be widely found in public places. .... Early defibrillation may, in addition to chest compressions, be a life saving procedure many cardiac arrest victims. "

Out of this document it is clear that chest compressions are priority number one and that the AED is an important addition, but not the first priority. So what should you do? Well if possible follow a CPR-workshop of first aid training. But if you can't do that at least watch and share this video:

In Belgium multiple organizations are running training programs to train people in CPR of basic life support, because we know it works. The project Minipop even trains teachers to give Hands Only CPR training to children starting at the age of 12. That is how simple and important it is! The video is in Dutch, but the message is clear.

Minipop, hands only CPR.Minipop is een project om zo veel mogelijk mensen te leren een basisreanimatie (BLS CPR) uit te voeren. Het is een eenvoudige levensreddende handeling waarmee we in België per dag meerdere mensen mee kunnen redden.
Opleidingen worden voorzien doorMinipop met financiële steun van de Nationale loterij.

Then don't we need the defibrillator? Yes we do!!! But only to finish the job. If nobody started chest compressions to keep oxygen going to the brains the defibrillator is totally useless. 

You can find the video about the flying defibrillator just below this post. If you watch this video you should take following actions in you mind:

  1. confirm that the patient is in cardiac arrest by determining that the patient is not breathing before you call 112. You can find info on how to do this on this page
  2. shout for help, get an extra person to stay with you
  3. start simple chest compressions as shown in the video above as soon as possible
  4. instruct the extra person to call 112 and to tell the them that you have an unconscious person, not breathing and that you are performing CPR. They must also add the location.
  5. Continue chest compressions as in the video above or full CPR if you are trained.
  6. If (and only if) a defib happens to flies over, grab it and use it as soon as possible. But minimize the time that you are not doing chest compressions.

Please share this message. And to the makers of the video, please think about remaking the video. You could have made a great video with a great product. Now it is neither of both because if people act as in the video your product very likely to be useless.

Make my day as an EMT, let me arrive on scene and see a bystander performing chest compressions or CPR, it is the only way that I can safe a life in case of a sudden cardiac arrest. It is not only science, it is what I, and many other EMT's know out of experience... We need you, not a drone!




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