Health Integrated Rescue Operations Device Shows Promise in Treating Victims Through Disaster Relief Efforts


Orange County, CA - January 12th 2018 -  Incidents resulting in life threatening injuries often occur in areas not easily accessible to paramedics. Due to this complication drones have been instrumental for search and rescue teams in the fight to save lives. Most recently publicized in the hurricanes befalling the U.S, the FAA released a statement calling post-hurricane aerial efforts a “landmark in the evolution of drone usage.” Italo Subbarao, D.O., senior associate dean at William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Mississippi, and Guy Paul Cooper Jr., a med student also with the university, along with their team of researchers developed a new drone delivery and communication system able to air drop emergency. Also known as the Telemedical Drone Project, the system integrates a virtual reality environment allowing doctors to direct medical operations via drone following disasters.

Upon dispatch, the Health Integrated Rescue Operations (HiRO) device and medical case supplies can be used by relief efforts to treat victims. A pair of Google Glass smart glasses is included to allow for real-time video relay of the scene through a cellular connection. Adorned with these glasses, a remotely located physician can view the scene and lead a deputized civilian through the case ensuring appropriate supplies are used to treat injuries. The glasses are especially useful in that the wearer remains hands free and is able to maintain audio and visual contact with the offsite physician when away from the drone. So far, the HiRO has delivered two different types of medical packages: a single person aid kit and one designed for mass casualty events for up to 100 people. Both kits incorporate Homeland Security recommendations provided through the "Stop the Bleed" initiative. In December, the HiRO drone was demonstrated for the Governor of Mississippi along with officials from the Federal government, the United Nations, and Homeland Security at John Bell Airport in Bolton, Mississippi. An accompanying video showed the drone in action after a simulated shooting at an isolated campsite with mass casualties. The drone was able to deliver both kits to a woman who successfully treated the victims through physician instruction.

“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,” Subbarao said in a press release. “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.”

Health Integrated Rescue Operations (HiRO) device and medical case supplies can be used by relief efforts to treat victims

The concept arose when Subbarao and Cooper Jr. studied the medical response to the devastating EF-4 tornado that struck Hattiesburg, Mississippi in February 2013. In the past two years, they've developed several prototypes to support rural and remote wilderness medical emergencies, including two new additions: ambulance drones designed to aid victims and rescue personnel during mass shootings, bombings, or other terrorist attacks.

"These drones have impressive lift and distance capability, and can be outfitted with a variety of sensors, such as infrared, to help locate victims," said Dennis Lott, director of the unmanned aerial vehicle program at Hinds Community College and collaborator on the HiRO drone. "Working together, we're able to develop, test, and bring this technology to the field. It is just a matter of time before the drones are universally adopted for emergency and disaster response toolkits."


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