Drones and mass gatherings

8 Feb 2022

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 and disaster medicine. 2021 Dec;36(6):756-61.

The proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology has the potential to change the situational awareness of medical incident commanders’ (ICs’) scene assessment of mass gatherings. Mass gatherings occur frequently and the potential for injury at these events is considered higher than the general population. These events have generated mass-casualty incidents (MCIs) in the past. The aim of this study was to compare UAV technology to standard practice (SP) in scene assessment using paramedic students during a mass-gathering event (MGE).

This study was conducted in two phases. Phase One consisted of validation of the videos and accompanying data collection tool. Phase One was completed by 11 experienced paramedics from a provincial Emergency Medical Services (EMS) service. Phase Two was a randomized comparison with 47 paramedic students from the Holland College Paramedicine Program (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada) of the two scene assessment systems. For Phase Two, the paramedic students were randomized into a UAV or a SP group. The data collection tool consisted of two board categories: primary importance with 20 variables and secondary importance with 25 variables. After a brief narrative, participants were either shown UAV footage or the ground footage depending on their study group. After completion of the videos, study participants completed the data collection tool.

The Phase One validation showed good consensus in answers to most questions (average 79%; range 55%-100%). For Phase Two, a Fisher’s exact test was used to compare each variable from the UAV and SP groups using a P value of .05. Phase Two demonstrated a significant difference between the SP and UAV groups in four of 20 primary variables. Additionally, significant differences were found for seven out of 25 secondary variables.

This study demonstrated the accurate, safe, and feasible use of a UAV as a tool for scene assessment by paramedic students at an MGE. No observed statistical difference was noted in a majority of both primary and secondary variables using a UAV for scene assessment versus SP.

Also reviewed:
Crahay FX, Rampat R, Tonglet M, Rakic JM. Drones’ side effect: facial and ocular trauma caused by an aerial drone. BMJ Case Reports CP. 2021 Mar 1;14(3):e238316.

SUMMARY: An adult man was struck in the face by his own aerial drone. The propellers hit the upper face region leading to forehead and eyelid lacerations, a partial scleral laceration, conjunctival laceration, hyphaema, traumatic iritis and forward displacement of one haptic of the intraocular lens from a previous cataract surgery. In the last decade, drone use has significantly increased and drone-related injuries have become an emerging cause of trauma. Our case raises awareness of the risks and highlights the need for improvement in regulation of drone use.

Akram H, Seifelnasr M, Roberts H, Myerscough J. Blinding ocular trauma caused by remote controlled aerial drone. BMJ Case Reports. 2021 Apr 1;14(4).

SUMMARY: We describe a case of immediate and irreversible monocular blindness secondary to expulsion of the majority of uveal tissue due to penetrating eye injury by the rotating rotor blades of a remote-controlled drone.

Keywords: mass gatherings; drone; unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV); disaster triage; disaster planning
Photo by Goh Rhy Yan on Unsplash

James T, Izon-Cooper L, Collins S, Cole H, Marczylo T. The wash-in effect and its significance for mass casualty decontamination. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B. 2022 Apr 3;25(3):113-34.


Decontamination of skin by washing may increase dermal absorption, a phenomenon known as the wash-in effect. The wash-in effect is frequently discussed in studies investigating casualty decontamination where potentially life-saving interventions may enhance the dermal penetration of toxic chemicals, leading to an increase in incidence of morbidity and rates of mortality. However, the wash-in effect is seldom investigated within the context of mass casualty decontamination and real-life consequences are therefore poorly understood. This paper reviews the existing literature on the wash-in effect to highlight the proposed mechanisms for enhanced absorption and evaluate the wash-in effect within the context of mass casualty chemical decontamination.