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Paramedic trials jet suit in the Lakes for the first time

Written by on 06/05/2022

A paramedic from the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) has achieved a significant milestone by flying a jet suit untethered in the Lake District for the first time.

This is building on the success of the first exercise that was carried out back in September 2020 with Gravity Industries, and they have since partnered with the renewable energy leader Ørsted in February 2022.

Jamie Walsh is the first critical care paramedic from GNAAS to be trained in and flying the jet suit in the Lake District with only six days of training, proving how candidates can be rapidly ready to deliver ultra-mobile critical care in harsh terrain.

The journey toward a jet suit-enabled paramedic service with Ørsted and GNAAS started in February 2022 and aims to train experienced paramedics from the charity to use the suit to access real patients in the Lake District.

Ørsted has significantly accelerated the journey towards the milestone achieved this week, and the deep expertise of Andy Mawson, director of operations at GNAAS and Sarah Graham, GNAAS paramedic, made the flight possible. The technology advancements in the jet suit, which now has more powerful turbine engines that start faster and a jet suit structure that is fully 3D printed, resulted in increased manoeuvrability and faster deployment.

Richard Browning, founder and chief test pilot at Gravity Industries, said: “This is an exciting milestone in the rapid progression of applying this unique flight technology in the arena of paramedic response. We are delighted that the trial has demonstrated not only the speed with which we can train capable candidates but also the ground-breaking speed of the response in a first mission in Helvellyn: 750m height gain; 1.8km distance covered in three minutes and 30 seconds in a jet suit versus 60 minutes in conventional on-foot response.”

Peter Teglman Schiøler, product owner, Orsted Lab_ Product Line at Ørsted, said: “This is a very exciting milestone in the trials. This wouldn’t have been able to happen without Gravity and GNAAS being experts in their field. With this trial we start seeing the potential of the jet suit technology. Seeing such a significant reduction in response time proves that the technology fits well into the GNAAS paramedic operation in the Lake District and will indeed provide a great safety improvement for the people in need.”

Andy Mawson, director of operations at GNAAS, said: “Patient care is at the forefront of everything we do at GNAAS and the success of this next stage of the jet suit trial is a great step towards helping us reach more patients. Jamie’s flight is a crucial milestone of this journey however there is still lots to be done. We will now be looking at completing the training, as well as development of the medical equipment and ongoing development of communications and navigations.”

The next stage, looking to commence in the Summer, will bring GNAAS paramedics flight skills to a level where real operational experience can be assessed – and real assistance will arrive via jet suit paramedics in the Lake District. The main areas of focus for the jet suit paramedic would be on-site triage and urgent casualty response that should drastically improve patient stability and survivability.