A student in the Netherlands has come up with the idea of fitting out a quadcopter with a defibrillator to create what is believed to be the world’s first ‘drone ambulance.’
Delft Technical University student Alec Momont says his specially equipped flying machine could potentially save the lives of thousands of people hit by heart attacks thanks to its ability to reach victims in super-fast time. Weighing 4kg and reaching speeds of up to 100 km/h (60 mph), Momont says that installing a network of the first-aid quadcopters across a city would give someone suffering a cardiac arrest an 80 percent chance of survival, up from around 8 percent today.
Writing on his website, the engineering student said that some 800,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in Europe every year, but less than 10 percent survive. “The main reason for this is the relatively long response time of emergency services of around 10 minutes, while brain death and fatalities occur with four to six minutes,” 23-year-old Momont student explained. “With the Ambulance Drone, it is possible to deliver a defibrillator to any patient within a 12-square-kilometer (4.6 square miles) zone within one minute,” helping to significantly increase their chances of survival.
Using GPS to navigate to the patient’s location, trained medical personnel would then communicate with someone on the scene via the quadcopter’s two-way video connection, explaining step-by-step how to operate the defibrillator. Momont envisages his drone ambulance one day carrying a myriad of medical supplies, not just a defibrillator, and believes a service could be up and running within five years. However, a number of legal obstacles that will have to be overcome before the system could be launched.
According to Dutch news outlet Algemeen Dagblad, medical services in Amsterdam have already shown an interest in Momont’s creation, and the Dutch Heart Foundation is also impressed. Meanwhile, the student is looking for funding to enable him to further develop the life-saving drone.