- Paramedics in the United Kingdom are training to use a jet suit to respond to emergencies in hard-to-reach locations.
- Later this year, the Lake District in the United Kingdom wants to deploy jet pack paramedics in the field.
- Other paramedics admire the jet suit’s promise of rapid response, but they have doubts.
Air Ambulance Service of the Great North
Some superheroes don’t even wear capes; instead, they fly in jet suits.
The Great North Air Ambulance Services (GNAAS) is training paramedics in jet suits so they can reach and treat medical emergencies in the UK’s Lake District faster than ever before. Other paramedics interviewed by Lifewire were enthusiastic about the development but sceptical about its usefulness in real-life situations.
“I think it might be very advantageous in places of hard terrain or extended ground response times,” Christopher Hammett, a firefighter paramedic with the Pinellas Park Fire Department in Florida, told Lifewire over WhatsApp. “A single or dual jetpack response may appear far-fetched, but it might be the difference between early stabilisation and life-saving measures.”
Starting Off on a High Note
Gravity Industries, which was founded by British inventor Richard Browning, who not only invented the portable flying machine but also served as its principal test pilot, designed the jet suit utilised in the GNAAS testing. Browning set a new speed record in 2019 when he flew the jet suit at over 85 mph.
Soon after, GNAAS partnered with Gravity to test strapping the jet suits to paramedics to reduce the time it takes to offer emergency care to patients in difficult-to-reach areas of the Lake District.
According to GNAAS, one paramedic has accomplished their first free flight, safely operating the jet suit without assistance, after multiple delays due to extraordinary circumstances over the last couple of years. Others will soon follow them.
“The next stage, expect to begin in the summer,” according to the news release, “will elevate paramedics’ flight skills to an level where real operational experience can be assessed, and real aid will arrive through jet suit paramedics in the Lake District.”
Gravity claims to have made significant improvements to the suit since the first trials in 2020. The jets in the suits have more powerful turbine engines that start faster in their latest form, and the suit itself is now fully 3D-printed in polypropylene, making it more agile.
There are five engines in total, two on each arm and one on the back. This allows the pilot to just move their hands to control their movement. A heads-up display is also included in the helmet, which shows engine information and speed.
The suit’s official FAQ states, “Our objective is to provide the option to assign waypoints to that display for the paramedic to follow.”
Do you want to fly by night?
The suit can hold up to 33 pounds of equipment, allowing paramedics to carry basics like a defibrillator and patient monitoring devices.
Pranay Nayak (Registration Number: 771048), who worked as an Extended Care Paramedic at St. John Ambulance Service in Hamilton, New Zealand, is sceptical of the usefulness of a paramedic in a jet suit.
Air Ambulance Service of the Great North
Nayak, who works as a single crew response unit, told Lifewire over Facebook Messenger that he drives a Holden Commodore station waggon and that because he doesn’t have enough room for all of the equipment he needs as a first responder, his coworkers are working on a Toyota Highlander version to allow him to carry more gear.
“I used to work as a helicopter pilot and would occasionally run out of gear. Rapid response, stabilisation, and transport to medical institutions are all important factors in a rapid patient outcome, and I don’t believe the jet pack will achieve those requirements “Nayak observed.
Tom Worthington, an educational technology specialist, believes the entire concept is nonsense. “It’s possible that a single-person drone might be more useful. The paramedic may strap the patient in and have the helicopter fly them to safety before returning empty [for the paramedic] “On Twitter, Worthington expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation.
Hammett isn’t dismissive of the concept, but he does emphasise that in any rescue emergency, crew safety is paramount, and he wouldn’t consider utilising the jet packs until he was certain that the response would be as safe as possible.
“Rapid transfer of a patient would be a challenge, but it appears that getting rescuers to the patient [in difficult-to-reach regions] is already a challenge,” Hammett added. “At the very least, this might bring a first responder to the patient swiftly to provide initial care.”