Simulation and education| Volume 157, P83-88, December 2020

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Delivery of Automated External Defibrillators via Drones in Simulated Cardiac Arrest: Users' Experiences and the Human-Drone Interaction



      Survival after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) in the United States is approximately 10%. Automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) are effective when applied early, yet public access AEDs are used in <2% of OHCAs. AEDs are often challenging for bystanders to locate and are rarely available in homes, where 70% of OHCAs occur. Drones have the potential to deliver AEDs to bystanders efficiently; however, little is known about the human-drone interface in AED delivery.


      To describe user experiences with AED-equipped drones in a feasibility study of simulated OHCA in a community setting.


      We simulated an OHCA in a series of trials with age-group/sex-matched participant pairs, with one participant randomized to search for a public access AED and the other to call a mock 9-1-1 telephone number that initiated the dispatch of an AED-equipped drone. We investigated user experience of 17 of the 35 drone recipient participants via semi-structured qualitative interviews and analyzed audio-recordings for key aspects of user experience.


      Drone recipient participants reported largely positive experiences, highlighting that this delivery method enabled them to stay with the victim and continue cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Concerns were few but included drone arrival timing and direction as well as bystander safety. Participants provided suggestions for improvements in the AED-equipped drone design and delivery procedures.


      Participants reported positive experiences interacting with an AED-equipped drone for a simulated OHCA in a community setting. Early findings suggest a role for drone-delivered AEDs to improve bystander AED use and improve outcomes for OHCA victims.


      AED (automatic external defibrillator), CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), EMS (emergency medical services), OHCA (out-of-hospital cardiac arrest), UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), UNC (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)


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