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New Drones Actually Save Drowning Victims

May 28, 2018

Written by Clay Smith

Spoon Feed
Drones carrying a rescue buoy were able to find and rescue simulated (and three real) drowning victims in half the time of a traditional lifeguard or one on a Jet Ski.

Why does this matter?
You may wonder why I chose to cover this.  Most of us are not lifeguards.  But this was such a fascinating article, I had to cover it.  I can’t help but think that great ideas spark more great ideas.  What spin-off might a JF reader think of after reading this?  What other application for EMS has no one thought of yet?  Drones are already being used in medicine.  Some deliver supplies to remote areas.  They have also been used to spot a “drowning victim” compared to 14 trained lifeguards.  One drone found the victim in 47 seconds, compared to 4.5 minutes for the lifeguards.  This study takes that concept to the next level.

Help! I’m droning!
This was a rescue simulation in which a drone with a rescue buoy payload and iPad direct vision system, lifeguard swimming, and lifeguard on a Jet Ski were dispatched to a simulated victim (trained lifeguard) at varying distances from shore, average 118 meters away.  In 28 simulations, the drone was able to deliver the rescue buoy in an average of 87 seconds vs 160 seconds for the swimming lifeguard and 105 seconds for the Jet Ski.  This was in calm conditions.  The drone was also highly efficient in rough water conditions, still delivering the rescue buoy in half the time: 80-90 seconds.  In fact, the drone performed 3 actual unplanned rescues during the simulation period successfully.  This could be the difference between life and death and is an exciting (and really cool) innovation to prevent drowning.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to prevent drowning.  Resuscitation. 2018 Apr 10;127:63-67. doi: 10.1016/j.resuscitation.2018.04.005. [Epub ahead of print]

Peer reviewed by Thomas Davis

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