United Hatzalah Tests Out New Sonar Device For Locating Drowning Victims Ahead of Swimming Season

On Monday, United Hatzalah completed its successful testing of the new Sonar device that is now fully operational aboard its ambuboat, Salty Mec II. The boat is the newest addition to its fleet of water rescue vehicles on the Kinneret in Israel’s north. The test was conducted together with the Israeli Police Maritime Unit. The test culminated a lengthy trial period during which the device’s capabilities were tested in numerous scenarios by the organization’s volunteers from Tevaria and divers from the Police unit.  

The ambuboat is the first fully operational water ambulance and its sonar is capable of scanning the ground at the bottom of the Kinneret while looking for drowning victims or people who have gone missing at sea. The sonar was specifically outfitted to comply with the needs of the search and rescue operations of the boat and will prevent multiple unnecessary dive in search of people missing on the lake. These multiple dives took long periods of time during which rescuers were not reaching the victims and they at times were even life-threatening when done during stormy weather.

During the final testing drill that took place on Monday, a life-sized doll, imitating a human body, was sunk to the Kinneret seabed and was found quickly by the ambuboat’s sonar. The diving team headed over in the boat and was able to quickly remove the doll from the waters culminating in a successful test.  

United Hatzalah Chapter head of the Tevaria Region Yossi Vaknin summed up the testing phase by saying: “We have been operating rescue boats and jet skis for a number of years already on the Kinneret during swimming season in an effort to aid swimmers who are pulled out to the middle of the lake by the strong undertow and cannot get back to shore. Over the past few years, our team of volunteers has rescued hundreds of people from drowning on the lake. However, in many instances of drowning which have occurred, we have been forced to rely solely on the Northern Diving Unit to search for those who have gone missing or drowned on the Kinneret. These searches often take days. Now we can make that process much shorter and far more effective. This will allow us to reach victims faster and hopefully save more lives.”

Vaknin continued: “United Hatzalah as answered the call and supplied a vehicle that will answer the urgent need that developed over the previous years. The ambuboat is a highly advanced water ambulance that includes the newly tested state-of-the-art sonar. During today’s test, we threw the doll into the water and waited for it to sink. Once it was on the seafloor we activated the sonar and in a very short time, the device gave an exact location for the doll and teams were able to arrive at the location and bring the doll back to the surface in a very short time. The new device will be ready for the upcoming swimming season and it is our hope that we will only need it for drills and we will be able to prevent any further tragedy from occurring on the lake.”

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