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Faculty & Staff Honors

UNC: Professor Launches Study: It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane… It’s a Defibrillator Drone!

If you’re on the UNC campus during the week of February 25 and think you’re being followed by a giant robotic hummingbird, rest easy.

Dr. Wayne Rosamond already knows about it.

Dr. Rosamond, professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, will be testing the feasibility of delivering medical equipment via drone to people in need.

During the tests, Dr. Rosamond and his research team will investigate whether the autonomous devices can deliver defibrillators to people experiencing cardiac arrest. The process would provide bystanders with access to emergency medical services before an ambulance arrives.

Only 6 percent of those who experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survive, despite advancements in emergency cardiac care and placement of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public places. For every minute without defibrillation, chances of survival decrease by 10 percent.

“Even when there may be AEDs around, they are rarely used, and many cardiac arrests occur at home, where AEDs generally are not close by,” Dr. Rosamond said. “This is where a drone can really make a difference. If we can get a drone to bring the AED to the scene of a cardiac arrest quickly, when the only other option for defibrillation is to wait for an ambulance, it could save lives.”

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[Photo: (l-r) Dr. Jessica Zègre-Hemsey, Dr. Wayne Rosamond, Ms. Brittany Bogle and Mr. Chris Cunningham.]