Drones have garnered a lot of negative attention due to their destructive capabilities and application, which were highlighted recently in John Oliver’s powerful piece on predator drones. Drones, however, also have the potential to revolutionize transportation, mail delivery, emergency health care, disaster relief.

Dutch student Alec Momont focused his Masters thesis research project on using drones for good. More specifically, he developed the Ambulance Drone that could deliver automated defibrillation to any patient in a 12 square kilometers (7.5 square miles) area within 1 minute, increasing survival rates to 80%. 

The first minutes after an accident are critical and essential to provide the right care to prevent escalation. Speeding up emergency response can prevent deaths and accelerate recovery dramatically. This is notably true for heart failure, drowning, traumas and respiratory issues (...) In the European Union around 800,000 people per year suffer from a cardiac arrest, an upsetting number considering that only 8% survives this incident. The main reason for this high number of casualties is the relatively slow response time of emergency services (10 minutes). Brain death and permanent death start to occur in just 4 to 6 minutes.

ambulance drones

The Ambulance Drone has a special type of frame that can carry essential supplies for life support that even a lay-person can use. In addition, the drone has communication capabilities that allow 112 operators to instruct first responders on how to deliver better first care. Currently, successful automated defibrillator usage by regular people is at 20%, but with personalized instructions it could be increased to 90%.

The Ambulance Drone is still a prototype, and Momont hopes to raise funding to continue its development. Once regulations for drones are in place and they are allowed to fly autonomously, they could provide a valuable extension to the existing emergency infrastructure. They will be independent of existing road infrastructure and will allow a much faster response, delivery of emergency supplies, and communication anywhere. 


Photos: Alec Momont