Jetpacks to the rescue on Britain’s mountains

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LAKE DISTRICT, England (Reuters) — A pioneering jet suit company is adding super-human power to the response of emergency services on Britain’s mountains.

UK-based Gravity Industries has been working with paramedics in the rural Lake District to test its jet suit’s capabilities in emergency situations.

In one test simulation, a 10-year-old girl had fallen from cliffs and sustained a serious leg injury. After receiving the coordinates of the casualty, a jet suit paramedic navigated over rocky hills and postcard scenery to successfully reach the girl in only 90 seconds. The paramedic could then assess her injuries and provide treatment at the scene.

“The potential is just huge,” Helicopter paramedic Andy Mawson said. “The first flight in Cumbria from a jet suit that is going to save lives and ease suffering – an incredible moment.”

It would have taken 25 minutes for responders on foot to navigate the same terrain, the company said. The power of the Gravity jet suit’s 1000bhp jet engines, teamed with the navigation of its human pilot, shaved vital minutes off this response time.

“It’s absolutely astounding how quickly we’re going to be at somebody’s side that needs us,” Mawson said.

The suit has an impressive speed record of 32 miles per hour, seemingly unaffected by the five miniature jet engines mounted on the pilot’s arms and back.

“Who knows what the future holds but this is a start we are very proud of,” said suit inventor Richard Browning.

The suit has an altitude limit of 12,000 feet, meaning a paramedic could even surpass Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in the Lake District and England, whose summit sits at 3,209 feet above sea level.

The Lake District is an area popular with novice hikers despite its harsh terrain and fast-changing weather systems. According to the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, the number of incidents requiring emergency responses in 2019 was 584.

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