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Howard County's Newest Equipment Will Aid In Life-Saving Water Rescues

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ)-- The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services debuted two new state-of-the-art resources at their disposal this summer to help save people and animals during emergency water rescue responses.

With summer just around the corner HCDFRS says they will see in water-related emergency responses.

To help crews effectively respond to water-related emergency incidents crews will now be able to use a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) underwater HD camera and a side-scan sonar detecting rescue boat.

"We want to stress that residents always use caution when enjoying the water this season," said County Executive Allan H. Kittleman. "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are roughly 3,000 drownings nationally each year, and one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. This new equipment can play a critical role in emergencies, but first and foremost, we encourage everyone to practice safety and supervise children around any body of water."

"Before we had mounted sonars on our boats, The methods were much more difficult," said firefighter Andrew Froom.

Officials say they respond to approximately 25 calls each year ranging from a driver being stranded in flash floods to drownings.

"Few tasks are as difficult for an incident commander as deciding what to do when we respond to a surface water rescue incident that turns into an underwater search and recovery," said Fire Chief John S. Butler. "In a situation where every second counts, this new equipment saves us time and resources. We are able to quickly locate the victim and perform a rescue."

The ROV has multiple uses such as victim rescue and recovery, to law enforcement investigations, to hazmat detection, and even damage assessments and inspections of bridges and dams.

"We no longer have to send a diver down into the water unless for some reason it's absolutely necessary," said firefighter Gamaliel Baer.

This ROV unit also has a claw device that could be used to grab victims when located.

Crews spent hundreds of hours in training ahead of the launch of the ROV.

If you are going to spend time in the water official say: Keep close eye on children in the water, swim in groups & wear a life jacket!

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