Drones will deliver defibrillators for heart attack victims

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Drone company Flirty has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct drone delivery flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), allowing for drones to deliver defibrillators to heart attack victims so treatment can begin before paramedics arrive.

The new approval enables Flirtey to conduct drone delivery operations with a pilot controlling the flights from a remote location.

Beginning in 2020, when 911 is called about a heart attack victim, a dispatcher will send an ambulance while talking through how to use a defibrillator delivered by a drone faster than paramedics can get there.The program will serve the Reno-Sparks-Carson City area.

“Flirtey’s industry-leading technology is now approved for drone delivery beyond visual line of sight, a major milestone that brings life-saving and commercial drone delivery another step closer to your doorstep,” says Flirtey Founder and CEO Matthew Sweeny.

Flirtey received BVLOS approval with its next-generation drone, which was specially designed to carry heavier payloads for longer distances, allowing Flirtey to deliver Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and commercial packages.

“The City of Reno is proud to partner with Flirtey, the FAA, and our local IPP partners to enable drone delivery of AEDs to Washoe County residents,” says Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve. “Public safety is our top priority, and the use of drones to provide life-saving AED technology to cardiac patients will save lives across our community.”

Flirtey and Reno are participants in the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP), a fast-track regulatory program that accelerates the integration of life-saving and commercial drone operations within the National Airspace System (NAS).

As one of just ten selected governments for the highly-competitive program, the City of Reno chose Flirtey as its partner to deliver AEDs for the immediate treatment of a person experiencing cardiac arrest, and to pioneer a scalable model for commercial drone delivery, which will also eventually include such things as food delivery.

According to a news release from Reno and Flirtey, "cardiac arrest is the leading cause of natural death in the United States. For every minute a person experiencing cardiac arrest waits to receive defibrillation, his or her odds of survival decrease by about 10 percent. Deploying AEDs via drones can increase the average cardiac arrest survival rate from just 10 percent, to approximately 47 percent."

Based on historical data, according to the City of Reno, just one delivery drone carrying an AED has the potential to save at least one life every two weeks in Reno. Flirtey says deployed nationwide, the AED drone delivery service has the potential to save more than 100,000 lives per year and more than 1 million American lives over each decade to come.

For more information, visit the Reno.gov program website.


(L-R) FAA Regional Administrator Raquel Garvin, REMSA COO JW Hodge, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, Flirtey Founder Matthew Sweeney