Stellat’en First Nation has partnered with the University of British Columbia on a one-year study to deliver medical supplies to remote communities using drones.
The initiative will test the capability of unpiloted aerial vehicles in all four seasons to determine whether they can safely carry a variety of life-saving items from COVID-19 swabs to blood products.
“Drone transportation can increase our access to COVID-19 testing and medicine without traveling and endangering other members of our community,” Stellaton chief Robert Mitchell said in a UBC news release.
“The future potential of this initiative is exciting. There is a lot you can do with drone technology.”
Stellat’en First Nation, Prince George, BC. It is located about 100 km west of
The community will collaborate with UBC on the ‘Remote Community Drone Transportation Initiative’, which will work towards developing a scalable model for medical supply delivery to remote and rural communities across the country.
“I think we have entered a new era with this technology. We need to learn more about it and see what is possible,” said clinical professor in UBC’s Department of Family Practice and BC’s Center for Rural Coordination. Telehealth Lead for Dr. John Pavlovich said.
The pandemic has exposed inequalities in access to medical supplies and care, Pavlovich said, and in many remote communities, traveling to reach them can be risky business.
However, COVID-19 has opened people’s minds to virtual healthcare and technology, he said, thus paving the way for a pilot project.
“I think the story to be told here is that we need to begin our journey of understanding how drone technology will advance the medical supply chain and really build a thoughtful, relationship-oriented relationship with rural, remote and indigenous communities. will deepen our ties with technology in a technology-based manner.”
Last month, the Toronto Hospital Network and the Quebec Company successfully delivered a set of lungs for transplantation using drones. Around the world, the technology has also found use to transport blood products, Pawlovich said.
He and the Stellaton First Nation team said they look forward to testing the limits.
The project is funded by the 2020 TD Ready Challenge. Other partners include the Village of Fraser Lake, Drone Delivery Canada, Northern Health Authority, and more.
Granthshala News has contacted Stellton Chief and Council for additional comment on this story.