A Ukrainian relief agency is eagerly awaiting delivery this week of a Draganfly Medical Response Drone it intends to use to transport vital medical supplies, such as antibiotics and insulin, to field hospitals in wartorn areas of southern and eastern Ukraine.
The delivery is part of a fleet of medical response and search and rescue drones headed into Ukraine and provided by Draganfly and Coldchain Delivery Systems to Revived Soldiers Ukraine (RSU), an organization focused on providing a humanitarian response to those left injured amid the ongoing Russia’s invasion.
RSU expects to receive the medical response drone—the first of an initial donation of three—and begin operations by the end of this week ferrying medical supplies into Russian occupied areas, the organization’s president and founder Iryna Vashchuk Discipio told FLYING.
The relief agency anticipates it will receive two Draganfly search-and-rescue drones next week. Those drones will be used to try to find the location of civilians in occupied areas, she said.
The medical response drones are outfitted with a temperature-managed payload box capable of transporting up to 35 pounds of medical supplies, such as blood, insulin, syringes, and wound dressings, the company said. The search-and-rescue variants are a high-endurance, multirotor drone capable of providing optical and infrared imaging to map certain areas and locate survivors.
“Draganfly’s proprietary Medical Response and Search and Rescue Drones will provide crews with visual oversight during humanitarian aid operations and will help ensure the timely delivery of temperature-sensitive medical supplies and life-saving equipment to dangerous or hard-to-reach areas,” the company said in a statement.
“The entire team at Coldchain Delivery Systems is focused on providing as much support as possible to the people of Ukraine during this incredibly difficult time,” Wayne Williams, founder and executive director of Coldchain Delivery Systems, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Draganfly and RSU to ensure the timely delivery of temperature-sensitive medical supplies including blood, medicine, and vaccines to those in need.”
It’s a capability desperately needed in areas of Ukraine ravaged by fighting, Discipio said. She launched RSU in 2015 as a means to connect injured Ukrainian troops with hospitals in the U.S. for treatment following the war launched by the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea.
The region of Ukraine is once again in vital need of medical support, she said. The high rate of civilian injuries means getting antibiotics to field hospitals is the number one priority. Without them, injuries can spiral, leading to limb amputations or death, she said.
“We will try to deliver that aid by using those drones in the most needed areas that Ukrainians cannot access,” Discipio said. “We’re trying to save as many lives as possible.”
The medical response drone will be flown by an experienced operator trained specifically in transporting medical supplies, she said. The relief agency is also in communication with Ukrainian forces in the region to coordinate its flight path.
But in a war zone with contested airspace, there’s plenty of reason to worry while it’s en route.
“We hope they won’t get shot down,” Discipio said. “With Russians shooting people, they will definitely shoot down a drone.”
In addition to the three drones donated by Draganfly, the drone manufacturer said it is also providing an additional combination of 10 medical response and search-and-rescue drones to the organization, with an order provisioned for up to 200 units.
“Draganfly received an order for the company’s North American-made Medical Response and Search and Rescue Drones from Coldchain Delivery Systems for immediate deployment with Revived Soldiers Ukraine (RSU),” company spokesperson Carl Garnich said. “Working closely with Coldchain Delivery Systems, Draganfly will provide an immediate combined total of five Medical Response Drones and five Search and Rescue Drones to RSU. Currently, the total initial order size is up to 200 units. Due to the rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine, the order size could change.”
Those 10 drones are scheduled to be sent following the delivery of the three donated drones, Garnich said.
RSU is hoping to buy additional drones with donations in order to scale up the humanitarian efforts.
Sponsoring a drone for the relief agency comes with an unusual perk.
“You can even put your name on the drone if you want,” Discipio said.