Jet pack paramedic flies to 'casualty' in trial in the Lake District

29 September 2020, 12:31 | Updated: 29 September 2020, 20:09

By Asher McShane

Paramedics could be flying by jet pack to isolated casualties in rough terrain on the UK's natural beauty spots.

An air ambulance service has hailed a new system, which is currently being tested in the Lake District, as "awesome."

The system was demonstrated in a test flight in the Lake District after a year of discussions between the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) and the firm which has developed the technology, Gravity Industries.

Chief test pilot Richard Browning flew from the valley bottom in Langdale, Cumbria, to a simulated casualty site on The Band, near Bowfell.

The jet pack suit was trialled in the Lake District
The jet pack suit was trialled in the Lake District. Picture: PA

GNAAS said the casualty site would have taken around 25 minutes to reach by foot but Mr Browning arrived in his 1050 brake horsepower jet suit in 90 seconds.

Andy Mawson, director of operations and paramedic at GNAAS, said the Lake District could be a possible location for a "Jet Suit paramedic" following a study of the charity's call-out data.

The system means remote patients could be reached in seconds
The system means remote patients could be reached in seconds. Picture: PA

He said: "It showed dozens of patients every month within the complex but relatively small geographical footprint of the Lakes.

"We could see the need. What we didn't know for sure is how this would work in practice. Well, we've seen it now and it is, quite honestly, awesome."

The jet pack suit was trialled in the Lake District
The jet pack suit was trialled in the Lake District. Picture: PA

Mr Mawson said: "In a time in healthcare when we are exhausted with Covid and its effects, it's important to still push the boundaries.

"Our aircraft will remain a vital part of the emergency response in this terrain, as will the fantastic mountain rescue teams. But this is about looking at supplementing those resources with something completely new.

"We think this technology could enable our team to reach some patients much quicker than ever before. In many cases this would ease the patient's suffering. In some cases, it would save their lives."

The jet pack suit was trialled in the Lake District
The jet pack suit was trialled in the Lake District. Picture: PA

Mr Browning said: "It was wonderful to be invited to explore the capabilities of the Gravity Jet Suit in an emergency response simulation and work alongside the team at GNAAS.

"We are just scratching the surface in terms of what is possible to achieve with our technology. Emergency response is one of the areas Gravity are actively pursuing, alongside launching a new commercial training location at the world-renowned Goodwood Estate."

GNAAS and Gravity Industries said they wanted to thank Langdale Mountain Rescue Team, the National Trust, Stool End Farm and Cumbria Police for helping make the test possible.

GNAAS is a charity which provides air ambulance coverage across North-East England, Cumbria and North Yorkshire from bases at Langwathby, near Penrith, Eaglescliffe, near Stockton-on-Tees and Newcastle International Airport.

It responds to more than 1,500 callouts a year and relies on donations to fund its operations, which last year cost £5.3 million.