Innovations in the Mobile Defibrillator Movement

John Anderson, Phil., Ph.D. Medical Engineering, and co-founder of HeartSine, had a passion: to develop defibrillators that non-professional users with minimal training could use to save lives.

Beginning in 1967, Anderson led the BioMedical engineering group at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Ireland, the entity that had introduced the first mobile (albeit 110 lb.) defibrillator in 1966.  The goal of the group was to improve mobile defibrillator technology to bring the expertise of the hospital to the patient, wherever they may be, to improve outcomes. Their accomplishments still resonate today having changed the shape of emergency care the world over.

defibrillator history


In 1969 Anderson and his team developed the first entirely portable DC defibrillator at a weight of 44 lbs. – under half the weight of the earlier inverter units.

defibrillator history 2



Two years later Professor Anderson et al introduced the Pantridge Portable 15 defibrillator – a unit that weighed only 15 lbs.  Anderson and his team worked tirelessly to not only reduce the size of the units but to enable the units to deliver efficacious shock therapy at reduced energies.

In 1973 Anderson and his team addressed the challenge of providing mobile continuous ECG monitoring until patient arrival at the hospital, and to provide an event record for review. The CORA (Combined Oscilloscope & Recording Apparatus) system was the first mobile system also to incorporate a speech channel track for rescuers to record comments, drug information, patient information, etc.

The team also developed:

  • The Pantridge 280 which at only 7.5 lbs. became the first truly lightweight portable defibrillator for emergency service. The weight was soon reduced to 6.5 lbs. creating the standard for future mobile platforms
  • The Pantridge PP6 — which featured one of the first optional printers incorporated into the unit
  • Telephone-controlled defibrillators which enabled users to connect patients to electrodes that were monitored by clinical experts at a base station through a regular telephone line
  • Patented Pad-Pak technology, combining electrodes and lithium-ion manganese battery in one disposable unit for simplicity of use and ease of maintenance

Thanks to the innovation of John Anderson and his team the dream of defibrillators that lay people can use to save lives is today a reality.