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Comparison of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Technology Versus Standard Practice in Identification of Hazards at a Mass Casualty Incident Scenario by Primary Care Paramedic Students

  • Trevor Jain (a1), Aaron Sibley (a1), Henrik Stryhn (a2) and Ives Hubloue (a3)

The proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has the potential to change the situational awareness of incident commanders allowing greater scene safety. The aim of this study was to compare UAV technology to standard practice (SP) in hazard identification during a simulated multi-vehicle motor collision (MVC) in terms of time to identification, accuracy and the order of hazard identification.


A prospective observational cohort study was conducted with 21 students randomized into UAV or SP group, based on a MVC with 7 hazards. The UAV group remained at the UAV ground station while the SP group approached the scene. After identifying hazards the time and order was recorded.


The mean time (SD, range) to identify the hazards were 3 minutes 41 seconds (1 minute 37 seconds, 1 minute 48 seconds-6 minutes 51 seconds) and 2 minutes 43 seconds (55 seconds, 1 minute 43 seconds-4 minutes 38 seconds) in UAV and SP groups corresponding to a mean difference of 58 seconds (P=0.11). A non-parametric permutation test showed a significant (P=0.04) difference in identification order.


Both groups had 100% accuracy in hazard identification with no statistical difference in time for hazard identification. A difference was found in the identification order of hazards. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:631–634)

Corresponding author
Correspondence and reprint requests to Trevor Jain, Division of Paramedicine, University of Prince Edward Island, Duffy Science Centre #430, 550 University Ave, Charlottetown, PE, Canada C1A 4P3 (e-mail:
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Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  • ISSN: 1935-7893
  • EISSN: 1938-744X
  • URL: /core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness
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