September 30, 2020 – Incredible footage of mountain rescue paramedics trialling jet suits for future use in rapid first response. We spoke to the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service to get their verdict and ask if this will be part of the future of HGSS
Flying above incredible terrain not unlike that found around Lika and Velebit in Croatia, paramedics in the UK’s Lake District have been videoed trialling jet suits. They could soon join regular mountain rescue services and air ambulance crews as part of any rapid first response required in difficult to reach places.
In Croatia, such tasks are undertaken by HGSS – the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service, who TCN profiled not long ago. We again spoke to their head of service Josip Granić to ask if jet suits are part of the future of HGSS?
Are Jet Suits the future of HGSS?
“It looks interesting. And fun,” Granić told TCN. “I am sure that if it starts to become regular equipment used elsewhere it could make our job much easier and there will be a place for this in the future of HGSS.”
The benefits of jet suits being any part of the future of HGSS are obvious – they can locate and assist injured hikers or mountaineers in a fraction of the time of land-bound rescuers. The test flight footage shows the suit’s inventor Richard Browning flying across the Langdale Pikes looking for walkers in a simulated casualty scenario. Within minutes, he locates a woman and child that would have taken rescuers on foot over one hour to find. But, although the future of HGSS could be assisted by such suits, mountain rescuers will surely not be the only ones to whom they are available.
“They will also create a completely new set of risks and potential accidents in more remote areas,” said Granić, with a cautionary tone. HGSS members are volunteers and already put themselves in considerable danger to assist those in need of help. Jet suits add an extra dimension of risk for anyone wearing them and the recreational use of jet suits could place further stress on the future of HGSS.
“I’m sure it will be a great tool once it’s out on the market,” says Granić, “but it could also be a great toy and that could be problematic because it will open up a completely new set of problems. But since we are the service for problem-solving, I’m sure that HGSS will find a way to deal with it.”