British paramedics operating in remote locations could soon by using jet suits to carry out search and rescue missions.
Jamie Walsh, a Great North Air Ambulance paramedic, is the first of three trainees to fly the Gravity Industries Jet Suit in the steep hills of the Lake District in the north of England, after just six lessons.
"Initially when I was told about this I thought, it's impossible and then it starts to become possible and then actually you start to see the trials of what’s achievable and now I feel there is a place where this can benefit patients," Mr Walsh said.
Jet suit inventor and developer Richard Browning flew a test route up Helvellyn mountain, completing a 750m climb over a 2km distance in around 3 minutes and 40 seconds.
"If you think about the cost of a paramedic helicopter and all the crew involved and the maintenance and everything, actually this is a faction of that," Mr Browning said.
"I have no doubt that it has its place in the portfolio of equipment that these kind of professionals have at their finger tips."
The 3D printed suit consists of two small turbines attached to each arm and a larger one mounted on the back.
It can reach speeds in excess of 125 kilometres an hour and is technically capable of reaching an altitude of 3,650m, but for safety reasons is flown much lower.
The next stage of the project is to get the paramedics flight skills to a level where real emergency assistance will arrive via jet suit paramedics in the Lake District, providing on-site triage and urgent casualty response in a matter of minutes rather than hours.