Hovercrafts, personal rockets, and backpack jet engines have tickled the fancy of people, technologies, engineers, and aviators for decades, tapping into the human desire to fly without wings or even planes. They are, however, often painted as something more for personal enjoyment or travel, at least when such machines finally take off, no pun intended. Two companies in the UK, however, have joined forces to develop a system that will let paramedics fly to an emergency site when helicopters won’t even do.
Not all places can be easily reached by emergency vehicles in the air or even on land. While those places may be accessible on foot, the time it would take to get to someone in need of help could make a difference between life or death. One such place is the Lake District, one of the UK’s most famous but also treacherous national parks, requiring outside the box thinking to get paramedics where they’re needed.
That’s where the collaboration between Gravity Industries and the Great North Air Ambulance Service comes in. The former is the company founded by Richard Browning who became renowned for his “Iron Man” Jet-powered suit. Together with the helicopter emergency service charity, the two have developed the Jet Suit Paramedic in the hopes of reaching patients faster and safer.
Browning himself flew the suit in a successful test flight at the Langdale Pikes. The journey from the bottom of the valley to a target site at The Band near Bowfell would normally take 25 minutes to reach by foot. It only took the Jet Suit paramedic a minute and a half.
It is just the first step in making the Jet Suit paramedic an official emergency tool. The suit, which will be operated by a paramedic, is simply meant to get the emergency care worker to a site and isn’t meant to bring a patient to a hospital. That will take more than a one-man suit, of course, leaving room for innovation in that niche space as well.