Underwater camera will aid finding drowning victims - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Underwater camera will aid finding drowning victims

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May 18, 2005

Albany -- Firefighters don't just put out fires, they're often called to help rescue people or recover bodies. Now, Albany Firefighters have a new high tech tool to help locate drowning victims still underwater.

Albany Fire Department firefighters are training this month with the Atlantis Underwater camera. Captain Ron Rowe said "Traditionally what we do is kind of a blind search with crude method of rope and hooks."

But now Firefighters can actually see what's below the surface, with a monitor and camera system. "You notice the sandy bottom there. You can turn the camera slowly. You see the shells and the rocks."

They use the camera to find a drowning victim. Rowe said "I think I got him. There he is." A dummy is submerged in the water, and each firefighter will use the camera to find him. "see the arm and the torso. Right here is where we would take means to retrieve whatever is down there. And there's the head."

 Rowe said "this is giving us an advantage to try and locate something, before going into a dive situation."

 Now the camera, with lights, can speed up the search, where drowning victims are believed to be. Chief James Carswell said "This gives us another tool, and some situations maybe will minimize the time that the body is underwater."

The camera will also make underwater searches safer for emergency crews, but takes some practice. Rowe said "When you are working with this camera, you takes a team effort going on. Boat operator and a camera operator, otherwise the current of the water will move your camera, and you'll never find anything."

That is why the Fire Department is training their people to best use their new underwater camera.

Merck & Co. in Albany donated the underwater camera to the Albany Fire Department

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