Drone Versus Ground Delivery of Simulated Blood Products to an Urban Trauma Centre: The Montreal Medi-Drone Pilot Study.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


J Trauma Acute Care Surg (2020)


<p><strong>BACKGROUND: </strong>Timely and safe distribution of quality blood products is a major challenge faced by blood banks around the world. Our primary objective was to determine if simulated blood product delivery to an urban trauma center would be more rapidly achieved by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) than by ground transportation. A secondary objective was to determine the feasibility of maintaining simulated blood product temperatures within a targeted range.</p>

<p><strong>METHODS: </strong>In this prospective pilot study, we used 2 distinct methods to compare UAV flight duration and ground transport times. Simulated blood products included packed red blood cells (pRBCs), platelet concentrate (PC) and fresh frozen plasma (FFP). For each blood product type, 3 UAV flights were conducted. Temperature was monitored during transport using a probe coupled to a data logger inside each simulated blood product unit.</p>

<p><strong>RESULTS: </strong>All flights were conducted successfully without any adverse events or safety concerns reported. The heaviest payload transported was 6.4kg and the drone speed throughout all 9 flights was 10m/s. Mean UAV transportation time was significantly faster than ground delivery (17:06 ± 00:04 min vs. 28:54 ± 01:12 min, p &lt; 0.0001). The mean initial temperature for pRBCs was 4.4°C ± 0.1 with a maximum 5% mean temperature variability from departure to landing. For PCs, mean initial temperature was 21.6°C ± 0.5 and the maximum variability observed was 0.3%. The mean initial FFP temperature was -19°C ± 2 and the greatest temperature variability was from -17°C ± 2 to -16°C ± 2.</p>

<p><strong>CONCLUSIONS: </strong>UAV transportation of simulated blood products was significantly faster than ground delivery. Simulated blood product temperatures remained within their respective acceptable ranges throughout transport. Further studies assessing UAV transport of real blood products in populated areas are warranted.</p>

<p><strong>LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: </strong>Level IV, Therapeutic/Care Management.</p>

Funding / Support / Partners

logo FRQ-S logo ctrn logo fci logo cihr irsc logo nserc logo MESISentinelle nord