Zegre-Hemsey Receives Grant Funding to Assess Delivery of AED by Drones

Congratulations to Dr. Jessica Zegre-Hemsey and her team who were recently awarded $50,000 in grant funding from the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS) and North Carolina State University for their study “A Feasibility Study to Assess Delivery of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) via Drones.”

Dr. Zegre-Hemsey and her team have partnered with a team from NCSU headed up by Kyle Snyder, director of the NextGen Air Transportation Center in the Institute for Transportation Research and Education, and will focus on delivering the AED by drones to rural communities in North Carolina.

This project is the result of a growing interdisciplinary collaboration between the two teams and addresses out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which is a significant health problem in the United States. Only 6 percent of those who experience sudden cardiac arrest survive, despite advancements in emergency cardiac care and public access defibrillation.

There are barriers to timely access to defibrillators and emergency medical services. AEDs are used in fewer than 2 percent of cases because they are difficult to locate and not readily available in homes, where 80 percent of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest occurs. Unmanned aerial vehicles, known as drones, have the potential to deliver an AED to a witness prior to the arrival of an ambulance. To date, no studies have assessed the feasibility of AED delivery by drones. This study aims to provide insights about human-drone interaction; demonstrate the feasibility of drone use for AED delivery; and quanitfy the potential benefit of drone arrival compared to a bystander’s retrieval of a public access AED.