SeaBotix Inc. of San Diego, California in cooperation with industry leading companies Tritech International, BluePrint Design Engineering and Marine Simulation have developed the first specially designed, rapid response underwater rescue system called SARbot.
Until now remote operated technology has been used to recover drowning victims, not rescue. Improved medical studies have shown that a person experiencing near drowning in water up to 21ºC has the potential for rescue. If the victim can be rescued from the water within approximately 90 minutes there is a good chance that the residual oxygen in their body will keep them alive without permanent damage to their vital organs.
The problem has been locating and rescuing the victim in difficult conditions without furthering human risk. SeaBotix Inc. was approached by Derbyshire Fire & Rescue in the United Kingdom to develop a solution to the more than 700 drownings per year. The UK Fire & Rescue has the ability to be on location in response to an emergency in under 10 minutes, however, they are unable to work below the water.
SeaBotix worked closely with the Derbyshire Fire & Rescue to develop a new ROV rescue system that would operate in near zero visibility, in poor weather and strong currents, while being simple enough to operate by rescue personnel. The result is a modified LBV system with high definition Tritech Gemini imaging sonar, limb grasping manipulator, video enhancement and a small diameter, low drag tether with a 100kg working load. In addition, the advanced ROV system includes a new high resolution side scan sonar from BluePrint Design Engineering and a purpose built LBV training simulator by Marine Simulation.
The total package offers rescue teams with large-area search capability and built-in training in a rapid-response rescue ROV. In field trials with the Derbyshire Fire & Rescue proved the ROV system can be setup and deployed in less than 3 minutes providing rescue personnel with time to locate the victim. The system was simplified to reduce technical aspects found in ROV systems requiring care or attention. This allows for rescue personnel to focus on rescue and not setup.
A typical scenario is one where a person has consumed alcohol late at night and decides the nearby water looks inviting. Upon entering the water the person is shocked by the coldness and inhales water. This process leads to filling of the lungs and drowning. Upon receiving a call, rescue personnel can set up and deploy at the last seen location of the drowning victim. Utilizing the Gemini imaging sonar, the drowning victim is located and the rLBV is navigated to within grasping range. For conditions where visibility is near zero, external ultra bright LED lights and video enhancement are utilized. Upon locating the victim, the specially designed grasping jaws attach to an arm or leg and the rLBV is pulled back to the shore using it's ultra strong tether. Once the rescued victim is rescovered to shore, the medical technicians can prepare for transport to a local hospital and ultimate revival.
The SARbot is an exciting new technology with tremendous potential for saving lives around the world. The patented and feature patent pending system is unlike anything currently available on the market.