Atlantic Beach Firefighters Get Sonar Equipment To Help In Water Searches

If a person drowns off our Crystal Coast, family members sometimes have to wait days for divers to find their loved one's body. Now some local firefighters have a new tool that will help bring closure sooner.

Atlantic Beach firefighters are training on sonar equipment that can help them find bodies in the water and maybe even save a life.

Atlantic Beach firefighter Michael Simpson says, "If we can get our personnel trained adequately and get the resources in the right areas at the right time, we can easily turn what would normally be recovery effort into a rescue effort as well."

Garrett Thach is teaching the department how the sonar draws a map of the bottom of the sea floor--and shows where a body could be.

Simpson says, "Before we had this capability, we were essentially looking at a point last seen from bystanders or witnesses. With this we can get a little closer, narrow things down."

Once they find the spot where the body is they can send a diver down just a few feet away, making the process of finding the body easier and faster.

Firefighters are going out one group at a time to learn how to use the equipment. It takes about 2 days to learn the basics, and then they can start practicing for the real thing.