United Hatzalah tests sonar device to locate drowning victims

Successful testing of new sonar device capable of scanning Kinneret floor while looking for drown victims or missing at sea.

Mordechai Sones,

Salty Mec II: United Hatzalah sonar ambuboat
Salty Mec II: United Hatzalah sonar ambuboat
United Hatzalah

United Hatzalah Monday completed successful testing of a new sonar device that is now fully operational aboard its ambuboat, Salty Mec II. The boat is the newest addition to its fleet of water rescue vehicles on the Kinneret in Israel’s north. The test was conducted together with the Israeli Police Maritime Unit. The test culminated a lengthy trial period during which the device’s capabilities were tested in numerous scenarios by the organization’s volunteers from Tiberias and divers from the Police unit.

The ambuboat is the first fully operational water ambulance with sonar capable of scanning the Kinneret floor while looking for drown victims or people who have gone missing at sea. The sonar was specifically outfitted to comply with search and rescue operations needs and will prevent multiple unnecessary dives in search of people missing on the lake. Such multiple dives would take much time during which rescuers were not reaching the victims and at times became life-threatening when conducted in stormy weather.

During Monday's final testing drill, a life-sized mannequin was sunk to the Kinneret seabed and found quickly by the ambuboat’s sonar. The diving team headed over in the boat and was able to quickly remove the doll from the waters culminating in a successful test.

Sonar imagery from Kinneret test
United Hatzalah

United Hatzalah Tiberias region chapter head Yossi Vaknin summed up the testing phase by saying: “We've been operating rescue boats and jet skis for a number of years on the Kinneret during swimming season in an effort to aid swimmers who are drawn out to the middle of the lake by the strong undertow and cannot get back to shore. Over the past few years, our team of volunteers has rescued hundreds of people from drowning on the lake. However, in many instances of drowning that have occurred, we've been forced to rely solely on the Northern Diving Unit to search for those who have gone missing or drowned on the Kinneret. These searches often take days. Now we can make that process much shorter and far more effective. This will allow us to reach victims faster and hopefully save more lives.”

Vaknin continued: “United Hatzalah has answered the call and supplied a vehicle that will answer the urgent need that developed over the previous years. The ambuboat is a highly advanced water ambulance that includes the newly tested state-of-the-art sonar. During today’s test, we threw the mannequin into the water and waited for it to sink. Once it was on the seafloor we activated the sonar and in a very short time, the device gave an exact location and teams were able to arrive and bring it back to the surface in a very short time. The new device will be ready for the upcoming swimming season and it's our hope that we'll only need it for drills and thus be able to prevent any further tragedy from occurring on the lake.”

Sonar imagery equipment
United Hatzalah



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