Drone technology an option County of Simcoe paramedics would like to explore

Drones to deliver defibrillators have been tested in Peel Region and Renfrew County

Drones and other emerging technology to reach cardiac arrest patients with a defibrillator is something County of Simcoe paramedics could be exploring. The paramedic service has put forward a 2020 budget proposal to support the review of options and opportunities to use various technologies.

In a report to County Councillors this week, Andrew Robert, Director and Chief of Paramedic Services, said the County contains significant geographic and locations which can be challenging to respond in order to save the life of a cardiac arrest patient.

“Cottage roads and water access locations pose response challenges that may prove fatal for cardiac arrest patients.” writes Robert.

He notes “that with each passing minute a cardiac arrest patient does not receive CPR or defibrillation reduces their chances of survival by approximately 10 per cent.”

The goal of County of Simcoe paramedics is to reach cardiac arrest patients with a defibrillator within six minutes, and that target includes all first responders, as well as life guards and publicly applied defibrillators. According to Robert, County wide in 2018 defibrillators arrived to the scene of a cardiac arrest within six minutes 63 per cent of the time. Six local municipalities, that were not named in his report, have a six minute defibrillator response to cardiac arrests less than 30 per cent of the time.

Robert suggests reviewing the use of drones to deliver defibrillators. His report says studies suggest this technology can significantly reduce defibrillator response time and bystanders can safely use drone delivered AED’s.

The report says a trial in the use of drone’s delivering defibrillators in Peel Region demonstrated quicker times. In Renfrew County, the use of cellular technology has enhanced their drone response distance to approximately 130 kilometres.

The other technology Robert points to is the use of software to alert registered users of defibrillators in the community should they be able and willing to respond and assist. The software might also be able to alert responders to locations where defibrillators are accessible.

The report indicates the availability of drones in the community and the training of people to use them is growing. Public Access Defibrillation program has placed over 680 defibrillators across Simcoe County and trained over 15,000 people in their use along with CPR. The report also says the Medical Aid Tiered Response was developed to increase the number of responders bringing defibrillators to cardiac arrest patients and reduce the time to get them there.

County Council will deal with the 2020 budget at it’s meeting November 26th.