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World first: Swedish man saved by drone-delivered defibrillator after heart attack

World first: Swedish man saved by drone-delivered defibrillator after heart attack

In a world first, a drone program has been credited with saving the life of a man in Sweden after it delivered a defibrillator to his house when he suffered a heart attack last month.

The 71-year-old collapsed while shovelling snow outside his house in Trollhattan on Dec. 9, and emergency care physician Dr. Mustafa Ali just happened to be passing by, noticing the man on the ground through his car window.

Ali “rushed” to give him aid and began CPR after determining he had no pulse, according to local media outlet VGRfokus and confirmed by an email to Friday from a regional spokesperson.

Ali asked a bystander to call Sweden’s emergency number and tell dispatch that there was a suspected cardiac arrest.

While waiting for an ambulance to arrive, Ali continued CPR until he “saw something flying above [his] head,” which turned out to be the drone, which then winched down the defibrillator.

Ali was able to use the defibrillator to start the man’s heart before an ambulance crew arrived and took him to hospital. The man has since fully recovered and is back at home.

The time from the initial alarm to the drone delivery was just over three minutes, according to a press release from drone-maker Everdrone.

The drone is part of Everdrone’s Emergency Medical Aerial Delivery Service – an experimental program being run in certain regions of Sweden since April 2021 that automatically dispatches drones carrying defibrillators to suspected cardiac events and is the subject of a study published in the European Heart Journal.

According to the Region Vastra Gotaland, approximately 10,000 people suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests a year in Sweden, with a survival rate as low as one in 10.

The program is an attempt to address the issue of wait times for emergency services to arrive to cardiac events, where every minute is crucial to survival.

Currently the drone program serves approximately 200,000 residents in Sweden, Everdrone says, and is expected to expand to more locations in Europe during 2022.

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