A test flight in the Lake District has demonstrated the potential for the use of jet suits for paramedics in a mountain rescue setting, a new approach that could in theory supplement ground-based mountain rescue teams, air ambulance and rescue helicopters.
In a collaboration between Gravity Industries, which has developed a Jet Suit, and the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), a test pilot flew from the valley bottom in Langdale to a simulated casualty site on The Band, Bowfell.
The site would have taken around 25 minutes to reach by foot, say GNAAS, but the Gravity Jet Suit was able to cover that distance in 90 seconds.
Is this a glimpse of the future for critical care response in tricky off-road areas?
Andy Mawson, director of operations and paramedic at GNAAS, identified the Lakes as a possible location for a Jet Suit paramedic after studying the charity's call-out data.
"It showed dozens of patients every month within the complex but relatively small geographical footprint of the Lakes" he said.
"We could see the need. 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."
Andy Mawson said the exercise had demonstrated the 'huge potential' of Jet Suits in the delivery of critical care services.
He added: "In a time in healthcare when we are exhausted with COVID and its effects, it's important to still push the boundaries.
"Our aircraft will remain a vital part of the emergency response in this terrain, as will the fantastic mountain rescue teams. 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."