October 09, 2017

Groundbreaking medical-rescue drone unveiled at Philly conference

Technology Drones
Drone iStock/Source

A drone flies overhead.

Devastating scenes from this year's hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico have made starkly clear how difficult it can be for victims of natural disasters to receive the medical attention they need before it's too late.

Likewise, mass shootings and remote emergencies can leave little time for an ambulance to respond to pressing, life or death scenarios.

A new device unveiled Monday at the Osteopathic Medical Education Conference in Center City could soon change the face of rescue missions.

Known as a Healthcare Integrated Rescue Operations (HIRO) drone, the device works by connecting a victim with vital medical supplies and virtual guidance needed to survive an acute emergency.

Joining the world of telemedicine with drone technology, Dr. Italo Subbarao and medical student Guy Paul Cooper Jr. developed HIRO at William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Their initial goal is to deploy the drones in wilderness and medical emergencies.

Smartphone geo-location directs HIRO to the scene of the emergency with a medical supply kit and a secure connection to a remotely stationed doctor. In addition to tourniquets, bandages, EpiPens and other drugs, kits arrive with a pair of camera-equipped smart glasses, enabling the doctor to see what's going on with the patient.

“Technology that will instruct them to put the smart glasses on, (and the gloves) and an ear piece,” Subbarao said at Monday's conference, according to CBS3. "And the physician will come on the screen, and will say ‘what is the emergency’ or ‘show me the emergency.'”

Examples of the HIRO prototype can be found in action in the videos below.


HIRO is currently in test flight and expected to launch early next year.