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Large Area Search and Recovery Tactics

A glimpse into large area search and recovery tactics and how Remotely Operated Vehicles have aided in missions.

It may seem like an impossible task as you glare over a large body of water; knowing that someone has gone missing beneath the alluring surface and it is your mission to find them. Sadly, this scenario takes place often for search and recovery teams.

Before a successful recovery can be carried out, a long, time-consuming, and often frustrating search is conducted.  Effective operations are dependent upon the combination of extensive training, capable equipment, and organized field planning.

Search and Rescue Teams

Search and rescue (SAR) teams are made up of government branches such as local police, firefighters, military, and coast guards. Additionally, volunteers and other organized agencies, similar to the CASDDA Canadian Search and Disaster Dogs Assoc, work together to carry out these missions. To ensure that these groups are ready for the call, they are put through considerable training; preparing the individuals to respond quickly and efficiently, thereby giving them the ability to produce the best possible outcome.

Large Search Area Tactics

In the case of large lake area searches, the body of water would be divided into grids or search radiuses. Experienced divers would be assigned a 10 meter (approx 30 ft.) search radius. Once they complete their examination, they move forward 5 meters and conduct the same radial inspection.


Given that someone has already been lost under the water, these brave divers are often placed in unsafe environments. Prior to any person entering the water, safety considerations must be addressed to ensure no additional loss of life occurs during the search. On top of diving in unknown and dangerous waters, these divers have limited oxygen tanks and search times.  Given these circumstances, often Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) can be used prior to sending a diver or in tandem to monitor the safety of the diver.


A Chilling Search


ROVs for Search and Rescue

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This was the case for Cold Water Divers, a Canadian company, based out of the province of British Columbia. Utilizing two Deep Trekker ROVs, the SAR team conducted a frigid search mission for a missing person in temperatures as low as -15 degrees Fahrenheit (-26 celsius). Over their seven-day mission, the team would drill a hole through twelve-inch thick ice and navigate the underwater drones within a specified search radius.

Read More: Cold Water Divers Inc. use Deep Trekker ROVs to Locate Missing Son and Provide Closure for Father and Family

Deep Trekker was also a part of the search team that had the unsettling task of locating a missing five-year-old boy who fell into an icy river. The ROV was lowered into areas that were unreachable and were deemed unsafe for divers to enter.  

“We’re trying to give a little bit of peace of mind to the family, searching in places where the divers can’t.” - Sam MacDonald, President, Deep Trekker
Read More: Robot resumes Nith River search for boy in New Hamburg

Why Use Deep Trekker ROVs in SAR?

The answer is simple - they provide additional safety and are portable, robust, and easy to use. With no topside power required, the operator can have eyes below the surface of the water in under 30 seconds. The ROVs feature an onboard camera that captures and streams video back to the surface in real-time. Additionally, units can be equipped with sonar and USBL positioning systems to provide an even clearer picture below the surface. 

Not All SAR Missions Are Grim

Equipped with the Two Function Grabber, Deep Trekker’s DTG3 Expert ROV can be used by police departments to quickly retrieve discarded weapons and other evidence at the bottom of a lake. When a tragedy strike, will your Search and Rescue team be equipped with the right tool? Contact us today to help.   

Related Articles:

Improve Search and Recovery with ROVs Search & Rescue: A Look At Canadian Operations DTG3 Expert Retrieves Evidence Sub-Ice Search and Rescue with Mini-ROVs

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