DARPA Triage Challenge asks if drones could spot mass casualty priorities

DARPA Triage Challenge asks if drones could spot mass casualty priorities

For military or emergency response personnel, knowing who to deal with first in a mass casualty situation – be it a battlefield or an earthquake – can be nearly impossible and profoundly overwhelming.

Now, a new research project from the Pentagon’s DARPA hopes to pioneer the use of drones and robots equipped with sensors that can digitally identify the “signatures” of the most serious injuries to help medical responders.

DARPA hopes the project will help it discover and deliver technology that enables first responders to perform “scalable, timely, and accurate triage” as quickly as possible in what it grimly calls “high-volume incidents.” victims (MCI)”.

DARPA Triage Challenge: Real-Time Data for Mass Casualty Crises

The so-called DARPA Triage Challenge will take place over three years.

Teams interested in applying for funding have until February 13, 2023 to submit proposals.

The long-term vision is “an initial or primary stage of MCI triage supported by sensors on remote platforms, such as unmanned aerial vehicles or robots, and algorithms that analyze sensor data in real time to allow medical personnel to identify the victims. for an urgent practical assessment; followed by a secondary stage, after the most urgent victims have been treated, supported by non-invasive contact sensors placed on the victims and algorithms that analyze sensor data in real time to predict the need for LSI [life-saving interventions].”

(DARPA’s mandate is to perform “engineering alchemy” around research and development projects so outlandish they might not be explored elsewhere. It has a budget of $4.1 billion for 2023. His innovations helped provide the internet, as well as miniaturized GPS receivers of the kind that are now ubiquitous.)

“We are not prepared for a catastrophic event with many victims”

Warfighters from the 129th Rescue Wing demonstrate casualty triage to students of a defense hacking course at Stanford University. Credit: US Army

“We are unprepared for a catastrophic mass casualty event,” said Thomas D. Kirsch, professor and director, National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Uniformed Services University

Accurate triage is difficult in any setting, but especially after a mass casualty incident involving tens, hundreds, or even thousands of patients. Only humans struggle in chaos and stress – research has shown that in mass casualty situations recommended triage methods are often not used or applied inaccurately. DARPA’s work to bring technology to triage to improve triage capability and accuracy both on the battlefield and in civilian settings is critical to improving our nation’s readiness.

See also: MOD now has a working dedicated AI center

While any technology emerging from the research project could indeed save lives – the advent of image recognition (e.g. potentially used here for blood loss) and the democratization of cheap sensors (temperature etc.) have made such remote monitoring and anomaly detection tools not unthinkable – early research shows that broader preparedness is also key to minimizing loss of life in such scenarios.

The project is preparing to launch after previous research found that even on a moderate rather than massive scale, nearly a quarter of Americans killed in action over 10 years (nearly 1,000 people) died from wounds they suffered. could potentially have survived. In nine out of 10 cases, soldiers bled to death from wounds that could have been dressed. In 8% of cases, soldiers died from airway injuries that better care could have controlled.

These results were reported in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery in 2012 – which found that more than 90% of aid stations in Afghanistan did not put anti-haemorrhagic tranexamic acid in medical kits, only two-thirds had junctional tourniquets. ssed to stop hemorrhage in wounds too close to the victim’s trunk for normal tourniquets, when only 12% of physicians wore ketamine; recommended instead of morphine because it does not cause a drop in blood pressure or breathing.

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