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Renfrew paramedics looking to fly drones farther

Transport Canada has approved a distance of 3.7 km out of sight, but County of Renfrew paramedics could one day be flying them 37 km.
Strict new regulations have been put in place to regulate the use of drones in Canada (Leith Dunick,

Paramedics in the County of Renfrew continue to push the boundaries of where they are able to fly drones.

According to Paramedic Chief Michael Nolan, new regulations from Transport Canada give permission for his crew to fly drones out of sight two nautical miles (3.7 km), during the day or night. 

He told The Rick Gibbons Show, the devices are mostly being used to deliver defibrillators to crashes when traffic is backed up, to remote islands, or to anywhere that access is restricted somehow.

"I can think of one example where we had a motor vehicle collision, the occupant of the vehicle had been thrown from the vehicle and we didn't know how many more people might be on scene," explained Nolan. "To be able to put that drone up,with heat-sensing capability, and give the paramedics reassurance that there wasn't anybody left behind in the ravine or in the bush is not only good for the victims, but it's also good for the responders to have some closure and be able to focus on the people at hand."

Nolan said his department is getting new approvals from Transport Canada every six months, and as those come he is hoping to see the flying range for drones extended to 10, 15 and 20 nautical miles (37 km).

"Think about Algonquin Park, for example, we want to be able to get in to someone at a portage in anaphylaxis and deliver life-saving medication," he describes.

Nolan added that, realistically, he can see Transport Canada doubling their range over the next year.

Farther into the future, not only would the Renfrew paramedics chief like to drones travelling greater distances, but getting into more complex urban environments and see more automated technology implemented so that when dispatch receives a call, someone can simply push a button and send a defibrillator.

Listen to Paramedic Chief Michael Nolan's full conversation with Rick Gibbons:

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