Tampa General Hospital Launches First-in-the-Nation Drone Program for Emergency Response

Innovative Partnership Aims to Save Lives in Manatee County

In a groundbreaking initiative, Tampa General Hospital (TGH) has partnered with Manatee County and Archer First Response Systems (ArcherFRS) to launch a first-of-its-kind drone program that delivers life-saving emergency equipment to 911 callers. The program, reportedly set to commence on May 1, is designed to significantly reduce response times for health-related emergencies within Manatee County's coverage area.

TGH President and CEO John Couris emphasized the transformative potential of this program, stating, “Through the use of technology and innovation, Tampa General Hospital is transforming health care. This first-in-the-nation program can effectively save lives by responding to health-related emergencies faster than ever before.”

Drones to Deliver AEDs, NARCAN, and Tourniquets

The program will deploy drones equipped with automated external defibrillators (AEDs), NARCAN Nasal Spray, and tourniquets, providing quick access to critical equipment in emergency situations. The aim is to improve survival rates for individuals experiencing cardiac arrests, opioid overdoses, and trauma-related injuries.

ArcherFRS founder and CEO Gordon Folkes highlighted the need for a paradigm shift in emergency response, stating, “Sudden cardiac arrest, opioid overdose, and trauma impact hundreds of thousands of people in the each year; there is a real need for a paradigm shift in the treatment and response to these time-critical emergencies. Unmanned aircraft provide a unique utility in their ability to fly quickly and directly to the scene of an emergency.”

Coverage Area and Expansion Plans

Initially, the program will serve a 3.5-square-mile area from the Manatee County EMS Lakewood Ranch Station. With additional FAA approvals, the coverage is expected to expand to 35 square miles. The drones are equipped with safety features such as ASTM-certified Parachute Recovery systems, on-board computers, and LTE cell modems.

Manatee County Board of County Commissioners Chair Mike Rahn expressed strong support for the initiative during a public meeting on April 23, stating, “This is an amazing opportunity to be on the cutting edge of technology in emergency response.”

How the Program Works

Starting May 1, when a 911 caller reports cardiac arrest, opioid overdose, or trauma within the coverage area, Manatee County ECC Dispatch will deploy an ArcherFRS drone. The equipment is expected to reach the caller within 1 minute 45 seconds to 2 minutes 10 seconds, with dispatchers providing guidance on equipment use while traditional emergency response vehicles are en route.

Over the next 12 months, TGH, ArcherFRS, and Manatee County will evaluate the program's performance to determine its scalability and broader applicability across the state. Manatee County residents seeking more information on the program can visit mymanatee.org/drone.

The launch of this innovative drone program marks a significant step forward in emergency response, leveraging cutting-edge technology to save lives and improve outcomes for those in need of immediate medical attention.

Photo courtesy of Bloom Tampa Bay / Brody Wooddell

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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