Side scan sonar system obtained by Midwest Regional Dive Team

Members of the Midwest Regional Dive Team have obtained a vital piece of equipment after two years of raising funds and seeking donations.

The $37,000 side scan sonar system allows members of the rescue team to see objects below the water’s surface without having to send down a diver.

Using divers in missions can be dangerous depending on water depth, current, underwater obstructions and visibility. The side scan sonar system, housed in a towfish, is towed through the water behind the boat, usually about four feet from the bottom. The images returned to the connected computer resemble aerial photographs that can be viewed in real time on the boat.

The side scan sonar can search a path of 66 feet to 164 feet wide. Often using search grids to not skip over an area, the side scan sonar includes a global positioning system is used to guide the towing vessel along predetermined search lines. Stored GPS location information can allow searchers to return to any point in the image for further investigation.

Not only is the side scan sonar safer for divers, it allows rescue teams to search a large area more quickly and can be used to evaluate possible hazards before divers enter the water.

The Midwest Regional Dive Team consists of members representing the Red Oak Fire Department, Clarinda Fire Department, Ringgold Community Water Emergency Team, Corning Fire Department and Cass County Dive Team. The regional dive team formed in 2006 after a search at Mozingo Lake in Maryville.

Red Oak dive team member, Kenny Hamman recalled members of the Clarinda Dive Team were called down to search but were unable to recover the victim. Exhausted, they contacted members from Red Oak, who were also unsuccessful after numerous hours and attempts. Members from Ringgold County were then called down to aid in the search. It was during this moment the separate dive teams decided to pool resources and work as one.

Each individual team has its own truck, trailer, boat, and ropes, but when a call comes in to 911, it is dispatched to all the teams, who respond at a moment’s notice. Each dive team has one member who serves on an executive committee, which meets once a month. The teams also trains monthly at various bodies of water. The Midwest Regional Dive Team covers southwest Iowa, northwest Missouri and southeast Nebraska. They not only search and recover bodies, but have assisted various law enforcement agencies and have aided in criminal investigations. Every diver is a volunteer and must be a first responder.

It was Sheriff Randy Strong from Nodaway County Missouri who helped the dive team obtain $20,000 for the side solar scan system.

Hamman said Strong would like for Nodaway County to have its own dive team, which is in the beginning stages. Once established, it would join in with the regional dive team.

Jeff, Jacob and Jordan Fort of Red Oak Fabrication donated close to $11,700; Southwest Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative’s Step Up program contributed $4,000; Adams County Fair/Speedway $500 and members of the Red Oak department the remaining funds necessary for purchase.

Donations are always accepted and can be sent to any of the Red Oak Fire Department in care of the dive team.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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