For heart attack victims, quick responses are key to survival: a minor heart attack can cause major damage if it’s not treated right away, and in sudden cardiac arrest, in which the heart stops completely, the patient can die in minutes. A German company called Height Tech has an idea for speeding treatment: teamed up with a non-profit organization, they’re designing octocopter drones that zip to the site of an emergency with medical supplies, Wired UK writes, faster than emergency personnel might be able to.
Wired explains the system:
It’s optimised for remote areas, and allows emergency services or the public to call a defibrillator in though a smartphone app that automatically sends GPS coordinates.
The drone has a range of 10km, and can fly at up to 70 kilometres per hour towards its destination in all weather conditions. It has a diameter of one metre and parachutes its payload when it arrives at the patient.
There are a couple of problems with this system. First, it’s app-based: it only works if you happen to have the app on your phone and someone nearby knows it’s there…or if your rescuer happens to have it installed on her phone. And once the defibrillator is there, someone has to operate it—which means shocking the patient’s heart back into its regular rhythm.
Still, it’s a neat idea, and you could see how it could be synced with 911 to send off a drone to the GPS coordinates of a person calling in to report a heart attack—although, as SmartNews has written previously, 911 doesn’t always record callers locations, either.
More from Smithsonian.com: