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Seabotix Rugged, Capable, Compact ROV's.

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JW Fishers - Press Release - December 13, 2004


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 visibility.

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 or visit their website


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