A drone with medical supplies can now reach places where it can be difficult for ambulances to reach. Dr Italo Subbarao’s idea for an aerial ambulance that could fly above ground, bringing with it medical supplies has now become a reality.
The drone has a name worthy of its performance, aptly named HiRO (Health Integrated Rescue Operations) it can perform various functions since it acts as a 911 link to a remote, an on-call doctor, and also provides emergency medical care until paramedics or other emergency personnel arrive.
It was developed with the help of a team led by Dennis Lott, director of the unmanned aerial vehicle program at Hinds Community College in Mississippi, and Guy Paul Cooper Jr, who was then a fourth-year medical student at the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine. The team is now getting ready to participate in a large disaster exercise with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).
The drone, though small in size can treat up to 100 people in a disaster and is can be used in a mass shooting, terrorist incident, wilderness emergency, hurricane etc. The medical kits weigh between two to 20 pounds depending on the type of emergency, with supplies contained in an automated medication bin.
“They’re designed to be modular so that we can make adjustments as necessary,” Cooper, who has designed several prototypes, told a media organization.
The HiRO drone system also includes a camera mounted to the medical kit and a pair of smart glasses.
“We ask the bystander to put the glasses on,” Subbarao said adding that then they could see what the person saw. An on-call doctor in a different location could use the headset and holographic health record display to communicate with the bystander on the ground. This also means that the drone can help people around victims stabilize them in emergencies such as a heart attack, a fall or allergic reaction.
The main aim to the drone is save precious time that a patient could lose if they don’t get emergency care. If rolled out fully, a fleet of HiRO drones could fundamentally streamline triage on the ground, increase access to care, and reduce the formidable pressure hospital emergency rooms face when disaster strikes, according to experts.
While drones such as HiRo have been the talk of the town they haven’t actually been able to be used locally since GPS enabled drones can’t fly beyond the operator’s visual line of sight” (BVLoS) due to FAA regulations.
However HiRos creators feel an exemption for disaster or other regulatory allowance for BVLoS could come to fruition in the next year. However right now in a disaster scenario, the HiRo team must first get a Public Agency Certificate of Authorization. The process to get the certificate can take at least 2 hours and even become 24 hours, which can create setbacks in the disaster zone. The drone can be used in various environments and can also work with other agencies to increase emergency response time.
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