By Corey Dobridnia
Some of the members of the Joint Agency in Water Strike dive team are having their first session in using sonars for underwater detection.
"It basically gives sight to the blind in zero visibility water," said Darren DeDario.
DeDario with Florida State University's underwater crime scene investigation program is assisting in Tuesday's training.
"This is going to be some of these guys first hands on experience with this particular unit," said DeDario. "And after we get done training they will be able to check this equipment out from the Dive Locker and use it in real life situations."
Agencies like Bay County Sheriff's Office, Panama City Fire Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are all apart of the joint task force.
"Things are looking up for our dive team," said Nice Price, a Law Enforcement Officer with FWC. He is also participating in the training.
"This is a great tool to use in low or no visibility environments for looking for objects," said Price. "Evidence, bodies, things of that sort. Things we wouldn't normally be able to see with the naked eye."
And the pool at the Aquatic Center at Frank Borwn acts as a perfect place to practice. Whether it's a crystal clear pool or no visibility water the sonar equipment operates on acoustic signals; so every object will look the same no matter what the scenario.
"It also saves time,' said Price. "Instead of doing pattern searches this thing allows us to see underwater and pinpoint what we are doing a lot faster." So objects can be picked up, and their shadows viewed, right through the eye piece in no time.
"A lot of what we dive is zero visibility and this can give you the ability to see up to about 130 foot away from you depending on what your looking for," said Jerome Fleeman of the Panama City Fire Department. Fleeman is also an instructor and at the forefront of the JAWS team. He says the training, equipment and experience is all proven to work.
"We had the body recovery of that oysterman out in Apalachicola," said Fleeman. "We actually dove the surrounding area and we were able to verify that he wasn't there. "We were able to move the search location to where the body was actually found."
Wednesday, the dive team will be at St. Andrews State Park completing this portion of the their training in full dive gear.
Original Article: http://www.wmbb.com/story/22971694/jaws-dive-team-trains-at-pier-park