RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Drones do everything from taking pictures to delivering food.

Researchers say they can also be used to save lives. Researchers are studying how drones could be used to help people in cardiac arrest.

In a situation where every second counts, Duke cardiologist Dr. Monique Starks says a drone could save lives.

“Only 10 percent of people survive a cardiac arrest in the United States,” she noted. “We know that we have about 10 minutes from the time that a person collapses until there’s a near-universal death.”

Dr. Starks is working with North Carolina State University Drone Engineer Evan Arnold to study how drones could be used to deliver AED’s or automated external defibrillators.

The devices can save the life of someone in cardiac arrest — if they’re used in time.

“Time is the big advantage that we’re looking to achieve,” said Arnold. “Time to delivery, and hopefully too in this case, defibrillation of a cardiac arrest victim.”

The drones would need to cut down existing delivery times.

“Right now, in North Carolina, the average time it takes for first responders or EMS to get to the scene is 8 to 10 minutes,” said Starks. “In rural regions, that number is 14 to 16 minutes, so we’re talking about drones being able to get to the site of a cardiac arrest in 3 to 5 minutes.”

Ultimately, the researchers say the drones could be placed at multiple locations in each county and arrive before EMS does.

“The goal would be for the 911 operator to be able to walk the bystander through whatever procedures they need, whether that’s approaching the drone or simply collecting the defibrillator after it’s been delivered,” Arnold said.

Starks emphasized that drones are not meant to replace emergency medical care or 911.

“It is meant to augment the process,” she said. “EMS will still get to the scene and take over treatment.”

There are still hurdles. Right now, drone operators have to see the drone while it’s flying, which wouldn’t be possible when responding to 911 calls.

Drones are also limited by weather conditions, but researchers are confident that within the next couple of years, drones equipped with defibrillators will respond to actual emergencies.

Dr. Starks believes they will save precious minutes.

“That’s the difference between life and death,” she said.