A paramedic in England recently tied a jet pack on his back and tested it for the first time in bad weather conditions.
The successful flight means the kit could be used in mountain rescue missions where high winds and heavy rain would leave a helicopter unable to reach those in need of help.
A video (below) shared by Reuters this week shows Great North Air Ambulance Service rescuer Jamie Walsh flying with the jetpack in challenging weather in Cumbria, some 225 miles north of London.
After training sessions that lasted just over a week, Walsh was able to fly in a way that made it look easy, even if it wasn’t.
“Coming over a ridgeline is a little difficult sometimes, but really if you wait for it, it’s a very stable team and you can counter it, maneuver it and handle it pretty safely,” Walsh said.
The first rescuer said his team was now “in a position to reach a victim on a mountainside in Cumbria”, adding that such equipment was vital for such a place as it is well known for its rain and wind.
A British paramedic trains to speed up rescue work in the mountains with the help of a jet suit pic.twitter.com/T3HnfKKoHq
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 19, 2022
The flight gear, which is 3D printed, comprises two small motors attached to each arm and a third to the rear. The direction of flight is controlled by subtle movements of each arm. It can fly a human at speeds of up to 85 mph at an altitude of 12,000 feet, though as the video points out, pilots generally fly lower and slower for safety reasons.
Speaking shortly after the Cumbria test flight, Browning told Reuters: “What we’ve really learned, as a jet suit company, is that the paramedical response is about getting to the side of that critical care patient super fast, a bit like a paramedic on a motorcycle. You don’t take them to the hospital, you stand by their side to resolve blood loss, a respiratory problem, control pain and triage that patient.”
Browning continued: “Our ability to overcome any terrain in almost any weather and get to that victim, often faster than a helicopter or on foot, proved to be super valuable.”
Browning and his team will continue to refine and test the design with a view to deploying it not only for search and rescue, but also for national defense, and elite forces have also recently tested the kit at sea.