RWTH Supports Emergency Medical Care in Bangladesh

08/07/2022
Rendering from Neo in simulated Environment Copyright: © FSD

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Dieter Moormann

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Deploying Unmanned Aerial Systems

Natural disasters such as floods affect millions worldwide and claim countless lives. The number and severity of floods will continue to increase due to global warming. People – especially in remote areas – often cannot get medical care due to the impaired infrastructure. In addition, in such dire situations, people and animals are often concentrated in a confined space, which is one of the reasons snake bites are on the rise in Bangladesh.

This leads to about 6,000 deaths annually. In its FloodSafeproject, RWTH is researching a sustainable solution to support rescue workers. For example, an unmanned aerial system, or UAS for short, is to provide emergency medical care during flood season by delivering antivenom to victims of snakebites. With this project, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research aims to strengthen Germany’s contribution to improving worldwide disaster risk management within the Research for Civil Security program. The Department of Tropical Medicine and Public Health at Goethe University Frankfurt is leading the work, which also involves the Institute for Social-Ecological Research in Frankfurt and ministries and institutions in Bangladesh.

German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Facilitates Exchange of Ideas Between RWTH and the Embassy

At the ILA Berlin Air Show, which took place recently, the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMDV) organized a meeting between representatives of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and RWTH Aachen University.

Tanvir Kabir, Counsellor at the Embassy, explained: “Right now, Bangladesh is experiencing unexpected severe flooding in North-East part of the country, which may see loss of human lives due to availability of timely supply of emergency medicines in remote areas which are often unreachable through conventional modes of transports during such floods. It is now essential to develop innovative solutions such as the usage of UAVs for emergency supplies of medicines to remote areas during the monsoon or floods. We are looking forward to an enhanced German-Bangladeshi partnership complementing each other in disaster/ natural hazards management and technologies”

The weather conditions are the biggest challenge. “The safe use of airborne systems during flood events requires a high degree of robustness against wind and rain. This is crucial to ensure ad hoc medical care at any time of day or night,” says Professor Dieter Moormann, head of the Institute of Flight System Dynamics at RWTH Aachen University. RWTH project manager Isabelle Barz adds: “The Neo tilt-wing aircraft we selected is ideal; it can reach victims very quickly, even over long distances. By tilting the wing upward, the aircraft can hover over victims and drop the payload of emergency medications anywhere. The entire operation is fully automated, and routing is optimized for safety and efficiency.”

The project will demonstrate how emergency care can be implemented on the ground in Bangladesh and investigate a potential cornerstone for future regular use, for example, during floods. Transporting medicines with the help of an airborne system is a crucial component to ensuring medical care during a disaster.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure welcomes the developments in the FloodSafeproject and plans to discuss the experiences and knowledge gained with the Bangladesh Aviation Authority. The topic shall be the safe regulation of drone operations that are part of the project.