Drones and disaster medicine

T Jain, from CAEP 2022 Disaster Track

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel from Unsplash

We’ve explored drone use in disaster preparedness in a journal club, and delve a little further into the potential of this promising (and fun, useful, cost-effective, and life-saving) technology. Three studies, three different applications.


Mass gatherings. Is it feasible and effective to use a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) to monitor a mass gathering for hazards and resources? If common sense isn’t response enough, here’s some research that says yes.

Jain T, Sibley A, Stryhn H, Lund A, Hubloue I. Comparison of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology versus Standard Practice of Scene Assessment by Paramedic Students of a Mass-Gathering Event. Prehospital Disaster Med. 2021;36(6):756-761.

Scene assessment. Similarly, can you survey the scene of a disaster with a UAV? Again, research says yes, you can get an initial assessment of victims and hazards with an eye in the sky well before the scene is safe for people on the ground. "...unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology has the potential to fundamentally change the practice of civilian emergency medical services (EMS), improving the situational awareness of ICs and safety of first responders".

Photo courtesy of Trevor Jain

Jain T, Sibley A, Stryhn H, Hubloue I. Comparison of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology Versus Standard Practice in Identification of Hazards at a Mass Casualty Incident Scenario by Primary Care Paramedic Students. Disaster med. public health prep.. 2018;12(5):631-634.


Triage. What about assessing casualties with a UAV? Again, yes. "One potential use of UAV technology is assisting in the triaging of casualties. By knowing their location, number, and acuity of patients, an IC (Incident Commander) can make better informed decisions regarding deployment of resources."

Jain T, Sibley A, Stryhn H, Hubloue I. Comparison of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology-Assisted Triage versus Standard Practice in Triaging Casualties by Paramedic Students in a Mass-Casualty Incident Scenario. Prehospital Disaster Med. 2018;33(4):375-380.




View from the UAV. Courtesy of Trevor Jain.



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