When hikers get stuck in England’s Lake District National Park it can be difficult for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) to rescue them.
After a year of talks, GNAAS took an unconventional approach to solve the problem. It enlisted the help of Gravity Industries, a technology firm that makes a body-controlled, jet engine-powered suit — kind of like the one Iron Man wears.
Director of operations at GNAAS, Andy Mawson came up with the idea to implement the suit, which just completed its first test flight at the park. With the gear, a paramedic can fly to a fell top in 90 seconds instead of the 30 minutes it would take on foot.
“There are dozens of patients every month within the complex but relatively small geographical footprint of the Lakes,” Mawson told BBC News. “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.”
Richard Browning, founder of Gravity Industries, operated the suit, which has a top speed of 80 miles per hour, for the test flight. It has two mini engines on each arm and one on the back which allows its wearer to control the unit by moving their hands.
“The biggest advantage is its speed,” Mawson told BBC News. “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 believes the difference in time can be the difference between life and death.
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