A pioneering British jet suit company is giving super-human powers to the response of emergency services for search and rescue missions in remote locations in the north of England.
Jamie Walsh, a Great North Air Ambulance (GNAAS) paramedic, is the first of three trainees to fly the Gravity Industries Jet Suit in the steep hills of the Lake District, after just 6 lessons.
“Initially when I was told about this I thought, it’s impossible and then it starts to become possible and then actually you start to see the trials of what’s achievable and now I feel there is a place where this can benefit patients,” Walsh told Reuters half way up Helvellyn.
Jet Suit inventor and developer Richard Browning flew a test route up Helvellyn, completing a more than 2,000-foot climb over a 1.2-mile distance in around 3 minute 40 seconds.
“If you think about the cost of a paramedic helicopter and all the crew involved and the maintenance and everything, actually this is a faction of that,” Browning said.
“I have no doubt that it has its place in the portfolio of equipment that these kind of professionals have at their finger tips.”
The 3D printed suit consists of two small turbines attached to each arm and a larger one mounted on the back. It can reach speeds in excess of 80 mph and is technically capable of reaching an altitude of 12,000 feet but for safety reasons is flown much lower.
The next stage of the project is to get the paramedics flight skills to a level where real emergency assistance will arrive via Jet Suit paramedics in the Lake District, providing on-site triage and urgent casualty response in a matter of minutes rather than hours.