Drones Help Identify Distressed Runner at Montreal Marathon
by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby
Drones operated by InDro Robotics as part of a medical research project at the Montréal Marathon were able to assist in locating a runner in distress near the end of the course.
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Data is currently undergoing analysis to determine if drones may be a useful tool for detecting athletes in need of assistance during major athletic events. While athletes in distress are typically reported by an emergency phone call, locating an individual in a crowded event can be time consuming. The aerial perspective granted by drones may allow for faster response times.
Dr. Valérie Homier, an emergency physician with the McGill University Health Centre, was responsible for organizing the research project and “Medi-Drone” team. Dr. Homier worked previously with InDro Robotics to research the use of drones in locating swimmers in distress during an IRONMAN competition at Mont-Tremblant. She also has prior experience researching the effectiveness of drones in delivering simulated blood products to Montreal General Hospital, with results finding the drone delivery to be significantly faster than traditional ground transport.
InDro Robotics had two drones stationed in the air during the Montreal Marathon. Dr. Homier pinpointed two sloped locations near the end of the course where athletes had a higher likelihood of facing difficulties like heatstroke, cardiac event or other injury.
The drones were posted where they could monitor these locations, providing research observers with a live video feed. As part of the research project, the observers were analyzing the feed’s quality in order to determine whether it could prove helpful in identifying runners in distress. Since runners typically move together in a steady formation, an athlete requiring help usually stands out as an anomaly. When a runner was spotted falling over and collapsing on grass, an InDro pilot was directed to obtain a closer look as help was dispatched. The runner was given medical attention and made a full recovery.
“There’s a lot to learn from this project, and there’s a way forward for multiple surveillance methods. And the drones are way up there. The view from above when monitoring moving crowds is just incomparable,” says Dr. Homier. “The research project was made possible through the financial support of Marathon Beneva de Montréal. My team is always looking for partner organisations to support research involving the use of new technology in the delivery of emergency care.”
“We truly believe in the phrase ‘drones for good,’” said InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece. “InDro has participated in numerous medical trials over the years – including delivering urgent prescription medications to remote locations and transporting COVID test kits to and from a First Nations island community at the peak of the pandemic. We believe technology can be a tremendously positive tool, and we look forward to similar missions in future.”
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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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