Fishers - Press Release - December 13, 2004
POLICE AND RESCUE DIVERS
MOVE TO HIGH TECH EQUIPMENT
As a normal part of their job,
police and rescue divers perform many difficult
and dangerous tasks. One of the toughest is the
search and recovery of drowning victims. Until
recently, the primary method of doing this type
of search involved putting divers in the water
to grope around in near zero visibility conditions.
These searches were long and tedious even for
small search areas.
In the last few years technology has been developed
that makes the job of these unsung heroes much
easier. Side scan sonar is a high tech tool that
allows victims to be located without the need
to put a diver in the water. Previously only in
use by the military and large commercial operations,
side scans are now affordable enough for almost
every police department and dive rescue group.
The reason they're in such great demand is that
they can scan large areas quickly and produce
a detailed picture of the bottom regardless of
Here's an example of how this technology helped
one department. On Christmas day last year a terrible
tragedy struck the tight-knit community of Knoxville,
Tennessee. A man and his twenty month old baby
went into the icy waters of the Tennessee River.
Members of the city's all volunteer rescue squad
were at the scene in less than 30 minutes. Despite
an exhaustive search effort, eventually involving
agencies from across the state using divers, dogs,
and helicopters, it took over a month to locate
the bodies. As the search progressed over several
weeks rescue workers came to know Kristie Blalock
Brown, mother of the baby. Kristie and her family
were on site serving meals to the volunteers and
helping in any way they could. The family had
a chance to observe first hand the often treacherous
conditions divers had to work in. Team members
explained to Kristie that the technology existed
to perform this type of search operation without
putting divers in the water to grope in the darkness,
but the team didn't have the money to buy it.
Ms. Brown took it upon herself to raise the funds
needed for the team to buy a side scan sonar system,
so no other mother would have to endure what she
went through - the wait to find the body of a
loved one. With a tremendous outpouring of support
from the community, in less than a year she was
able to raise over $25,000. At a gathering covered
by news media from across the state, Kristie and
her family presented the Knoxville Volunteer Rescue
Squad with a check to purchase a new JW Fishers
dual frequency side scan sonar. At the ceremony
Kristie said, "It's unbelievable that something
so good could have come out of something so bad."
Upon receiving the equipment the team named the
sonar "Little Will" in memory of Kristie's
baby, William Brown.
Only days after the new high tech search system
arrived, a young boy drown while swimming in the
river. Now that they had the right equipment the
team proved things would be different this time.
Within hours the squad was able to locate and
recover the victim. Team Capt. Ed Cate said, "This
would have been another difficult search operation
for the divers. Visibility in the river was less
than 2 feet and a current was running which had
moved the victim some distance from the initial
search area. Using the sonar we were able to cover
a large area quickly and recover the body before
it was swept further downstream. This equipment
will not only save thousands of man hours in search
operations, it will save families the pain of
not knowing what has happened to their loved ones".
For more information on high tech underwater search
equipment contact JW Fishers at firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit their website www.jwfishers.com.