Wingcopter drones safely fly blood samples in Germany

The fastest possible first aid and fast, qualified diagnostics can save lives in medicine. Both are often not sufficiently available, especially in rural areas, where the diagnosis remains challenging, unlike in cities where hospitals and laboratories have the necessary equipment and trained manpower. Therefore, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drones are being used to deliver blood donations, vaccinations, medications, anti-venom solutions, organ transplants, and other medical supplies.

Recently, Wingcopter drones transported blood samples in the Northeast German federal state of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania between Greifswald and Wolgast over a distance of 26 kilometers (16 miles).

The flights were carried out by Greifswald University Medical Center in cooperation with DRF Luftrettung and Wingcopter as part of the project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Energy, Infrastructure, and Digitalization of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. The project intends to improve structures of regional emergency care by integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into the rescue chain and emergency medical transports.

These beyond the pilots’ visual line of sight (BVLOS), drone flights carried a pneumatic tube including 250 grams of blood samples. The Wingcopter completed the delivery in an average of 18 minutes, nearly twice as fast as ground-based transport.

The goal of Greifswald University Medical Center is to establish permanent flight connections between the medical center in Greifswald and hospitals in the surrounding area as soon as possible. Drones will also be used to support first responders on-site, for example, by quickly transporting medications, transfusions, or emergency medical equipment such as defibrillators to the scene of an accident.

According to the company, the use of Wingcopter drones could thus significantly speed up emergency medical care in rural areas and help save lives. For example, in the future, if a blood transfusion is required at short notice in rural areas, transporting blood samples via drones could allow hospitals to determine the appropriate donor blood more quickly.

With this project, we have demonstrated that we can also improve medical care and quality of life in rural areas in Germany. With our new unmanned aerial vehicle, the Wingcopter 198, this can be carried out even more efficiently in the future. We look forward to continued collaboration with the project team,” said Ansgar Kadura, co-founder and CSO of Wingcopter.

We are continuing to work towards the goal of shortening long distances in the region for the benefit of our population. Key to this is the integration of new technologies into existing rescue and care systems as part of comprehensive care concepts,” emphasizes Dr. Mina Baumgarten, project manager. “The next step on the way to realizing this must be to transfer tests into longer-term use under real-world circumstances; the conditions in the region are ideal for this.”

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