Vernon Search and Rescue (VSAR) has received a handheld scanner to help it find people lost in local lakes faster.
Every year, VSAR is dispatched on water searches.
The new equipment is expected to help the search and rescue volunteers bring search subjects to medical help or give their family closure.
“It’s a type of sonar, but rather than a sonar where you have to figure out what you’re looking at, it has its own analytics software to scan the area. It will actually bring an ‘x’ up where it thinks there is a body,” explained search manager Trevor Honigman.
It’s a step up on the technology the group was previously using for underwater searches.
“Before we would use a type of sonar, almost like a fish finder sonar, and it’s not as accurate and it takes a long time to search an area,” said Honigman.
“This unit allows us to get to an area where we think a victim is and narrow down that search area really very rapidly.”
Fellow VSAR member Brad Kiggins donned a dry suit to demonstrate the device in the icy water of Okanagan Lake on Monday.
Holding the fluorescent box by its handle, he slowly moved it back and forth underwater to scan an area of the lake covered by ice.
The results show up on a digital display on the top of the scanner.
Kiggins said the company behind the device donated it to Vernon Search and Rescue because they serve an area with lots of lakes.
The search and rescue crew will be giving the company feedback on how the device works in the field.
While VSAR hasn’t needed it for a search yet, the trial runs have gone well.
“This actually gives us the coordinates of where that person might be.”