ROVs Improving Search and Recovery
There are a number of industries such as Aquaculture, Commercial Diving and Environmental Science that use remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) on a daily basis to inspect their underwater infrastructure and/or perform the tasks necessary for operation. Alternatively, there are industries such as police forces and first responders who require the use of ROVs when a tragedy occurs or when evidence ends up underwater. Although these instances may not happen everyday, ROVs are still extremely beneficial to a search and rescue team.
Searching for evidence and lost souls are just a couple of tasks among many that police forces are required to carry out; and many larger municipal governments have marine units that include both ROVs and divers for these purposes. While they may not be used as frequently, due to the serious nature of search and rescue operations, having an ROV and dive team available is very important. The majority of counties, cities and towns across the globe have some form of water, leaving the potential for drowning, evidence stashing and drug smuggling a reality.
Despite the rare occurrence of these incidents, not having an option to help in these scenarios makes them more likely to occur. If law breakers know that police units have no way of recovering evidence from the water, then the chances of illegal activity taking place underwater is increased. Having dive teams or ROVs at the ready are as much of a prevention technique as they are a response tool.
The challenges of using divers for Search and Recovery Missions include time restrictions, deployment requirements of a minimum of three people (two to supervise the diver) and the costs.
The short deployment time can slow an entire mission down. Many Search and Recovery missions take hours or days to complete, but in some situations, such as extreme cold or heat, divers can only remain underwater for 30 minutes to an hour before having to take an extended break.
Dive teams are more than just the men and women in the water - they also require multiple dive supervisors, especially in HAZMAT or deeper water scenarios. For smaller municipalities, this may mean a significant portion of the law enforcement, or the need for volunteers.
The cost is the biggest consideration for the divers. The equipment is expensive but the insurance is more. Insuring a single diver for a year usually sits around $25,000 due to the associated risks that come with their job. Many regions rely on volunteers for search missions. There is no reason to risk a person's life if alternatives are available, especially if they are not being compensated for their efforts.
ROVs offer a safer and faster response, and often more cost effective solution. With an ROV, the search team has the ability to remain in the water longer and allows for missions to be completed faster.
Want to learn more about how you can use an ROV for searchn and recovery? We recently held a Search and Rescue demonstration day to teach our local officers how to best use their Deep Trekker ROVs. Watch the recap video:
How would you build a Search and Rescue Response unit with a limited budget? Comment below!