The City of Ghent signs a Manifesto of Intent to facilitate feasibility studies for developing a prototype 'ambulance drone' application.

Sudden death from cardiac arrest is one of the main reasons for death worldwide. One can potentially save many lives - and improve the quality of survival – if one would be able to defibrillate within the first minutes after cardiac arrest. Despite a well-organized system of emergency medical services in Belgium, emergency services only arrive in about 50% of all interventions within these first minutes.

A drone can save human lives

The use of an 'ambulance drone' with built-in defibrillator, medical 'toolbox' and camera would result in considerable time savings. Previous research has shown that drones would in most cases manage to bring an AED (and other life-saving medication) next to the patient in less than 5 minutes. In addition, the 112 dispatcher can monitor what is happening by the camera and better guide the caller.

Resuscitation sessions in 10 Ghent neighbourhoods

The City of Ghent is aware of the problems of the current emergency medical services in not being  able to provide timely critical care to patients in cardiac arrest. Since sudden death due to heart failure occurs mainly in the home environment, the city of Ghent organized resuscitation sessions in 10 Ghent neighbourhoods in the wake of the 'European Restart a Heart Day' in October and November 2017, in which experts learned the right resuscitation actions and showed how an Automatic External Defibrillator ( AED) works.

This project is of a completely different order, but has the same higher goal: saving people's lives by providing the necessary medical care in time.

Evolving to a first workable prototype

In order to make the design of a prototype possible, several technical and legal conditions have to be met. This technical conceptualization and prototype development precedes effective implementation. Several stakeholders stated that they would like to cooperate in the primary feasibility project that will focus on the conditional technical aspects that are needed before they can effectively proceed to field tests with a prototype whilst proactively investigating and documenting the positive and negative externalities on citizens everyday life. To this end, citizens will be actively engaged in the project.

The final aim is to arrive at a workable prototype that meets all operational requirements and is therefore usable in effective field tests within the existing emergency medical care in a clearly defined region while being accepted by the citizens. The City of Ghent supports this objective by signing a 'Manifesto of Intent'.

City of Ghent signs Manifesto of Intent and joins the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Initiative

The "Urban Air Mobility" (UAM) Initiative of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (EIP-SCC), which is supported by the European Commission, aims to bring together cities, citizens, businesses and other stakeholders in order to accelerate practical application studies and their consequent implementation. The initiative is led by Airbus, while institutional partners include Eurocontrol and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Today, by signing the Manifesto of Intent  the City of Ghent agrees with the need for the development of a prototype ambulance drone application and is part of the multi-stakeholder group. The city hereby will rely - for the development of the feasibility studies towards a prototype and the associated hearing preparations- on the other cooperating actors with expertise in this matter. This document is a necessary first step to start the further process. The signing of the 'Manifesto of Intent' is part of the European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities ('Urban Air Mobility'- UAM Initiative).

The City of Ghent has already developed initiatives to increase the chance of survival in case of heart failure. In October and November 2017, we organized CPR training courses in 10 Ghent districts. With the research on the drone ambulance, the emergency medical assistance can take a very important step. Being a 'smart city', Ghent is eager to contribute to this research.

Resul Tapmaz, Alderman of Welfare, Health and Equal Opportunities

Other partners who have signed and support the "Manifesto of Intent” are: Dpt. Emergency Medicine Ghent University Hospital, Emergency Medical Services Dispatch Centre 112 East Flanders, Ghent University i-Know, Belgocontrol, Unifly, Euka, TomorrowLab, Drone Think Do, European Aviation Safety Agency, BRC Belgian Resuscitation Council, Ghent Fire Zone Central HQ.

The above list of partners is not limited. Following the signing of the manifesto, an official open start meeting will be held on 26 July from 2 to 5 pm in the Emergency Center 112 East Flanders. This kick-off meeting aims to collect all possible partners, both known and new, and to define a plan of approach for the next 2 years. Identification will be made of the different needs and steps, the work packages to be made and the obstacles to be taken.

You are welcome to contribute to this project!Register here