Recovery tools, equipment aiding in recent rise in area’s drowning recoveries

In the past month, First Responders have been called to four drownings. Recovery tools and equipment is helping in the action of recovery.

BLACK HILLS, S.D. — In the past month, first responders have been called to four drownings in the region.

During this time, they’ve utilized multiple recovery tools.

On Tuesday, a rescue vehicle – the Scherp ATV – was employed  to find a man who had drowned in Rapid City’s Memorial Park Pond.

Its capabilities in shorter water levels made it a key piece of the recovery.

“The Scherp will operate on water but it has a bit more usefulness in more shallow water operations, where we’re dealing with shorelines and that type of thing,” said Brian Mueller, a Chief Deputy with the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office.

On Thursday, agencies in the region incorporated more tools to recover the body of a drowning victim in Pactola Reservoir.

Due to the nature of where his body was believed to be – it called for a more extensive recovery.

“We were looking at a pretty dangerous recovery operation,” Mueller said.

The body was in deeper waters and when many agencies were needed, they responded. Agencies like South Dakota Game Fish & Parks brought in their Tow Fish technology which uses sonar mechanics to find objects at extreme depths.

Another resource – a remote operated vehicle – dubbed the “Fisher Finder” – was utilized.

“Anytime we get a major incident like this, people come together with whatever resources they have and are willing to pitch in and put the work in to do what needs to be done and that was no different yesterday on Pactola,” Mueller said.

The water depth and changes in pressure put divers in a race against time.

“With that depth and time to go into those environments, it really limits how much time you spend in each phase of that dive,” said Keith Trojanowski, the Station 3 Captain for the Rapid City Fire Department. “In this case, I think they would have one to I think a max of one to six minutes.”

This collaboration among resources made for a safe, effective recovery – which can take weeks – even years according to Mueller.

“To be able to find somebody in 130 feet of water, utilize all of the resources together and recovery that person in the same day, it’s really a testament to the dedicated people that we have working in this area,” Mueller said.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News