The Lakes District of the United Kingdom is looking to innovate their search and rescue team by becoming the world’s first wilderness area home to a “jet suit paramedic,” which is exactly what it sounds like. A first responder strapped into a jet suit would literally fly over the hills to locate and give medical attention to recreators who have been injured, minimizing the response time and potentially saving lives.
A year of collaboration between Great North Air Ambulance Services (GNAAS), the organization that performs heli-rescues in the Lakes District, and Gravity Industries, the jet suit manufacturer, led to a practice test on September 8. During the test run, a paramedic was able to reach the simulated casualty site in 90 seconds as opposed to a strenuous 25-minute uphill hike on foot.
“We could see the need,” said Andy Mawson, director of operations at paramedics at GNAAS, in a press release. “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 Lakes District is the most popular national park in the UK, drawing over 15 million visitors each year. It’s craggy and treacherous landscape inevitably leads to accidents that necessitate air evacuation. With the implementation of the jet suit, these patients could be located, assessed, and stabilized in a fraction of the time that they otherwise would, and then the rescuer could signal a heli-vac to the precise location.
“Our aircraft will remain a vital part of the emergency response in this terrain, as will the fantastic mountain rescue teams,” said Mawson. “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.”