When it comes to saving lives, every minute counts. In particular, the very first ones, which lifeguards and rescuers call the “golden minutes”. Fabien Farge along with David and Anthony Gavend, the three co-founders of the Helper Drone, understand this well! Originally from Landes, they know better than anyone that the sea currents can be formidable if we do not act quickly. They therefore designed a drone to assist rescue professionals at sea. And not just any drone! Designed specifically to withstand extreme weather conditions, high winds and swells, this perfectly identified flying object identifies people at risk and lays a self-inflating buoy nearby. It then sends navigation information to the rescuers to help find victims quickly. A high-quality camera also allows remote control of the condition of the people to rescue.
Tested for two summers on the beaches of Landes, the Helper Drone has already proved itself by helping save 6 lives. And this is only the beginning: the Grand Jury of the 2018 EDF Pulse Awards has decided to award this extremely useful and fully mastered solution, in the “Smart Health & Self” category. It’s a safe bet that this new ally of rescuers will soon meet its next challenge: delivering medical equipment everywhere at sea (oil platforms, for the merchant navy or cruises, etc.), but also on the mainland (in the event of road accidents, fires, hazards on an industrial site, etc.). So, the Helper Drone could become the first link in the rescue chain!
6 lives already saved over the past 2 summers
5 patents filed
The Helper Drone Team
This Landes-based team combines its collective expertise in emergency medicine, software architecture, IoT and electronics to achieve a common goal: to treat victims more quickly using new technologies.
The idea comes from Fabien, co-founder of Helper Drone, who has worked as an emergency doctor on the Landes beaches for 15 years. It was while playing on the beach with a drone that he had recently been given as a present (at the time, he wasn’t aware that it was prohibited) that he had the idea of flying over the waves rather than crossing them to gain precious minutes.
Any recent good news?
Last summer, in 2017, in the context of supervision of bathers on the beaches of Biscarrosse and Lacanau, a scientific study was on the Helper Drone by La Timone Hospital and the SAMU 40, with the aim of demonstrating the benefits in terms of speed of intervention as compared to existing rescue resources. The results of the study are very positive, and we found out a few days ago that it is going to be published in one of the top three scientific journals specialising in emergency medicine. For us, this proves the credibility of our drone and it gives us a lot of exposure.
What is the most unexpected thing that your startup has made you do?
As Total was very interested in our solution for its offshore installations, we were the first company in the world to be authorised to fly a drone on an oil rig. Beyond the totally (no pun intended) incredible environment, it was a huge technical challenge and a week full of training that enabled us to better understand and adapt to the maritime market.
In what way does your project revolutionise your category?
Our strength is our team. Half of its members engineers and the other half doctors, this team has enabled us to offer an innovative technological solution to serve humankind and which is perfectly integrated into the rescue chain. In the space of two years, this led us to the file 5 patents, and, while there had been no technical development for 10 years in the field of inshore rescue, the rescue of 6 lives in the municipality of Biscarrosse alone.