Rescue work key part of low-altitude biz

2024-06-28 09:47:39China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Medical staff members load supplies onto a drone in Chongqing on June 13. (CHEN SHICHUAN/FOR CHINA DAILY)

The low-altitude economy, highlighted for the first time in the country's Government Work Report for 2024, is gradually gaining momentum in the medical rescue field in China.

With strategic policies and targeted development plans, provinces and cities are applying drones to transport critical medical supplies like first-aid kits, transfusions and biological samples.

On June 13, a low-altitude logistics drone carrying test specimens took off from the Da'an campus of the Affiliated Yongchuan Hospital of Chongqing Medical University. Following a set route, it flew for 13 minutes and landed smoothly on the Xuanhua campus of the hospital, successfully completing the air transport mission.

The successful maiden flight marks the application of low-altitude drones in medical scenarios in Chongqing. Technicians said that low-altitude logistics drones are like flying 'couriers', with fully autonomous L4-level aerial driving capability and a maximum load capacity of 9 kilograms.

"They have significant advantages in dispatching biological samples including emergency blood and testing apparatus across regions. Reports show that drones have realtime monitoring and temperature control functions, which can take care of blood materials such as red blood cells and platelets that require specific temperature ranges, ensuring specimen safety," said technicians from Yongchuan Hospital.

Some 1,468 kilometers away at the Nanjing Red Cross Blood Center (NRCBC), healthcare practitioners receive requests for emergency blood supplies from Nanjing Pukou People's Hospital. Soon after, a drone carrying some 9 kg of blood products takes off from Gulou district, soaring through a 14.625-km flight route, and arrives at its destination in just 16 minutes.

This is a typical scenario for certain hospitals in Pukou district, Nanjing. Currently, the district has developed two normalized drone routines for critical medical supply transport.

According to the NRCBC, for normal operations, the two routines have four flights per day on average, cutting delivery times by half and greatly improving treatment efficiency.

The drones are capable of carrying medical supplies weighing 10 kg, with a wind resistance level of seven and a flying range of 20 km. They can fly in rainy weather and at night, and come with a parachute for emergency backup. At the same time, they rely on 5G networks for precise navigation and can fly autonomously according to established routes with strong anti-interference ability, thus achieving stable and safe execution of blood transport missions under changing and complex meteorological conditions, said experts from the NRCBC.

According to International SOS, a world-leading health and security services company, a key component of prevention and duty of care is preparing for rare instances when prevention is not possible. Having a safe and executable evacuation plan can make a difference in saving lives. Standards and quality of aviation and aeromedical operations vary significantly across the globe.

"Evacuations often entail accessing both poorly regulated and resourced aviation environments, introducing potential risks. The right provider will have a comprehensive credentialing and accreditation program that is essential to mitigating risks," said the International SOS's spokesperson.

Lin Xianping, secretary-general of the institute of culture and creation at Hangzhou City University, said, "China's low-altitude economy has a wide application and practical value in emergency rescue, as the use of drones provides a safe, flexible and efficient means to save lives."

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