Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Drones may be used to save lives in out of hospital cardiac arrest due to drowning

Title: Drones may be used to save lives in out of hospital cardiac arrest due to drowning
Authors: Claesson A, et al.
Journal: Resuscitation, Jan 2017

This is a first of its kind study evaluating the effectiveness of a human-operated drone to detect a submerged victim, as compared to a traditional line search party. The authors conducted 10 simulated recoveries for both the drone method and search line (control) method, comparing time to recognition and time to contact. For the purposes of contact, a rescue boat responded to the site identified by the drone.

Setting: 10000 square meter area, max depth 2 meters
Simulated victim: manikin submerged 1.5 meters at random locations, locations came for both groups

Median time to contact

  • Search party: 4:34 (Range 0:53-9:30)
  • Drone: 0:47 (Range 0:18-0:39)
Median area searched
  • Search party: 2600 sq meters
  • Drone: 5000 sq meters
Author Conclusions

A drone transmitting live video to a tablet is feasible, time saving in comparison to traditional search parties and may be used for providing earlier location of submerged victims at a beach. Drone search can possibly contribute to earlier onset of CPR in drowning v

The authors did a very good job answering a question that has not been answered before. Their methods were sound and conclusions correct based on their results.  This definitely has real-world implications concerning the search and rescue of drowning victims. It will be nice to see future studies in varying conditions and any case reports from actual use.

While the study itself is commendable, forces which have brought a study like this to be "needed" are worth discussion. If you have access to Resuscitation it is worth your time to read the Editorial by Dr Joost Bierens at the beginning of the issue. If not, I will try and summarize, but won't come close to matching his insight. Essentially, what this study does, and not at the fault of the authors, is bring to light not necessarily the giant steps forward we have taken in the prevention and treatment of drowning, but rather the steps we have taken over the basic principles of prevention and treatment. By focusing on technologies such as these, we continue miss the point that we have yet to optimize preventative strategies which WE KNOW work and we continue to build the divide between the haves (those countries who can afford devices like these and have low drowning rates) and the have nots (those countries who cannot afford them and have the highest burden of drowning).  Both very interesting reads authored by very smart and dedicated individuals.

Claesson A, Svensson L, Nordberg P, Ringh M, Rosenqvist M, Djarv T, Samuelsson
J, Hernborg O, Dahlbom P, Jansson A, Hollenberg J. Drones may be used to save
lives in out of hospital cardiac arrest due to drowning. Resuscitation. 2017 Jan 

18. pii: S0300-9572(17)30013-8.