UK Rescue Service Tests Jetpacks For Mountain Paramedics

GNAAS, a helicopter rescue service, says the jetpack will help them to save lives.
Chris Young

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) — a UK registered charity that provides helicopter emergency services — has just announced that it is testing a new and exciting addition to its fleet — the Gravity Industries jetpack.

All going well, the charity will one day be able to fly paramedics up to hard-to-reach places using the jetpack, which would allow them to save lives by reaching emergencies in a fraction of the time.


Overcoming treacherous terrain

GNAAS is testing the Gravity Industries jetpack for the UK's Lake District, a picturesque national park that attracts many visitors but can also be problematic due to its size and its mountainous terrain.

The Lake District's "picturesque panorama of craggy hilltops, mountain tarns, and shimmering lakes draw some 15 million people each year," GNAAS explains on its website.

"But this wild terrain can be treacherous, resulting in several incidents requiring the medical expertise of the Great North Air Ambulance Service critical care team.

"The undulating peaks and valleys can often mean the helicopter is unable to safely land close to the casualty, forcing travel by vehicle or foot," the charity explains. 

That's where this week's announcement of a team-up with Gravity Industries comes in.

A future of flying paramedics

Gravity Industries' jetpack would allow paramedics and first responders to fly up the mountain in 90 seconds rather than 30 minutes and land safely, according to GNAAS director of operations Andy Mawson.

“In a jet pack, what might have taken up to an hour to reach the patient may only take a few minutes, and that could mean the difference between life and death,” he told the BBC.

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“If the idea takes off, the flying paramedic will be armed with a medical kit, with strong pain relief for walkers who may have suffered fractures, and a defibrillator for those who may have suffered a heart attack,” Mawson continued.

As part of the announcement of the collaboration, Gravity Industries founder Richard Browning completed a demo at the Lake District of the jet suit, which is powered by 5 turbines, has 1050 HP, and can reach speeds of up to 85 mph (136 km/h). Take a look at the video of the demonstration below.