Using Drones to Save Lives in Emergencies

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Using Drones to Save Lives in Emergencies


Drones have matured from toys into tools, and they have the ability to save lives in emergency situations. Recently, the US has faced a slew of traumatic events, could drones have helped in those situations? Today, drones can provide medical support, helping with surveying and in oil spills; in the future, they could be key in drone based telemedicine. Drones are a transformative technology that is creating new opportunities for trained drone operators.

Using Drones to Save Lives in Emergencies

Aerial view of a city, Credit: Stock Photography

Aerial view of a city, Credit: Stock Photography

After the recent slew of events the United States has faced, including the Las Vegas massacre, tropical storms and hurricanes, there are many people who believe that drones could be used to bring lifesaving medical care, as tools to reduce the risk to human life, and to provide general support in major emergencies.

One such group is based in Mississippi, at the William Carey University.

Researchers at William Carey University in Mississippi are studying how disaster drones could carry medical kits to victims in a mass casualty event, before an ambulance arrives. Bystanders could use the kits to help victims, or first responders on the scene could use them when multiple victims are injured.

How drones could be ‘lifesaving’ in an emergency

The team based at William Carey University have already developed two medical kits.

“We have a kit that is a general medical emergency kit that we would probably fly to a farmer’s home … for a rural type of general medical emergency,” Subbarao said, such as a heart attack.

“We’ve got kits that are designed to go into the wilderness so that if you’re stung by a bee or you’ve got a snake bite, things of that nature, we can provide assistance in that moment,” he said. “Most recently, we demonstrated our trauma kits.”

These kits could be used in a mass casualty event like a terror attack or a train crash, or when someone needs critical care. “We look at this as a piece of the puzzle, an important piece of the puzzle, that can connect with the local emergency management system,” he said.

How drones could be ‘lifesaving’ in an emergency

From a medical perspective, William Carey University is a great example of where we are today; HiRO (Health Integrated Rescue Operations) is where we are going tomorrow. According to the Telemedical Drone Project, HiRO could be ready as early as 2018.

A telemedical drone system with holographic technology can quickly put emergency physicians and lifesaving medical supplies in the hands of disaster survivors. The Telemedical Drone Project, known as HiRO (Health Integrated Rescue Operations), was presented Monday at OMED 17 in Philadelphia, the nation’s largest conference for osteopathic physicians.

“Recent catastrophic events illustrate the challenges of getting life-saving treatment to disaster victims, particularly when first responders can’t get there quickly by ground,” said Dr. Subbarao, a disaster medicine expert and emergency medicine physician. “Our goal, as osteopathic physicians, is to bridge that delay by delivering rapid treatment directly to the victims, using remote physicians to instruct anyone on site.”

Breakthrough in Telemedicine: Next Gen Drone Integrates Holographic Technology to Connect Doctors, Lifesaving Drugs to Survivors

Drones are also being used to help during emergencies. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is a great example; they recently deployed a fleet of 22 drones state wide.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has deployed a fleet of 22 UAS across the state to conduct a variety of missions.

Thus far, the UAS have been used successfully to assist with tasks such as an oil spill response in Staten Island, a bat cave survey in Mineville, and the UAS were also deployed to help with the disaster response in Texas and Puerto Rico, following Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria respectively.

“The use of drone technology will help us do our jobs better and faster while saving taxpayer dollars,” says DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, in a provided statement to Government Technology.

Learn about drones being used in conversation, emergency response, and storm damage research

Drone support isn’t limited to medical use, and it can even be used proactively.

Five years after superstorm Sandy battered Babylon Town’s bayside parks and barrier beaches, officials there are using a drone to capture aerial videos of town properties in preparation for future storms.

John Cifelli, the town’s director of operations, said the videos will expedite the town’s applications for financial assistance from the federal and state government in the event of major damage — a lesson learned during the costly cleanup after Sandy.

“One of the questions that was constantly asked to me by FEMA: ‘Do you have before pictures?’ ” Cifelli said on a recent morning in Tanner Park in Copiague, where he was preparing the town’s drone for flight.

“It would’ve made it a little easier for us to make our case,” he said.

Babylon enlists drone to archive properties in storm prep efforts

With drones maturing from toys into instrumental tools that we rely upon, the market for certified drone operators is growing. At Drone Universities, we proudly train the next generation of drone operators. Let us prepare you for the FAA Part 107 exam. Our students have a 99% pass rate on their first attempt, and we are so confident you will pass that we will pay all testing costs if you don’t!*

1. If you do not pass your Airman Knowledge Test on the first attempt, Drone Universities will pay your FAA testing fees

By |2017-10-09T09:26:37-08:00October 9th, 2017|Drones, First Responder|Comments Off on Using Drones to Save Lives in Emergencies

About the Author:

Sam Estrin
I'm an avid drone enthusiast and part-time drone blogger living outside of the DC area. I track drone news and write editorials and timely drone news stories that I find interesting. If you like my stories, you can follow me on Twitter or visit me at LinkedIn. If you'd like me to write for your drone oriented publication or blog, you can contact me at