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Researchers show off medical drones for disasters, shootings

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, popularly known as a drone, is equipped with a telemedical package as part of the Telemedical Drone Project, known as HiRO.

An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, popularly known as a drone, is equipped with a telemedical package as part of the Telemedical Drone Project, known as HiRO.

Researchers say they hope small helicopter drones can bring medical care to areas after severe weather or mass shootings. They showed off models Tuesday at John Bell Williams Airport in Raymond.

A partnership between William Carey University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Hinds Community College drone program is developing what’s called the Health Integrated Rescue Operation. The partners are working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Telemedical Drone Project, known as HiRO (Health Integrated Rescue Operations), was developed by Dr. Italo Subbarao, a disaster medicine expert and Senior Associate Dean of William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine (WCUCOM), and Guy Paul Cooper Jr., a fourth-year medical student at WCUCOM while the two studies the medical response to the devastating EF-4 tornado that struck Hattiesburg in 2013.

“Reaching the victims is the critical challenge in these situations,” Subbarao said. “As an osteopathic physician, my goal was to find ways to help save lives. A medical drone is the bridge that delivers life-saving treatment directly to the victims, giving remote physicians eyes, ears and voice to instruct anyone on site.”

A GoPro camera is attached to this drone to enable operators to see the terrain and obtain an overview of a potential disaster situation, in addition to carrying a multi-person medical field kit, during a live telemedicine demonstration at John Bell Williams airport in Bolton. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A GoPro camera is attached to this drone to enable operators to see the terrain and obtain an overview of a potential disaster situation, in addition to carrying a multi-person medical field kit, during a live telemedicine demonstration at John Bell Williams airport in Bolton. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The presentation was a mix of video and re-enactment. Students from WCU who played the part of shooting victims and potential caregivers in an emergency in the dramatization re-enacted those roles in person for the event.

Experts from the college, along with Subbarao and Cooper, designed and built both disaster drones, capable of carrying telemedical packages in adverse conditions. The aircraft are owned by Hinds and built at the college-owned airport from components sourced from around the world, said Dennis Lott, director of the Unmanned Aerial Systems program at Hinds.

 

Both kits incorporate the federal Department of Homeland Security’s recommendations provided through the “Stop the Bleed” initiative.

 

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