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REMSA to use drones to deliver defibrillator for cardiac arrest emergencies

A proposed drone delivery of a defibrillator is shown in this image.

REMSA is partnering with drone company Flirtey to deliver lifesaving defibrillators next year to victims of sudden cardiac arrest.

"Drones can fly over traffic, they can fly over buildings, they don't have to take streets to get to a place, so you cut the response time considerably," said J.W. Hodge, chief operating officer of healthcare services for REMSA.

On average, REMSA sees about one cardiac arrest patient per day. An ambulance will take about five minutes to respond to the emergency, while a drone would take between two and three minutes. That difference in time can increase the chance of survival by 20 percent, according to Hodge.

In a cardiac arrest emergency, an ambulance would be dispatched. But the early arrival of the defibrillator, or AED, would allow bystanders to start lifesaving treatment while they wait for first responders to arrive.

"What saves lives during cardiac arrest is bystanders," said Hodge.

The AEDs come equipped with audible instructions, and 911 dispatchers have already been trained to guide callers on how to use them.

"When that AED arrives, now they're going to help you get the AED, tell you what to do and the steps to walk through to use that AED," said Hodge.

REMSA, in partnership with Flirtey, plans to launch the emergency drone system in early 2018, pending approval from the FAA.

“Our mission is to save lives and change lifestyles by making delivery instant, and partnering with REMSA is another huge step towards this goal,” said Flirtey CEO Matthew Sweeny. “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? 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.”

Flirtey would be responsible for operating the aircraft. This would be the first AED drone delivery service in the United States.

While Flirty and REMSA plan to start the delivery service with AEDs, they could use it in the future to deliver other treatments and equipment in emergency situations.

REMSA officials say the deliveries will begin in Reno, and could eventually expand to rural communities.

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