No one needs reminders of incidents of terrorism, active shooters, or people trapped during natural disasters. With the ubiquity of cellphones, the biggest issue in getting medical care quickly to those in need isn’t communications, but access via ground transportation. When first responders are blocked by flood, fire, or the threat of gunfire, a new technology is rising (and landing) to the challenge.
Disaster drones — or more formally the Telemedical Drone project — are a fast response solution developed in concert by the William Carey College of Osteopathic Medicine and the unmanned aerial systems program at Hinds Community College. The program known as HiRO (Health Integrated Rescue Operations) has attracted worldwide attention. When notified thatground transport will be delayed in reaching the scene of a disaster, drones carry and drop medical supplies including electronic and communication equipment that link directly to a medical team. The team provides video and audio support directly to whomever is on the ground at the scene so even untrained people can see, hear, and take directions from a physician using Google Glass.
The critical care kits are assembled following recommendations from Homeland Security based on its “Stop the Bleed” initiative. In early December the technology was demonstrated before an audience that included personnel from Homeland Security, federal law enforcement agencies, and the United Nations.