Drones may prove to be a more expedient means of delivering many items, but a number of research projects have demonstrated that dropping defibrillators off to heart attack victims could have life-saving consequences. A new study from a Swedish team of researchers has now deployed this technology in real-world scenarios for the first time. On average, the unmanned aircraft arrived well ahead of ambulance crews, with the medical device safely in tow.

When a person suffers a cardiac arrest, brain death and fatality can occur within just minutes, and the chances of survival for those that experience them outside of hospital is therefore slim. Prompt treatment involving CPR and an automated external defibrillator (AED) can greatly increase the odds of survival, so every second counts in getting the equipment to the scene.

Back in 2014, we looked at a student-designed "Ambulance Drone" with an integrated webcam, that drops a defibrillator off at the scene and then allows experts to guide those on the ground through how to use it. The Defikopter is another example, while in 2017 scientists at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet carried out simulation exercises showing how these types of drones could transport defibrillators four times as quickly as an ambulance. The latest study also comes courtesy of researchers at the Karolinska Institutet, but involves real-life incidences of cardiac arrest.

Read More: Newatlas