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Drones Save the Drowning

March 9, 2017

Short Attention Span Summary

Droning on
If you could gain access to a potential drowning victim and start resuscitation almost four minutes sooner, do you think it would make an impact on neurologically intact survival?  This study compared the time it took for 14 lifeguards as opposed to one drone transmitting video to a tablet to find a partially submerged manikin in a 100m x 100m beach area 2m deep.  The drone found the manikin in 47 seconds, whereas it took 14 lifeguards 4 minutes and 34 seconds to find it.  Of course, there are privacy concerns with drones, but finding a drowning victim and starting resuscitation 4 minutes sooner would almost certainly saves lives.  Besides, what beach has 14 lifeguards on duty for a 100m x 100m section of beach?

Spoon Feed
Drones could help find drowning victims almost 4 minutes sooner than a large team of lifeguards.


Resuscitation. 2017 Jan 18. pii: S0300-9572(17)30013-8. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2017.01.003. [Epub ahead of print]

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

Claesson A1, Svensson L2, Nordberg P2, Ringh M2, Rosenqvist M2, Djarv T2, Samuelsson J3, Hernborg O4, Dahlbom P5, Jansson A5, Hollenberg J2.

Author information:

1Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medicine, Center for Resuscitation Science, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address: Andreas.claesson@ki.se.

2Karolinska Institutet, Department of Medicine, Center for Resuscitation Science, Stockholm, Sweden.

3Swedish Maritime Administration, Rescue Helicopter Unit, Göteborg Sweden.

4Helicopter Emergency Medical Services, Jämtland Härjedalen Region, Sweden.

5Swedish Lifesaving Society, Surf Lifesaving Club Tylösand, Sweden.



Drowning leading to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) and death is a major public health concern. Submersion with duration of less than 10min is associated with favorable neurological outcome and nearby bystanders play a considerable role in rescue and resuscitation. Drones can provide a visual overview of an accident scene, their potential as lifesaving tools in drowning has not been evaluated.


The aim of this simulation study was to evaluate the efficiency of a drone for providing earlier location of a submerged possible drowning victim in comparison with standard procedure.


This randomized simulation study used a submerged manikin placed in a shallow (<2m) 100×100-m area at Tylösand beach, Sweden. A search party of 14 surf-lifeguards (control) was compared to a drone transmitting video to a tablet (intervention). Time from start to contact with the manikin was the primary endpoint.


Twenty searches were performed in total, 10 for each group. The median time from start to contact with the manikin was 4:34min (IQR 2:56-7:48) for the search party (control) and 0:47min (IQR 0:38-0:58) for the drone-system (intervention) respectively (p<0.001). The median time saved by using the drone was 3:38min (IQR 2:02-6:38).


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 victims.

Copyright © 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

PMID: 28110000 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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