New equipment could help rescue teams find bodies underwater

Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 1:09 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A new piece of technology could help rescue teams find bodies underwater. On Wednesday morning, local agencies got a firsthand look at equipment—that makes it easier to see underwater.

Search and rescue teams have all experienced long days in the water searching for a missing person who could be at the bottom of a lake or river now a new piece of technology could shorten the amount of time teams are having to search. The aqua eye is a handheld device that uses sonar and artificial intelligence to spot objects in the water that could be a person.

“So it will mark people with an X in the water and it will differentiate people from other objects again, based on size density and shape,” said Doug Peyser, with Vodsafe and AquaEye. Jon Klukas, a former U.S. Navy diver, said he has been a part of many body recovery teams and he believes this new tech will help rescue workers stay safer.

“Sadly experienced at looking for bodies in the water during recovery operations in the military, as well as some within the public safety sphere. and this can greatly reduce the time that rescuers or recovery people have to spend in the water,” said Klukas.

The sonar equipment is being used by over 240 teams in North America including 24 agencies here in Michigan. Bob Pratt with Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project said this type of equipment is a game changer for our waters in Michigan.

“Most of our water is murky, a lot of times we call it black water because the visibility is measured in inches and not in feet, and so the side scan sonar has the ability to look through all of that,” said Pratt. The company website said that the device can search an entire acre of water in under 2 minutes.

Currently, there are no agencies using this new sonar device locally. But, representatives from Delhi, East Lansing, and Meridian Fire and Rescue were all present to see it in action.

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