County Of Simcoe Paramedics To Research New Technologies To Improve Quicker Access to Cardiac Arrest Patients

Paramedics will research the use of drones and alert apps for phones

Simcoe County presents its own set of challenges for emergency crews responding to a call about someone who has gone into cardiac arrest. Time is of the essence. Getting a defibrillator to that person within six minutes is the provincial goal of anyone who carries or has access to the device, not just paramedics, police and fire, but the community in general, where public defibrillators are available.

With the passage of the County of Simcoe budget, paramedics now have the green light to research different strategies to improve access to cardiac arrest victims.

Andrew Robert, Director and Chief of County of Simcoe Paramedics, says there are places in the County where a defibrillator arrives at the patient’s side within six minutes 90 per cent of the time, in other parts of the County it is as low as nine per cent.

“Geography has a large piece to play with that,” says Robert. “There is distance, weather, geography, waterways, cottages on water-only access, cottage roads and dirt roads through the bush.”

He notes a statistic that every minute that goes by without CPR and defibrillation, chances of survival goes down by ten per cent.

Paramedics will investigate the use of drones to carry a defibrillator to that person who has gone into cardiac arrest. Robert says there are hurdles to overcome. Some of that is legislative, which he says other parties are working on.

Ideally, Robert wants 2020 to be one about research and hopefully a potential trial in the use of a drone.

Renfrew County paramedics in eastern Ontario have been testing drones with cell technology which allows them to cover more territory than a standard drone.

Robert is also interested in alert apps for cellphones. He says people would have to subscribe to the app, which he says is very specific to geographic areas. For example, when there is a cardiac arrest, people in close proximity to that location would be alerted on their phone that there is a cardiac arrest at a certain address and where the nearest defibrillator is located.

“This is an opportunity to leverage the community in a larger manner and to have neighbours helping neighbours to help with defibrillation and CPR.”

Robert says he wants to get boots on the ground as soon as possible to get moving on some tangible strategies.