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APPLICATION OF TECHNICAL ADVANCES
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 61-65

Use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) for supporting emergency medical services in India


Department of Emergency Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Correspondence Address:
Imron Subhan
Department of Emergency Medicine, Apollo Hospitals, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, Telangana
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/am.am_79_18

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Background: Drone technology or correctly termed as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is the newest advancement of science which has taken the world by storm. India is yet to witness the fantastic work these exciting flying vehicles can do. There are innumerable applications within the domain of both private and public space, especially in health care and emergency medical response. Aerial professional drones are small, portable, and have advanced capabilities which include audio-video broadcast, GPS navigation capabilities, fully automated and predetermined flights, and use of artificial intelligence for decision-making. Methodology: A toy drone bought from an online retailer was fitted with a professional camera connected to portable tablet through WiFi. Two emergency physicians were trained to operate the drone and camera in a simulated disaster scenario, cardiac arrest scenario, as well as transportation of medicines and biological samples within the hospital. Proof of concept for three different applications of drone technology in emergency care was experimented. Observations: (1) Drone as the first response in disaster: The drone was able to fly unhindered, hover over the accident location, and relay details of the crash site, including type of accident, hazards present, number of injured victims, roads leading to/from the location, and the number of bystanders present. (2) Supervision of patient transfers in disaster: The drone was able to send live video feed continuously as each patient was being evacuated. The drone pilots were in constant touch with disaster command and control. (3) Cordoning the disaster site: Based on the drone video feed, the ingress/egress routes for the ambulance vehicles were identified and secured. (4) Basic life support: The drone was able to provide live views of arrest scenarios, get live visuals from the site to the copilot and helped in guiding the first responder for cardiopulmonary resuscitation in a victim of cardiac arrest. (5) Transport of samples: The drone was able to transport samples for the stroke patient from the emergency room to the laboratory in the hospital without any hindrance. (6) Intrahospital transport of medicines: The drones were also able to carry medicines from the inpatient pharmacy to the wards, which were immediate, effective, and with reduction in workforce. Conclusion: This project was clear example of seamless integration of flying drones into existing disaster response protocols. Drones can provide real-time video information about disaster/accident site to the disaster command and control. Drones can supervise the transfer of individual victims from the disaster zone. Emergency physicians can learn to fly drones and use them for supporting emergency medical services disaster response. The DGCA should facilitate the utilization of drones and UAVs for supporting emergency medical personnel when they respond to disasters (natural, chemical, biological, radiation, and nuclear), multicasualty incidents, road accidents, cardiac arrest victims, in hospital use for transport of medicines, samples, and out-of-hospital transport of organs for transplantation.


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