Advanced Next Gen Telemedical Drone Technologies Tested During Large Scale Federal Exercise
Advanced technology developed with Homeland Security’s “Stop the Bleed” campaign tested at nation’s largest Federal Disaster Exercise
Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg MS—February 14 th —HiRO TM (Healthcare Integrated Rescue Operations) Telemedical drone systems and advanced technologies developed by two osteopathic physicians at William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine (WCUCOM) were successfully tested with both military and civilian first responders during the Patriot South exercise; a large scale Federal Disaster Exercise that brought together members of the Department of
Defense, National Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), and other local county emergency responders to respond to a natural disaster. Italo Subbarao, DO, senior associate dean at William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Guy Paul Cooper Jr., DO, developed the telemedicine system after studying the medical response to an EF-4 tornado that struck Hattiesburg, Mississippi in February 2013.
The latest technologies included deployment and testing of highly advanced layperson/bystander telemedical kits in a variety of scenarios. Kits were deployed both via unmanned aerial systems (drones), as well as on a number of large disaster response vehicles and persons.
In one of the scenarios, a newly developed, “deploy advanced resuscitation trauma (DART) kit,” which contains fluids, blood products, airway supplies, and other advanced trauma supplies was transported to a combat medic in the field who had advanced training and was able to give fluids and blood to a number of patients in shock that could not be transported out immediately. The telemedicine interface also allowed for virtual triage to take place in the field to help guide victim evacuation.
“The goal for our technologies is to support both layperson bystanders and advanced medics to extend the golden hour, to provide a medical force multiplier in the field, and ultimately to save more lives in the battlefield and during a disaster by using limited resources efficiently. We believe that today’s exercise is a positive step in that direction,” noted Dr. Subbarao, an emergency medicine physician and disaster medicine specialist and co-developer of HiRO Telemedical Systems, LLC.
“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. “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.”
The HiRO TM drone and telemedical kit includes breakthrough advancements:
An augmented reality interface that operates on a Microsoft HoloLens headset, which gives a remote physician the ability to treat multiple victims.
An automated medication bin that allows the remote physician to unlock specific compartments. This lets bystanders safely access medications and equipment, supported by video guidance from the doctor.
An integrated electronic health record system, which helps the remote physician monitor multiple patients in the field.
“We focused on making sure our interface and medical kits are intuitive for both the remote physician and the person at the scene. Safety and simplicity are top priorities because we’re working to saves lives in very high stress situations,” said Dr. Cooper, co-developer of HiRO Telemedicine Systems, LLC and EMT. “The HiRO TM telemedical drone provides immediate access to a physician through a wireless video connection. When the portable critical care kit arrives, the doctor appears on a touchscreen display to direct medical treatment."
The kit includes smart glasses, which allow a person at the scene to move away from the kit while maintaining audio and visual contact with the physician. Holographic technology allows the physician to see the disaster scene and direct care through a hands-free, motion-enabled augmented reality headset.
Drs. Subbarao and Cooper partnered with Dennis Lott, director of the local unmanned aerial vehicle program at Hinds Community College in Mississippi, to design and build a next generation disaster drone to carry the telemedical packages. That drone is currently being field tested.
“These drones have impressive lift and distance capability, and can be outfitted with a variety of sensors, such as infrared, to help locate victims,” Lott said. “It is just a matter of time before the drones become part of routine life.”
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