Charity trials the use of 'jet suits' to help save lives

Great North Air Ambulance Service says the flying suits would enable paramedics to reach injured people far more quickly than they could on foot

(Photograph: Jim Entwistle/Great North Air Ambulance Service)
(Photograph: Jim Entwistle/Great North Air Ambulance Service)

A charity has been involved in a trial that could lead to it using jet suits to reach injured people more quickly. 

Great North Air Ambulance Service said it had been working with the pioneers of the technology and had conducted a successful trial in the Lake District. 

The charity, which operates helicopters and rapid response vehicles that attend emergencies in north-east England, Cumbria and North Yorkshire, said the undulating terrain of the Lake District meant a helicopter was often unable to land safely near any incident. 

As part of the test, Richard Browning, founder of Gravity Industries, flew from the bottom of the valley at Langdale Pikes to a simulated casualty site on The Band, near Bowfell. 

It took him 90 seconds to travel a distance that would take almost half an hour to cover on foot. 

The charity said the exercise demonstrated the “considerable potential of utilising jet suits to deliver critical care services”. 

The suits, which have so far reached speeds of up to 85mph, are able to operate for between five and 10 minutes at a time. 

Andy Mawson, director of operations and paramedic at GNAAS, said he was not sure whether the suits would work in practice, but the trial had shown they were “awesome”. 

He said: “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 suits have five mini jet engines – two in each of the units attached to the hands and one built into a backpack.

It is not yet clear whether the charity will end up purchasing any of the suits, which have not yet gone on general sale – but two have been sold for £340,000 each.


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