By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—When disasters cut people off from help, it also leaves them vulnerable to disease.

As Alex DeMetrick reports, one possible solution combines medicine with drones.

Putting drones to work has been taking off the last few years. Now a new application is being studied.

“Specifically looking at supporting health care in the setting of a disaster,” said Dr. Timothy Amukele, a pathologist at Johns Hopkins.

The kind of natural disasters that can leave survivors cut off from help, and vulnerable to what’s known as a secondary kill, like cholera.

“One of the things that kills people is a lack of logistic support to get the supplies they need,” said Amukele.

So in Cape May, N.J., a Nevada company called “Flirty” conducted a test. A drone carrying a small box was flown from shore to a raft, which represented a ship. The box carried a mockup of blood, urine and fecal samples.

“Where they would get tested and then medications and other supplies would come back to the shore to be given to people,” said Amukele.

Dr. Amukele was a volunteer advisor on the test, checking to make sure human samples would remain viable.

“So we had to figure out a way to keep things cool but keep things light,” he said.

Tests are not the real thing, but they show drones could someday help save lives.

The scenario of flying back and forth from ship to shore is premised on statistics. Eight of the world’s ten largest cities sit on coasts.


Leave a Reply