Combat & Casualty Care

Q1 2016

Military Magazines in the United States and Canada, Covering Combat and Casualty Care, first responders, rescue and medical products programs and news\Tactical Defense Media

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tacticaldefensemedia.com 18 | Combat & Casualty Care | Spring 2016 In the future, rescue and medevac at sea will be conducted by unmanned surface vessels. By Edward Lundquist, C&CC Correspondent S earch and rescue (SAR) at sea is often time consuming and dangerous. Once missing or injured people are located and rescued, they have to be delivered to a care facility. Singapore-based Zycraft is developing its 56-foot Vigilant-class Independent Unmanned Surface Vessel (IUSV) to respond to SAR cases and serve as a medical evacuation sea-ambulance. Because Vigilant carries modular payloads, it can be configured with the unmanned search and rescue mission package, which includes special radar and electro-optic day and night camera systems to conduct wide area searches. James Soon, president of Zycraft, says it isn't necessary to always have people on rescue vessels when unmanned craft can accomplish the task without putting rescuers' lives at risk. "Technology has advanced to a point where the option of using unmanned vessels for SAR is real." Target Track and Double Back The drone can be assigned a systematic search pattern that follows pre-planned tracks to completely cover the area. The search data can be recorded and reviewed later to assist in any investigation. After a casualty is spotted, the SAR payload is capable of remote recovery of either ambulatory or unconscious casualties. The IUSV is equipped with a robotic arm that is controlled from the shore base by a manned operator. "Once placed in the stretcher, cameras and biomedical sensors will provide status of the casualty's pulse, temperature and health condition so that the base can then plan accordingly for further medical treatment and resources," says Soon. The craft will be able to recover up to eight casualties lying in a special litter rack. If there are conscious casualties, an additional 15 persons can be seated in other areas within the IUSV. "The robotic arm is also designed to tag bodies in the water for future recovery so that space on-board the IUSV is reserved for survivors, leaving body recovery as a last act once survivors are accounted for," according to Soon. According to Soon, the IUSV could carry a medic or rescue swimmer, even though the boat would be controlled from ashore. Therefore the rescue team doesn't have to operate the boat and can rest or treat patients. It has active gyro stabilization, providing a steady platform and comfortable ride for patients and passengers. It's stable enough to permit a helicopter to airlift recovered casualties to receive urgent treatment. Endurance Now and Evolving The IUSV is controlled using a satellite data and communications link, so long-distance searches are possible. "For prolonged searches, a change of an operator at an observation desk in a communications room at the shore base replaces the need to change a fatigued crew," Soon says. "We take the limitations of the human being out of the SAR operation, which leads to longer endurance missions and the ability to deploy more frequently." Don't expect to find an IUSV SAR boat conducting a rescue at sea just yet, however; there are still some technology and policy issues to address. "We don't have all the answers yet, as SAR is a new area of development for our company. We know the technology is there. The IUSV part is proven. Getting SAR authorities to exploit the new technologies is the work ahead." CARE WITH NO ONE THERE Unmanned Medical Response Top: Singapore-based Zycraft is developing its 56-foot Vigilant-class Independent Unmanned Surface Vessel (IUSV) to respond to SAR cases and serve as a medical evacuation sea- ambulance. (Zycraft) Middle: Vigilant carries modular payloads and can be confgured with the unmanned search and rescue mission package, which includes special radar and electro-optic day and night camera systems to conduct wide area searches. (Zycraft) Bottom: After a casualty is spotted, a drone search and rescue (SAR) payload is capable of remote recovery of either ambulatory or unconscious casualties. (Zycraft)

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