WCU College of Osteopathic Medicine team makes advancements to telemedical drone
Imagine you are hiking with friends and someone goes into shock due to an allergic reaction to a bee sting. Paramedics may not make it in time to the remote location, but a drone-based telemedical kit could be a life-saving solution.
Dr. Italo Subbarao, associate dean of preclinical sciences at the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Guy Paul Cooper Jr., a fourth-year Carey medical student from Wheaton, Illinois, have made new advancements to a fully-equipped medical multirotor drone with telemedicine that can make additional emergency care more readily available. Subbarao and Cooper have built multiple medical kits to be tested in conjunction with the HiRO drone. HiRO (pronounced “hero”) stands for Health Integrated Rescue Operations.
“From the inception of this project, responders have questioned how the HiRO drone can operate within the emergency response system. Our new footage shows how the HiRO drone can integrate into the local 911 system and how a local physician on call can respond to various emergency medical situations,” said Subbarao. “It is all the components of the emergency response system working together. The footage also demonstrates advancements in our medical kit and capability.”
In the video, a call is placed to 911, and a drone is dispatched to deliver a medical kit, which is equipped with a camera that allows the on-call physician to see the patient and provide instruction on how to use the medical equipment and medicine in the kit.
According to Subbarao, the HiRO prototype, a modified DJI S1000+ drone, can carry up to 20 pounds; however, the heavier the kit, the more limited the battery power becomes. The team is conducting field tests and determining what types of medical kits can be attached to the drone.
“The purpose of the project is to get timely life-saving medications, vaccines and equipment to victims in a disaster area or in a remote location through the use of GPS,” said Subbarao. The drone also can be used to reach areas that health rescue personnel may not want to enter immediately.
Cooper added, “It’s exciting to see that our efforts to date have further integrated the HiRO drone capabilities.”
Subbarao hopes to eventually deploy a fleet of the HiRO drones throughout the state and nation and particularly to rural, underserved areas. He added that the project could also be used for a number of different purposes, such as military medicine or in the event of a hazardous material situation.
Click here to view the video of the HiRO demonstration.