CHARLOTTE, NC (WJZY) - The Charlotte Fire Department Rescue Dive Teams have been working double time this summer season. This year alone, they have been called out to 8 drownings while last year, they only responded to 12 calls.
"It is heartbreaking and extremely confusing as to why so many people and so many drownings are popping up,” said Kathleen Lee with the Charlotte Fire Department said.
The department works hard to get the job done every time.
Charlotte Fire Rescue 10, 3 and 38 specialize in rescue dives and have top notch sonar equipment that helps make their jobs safer and efficient, by being able to actually see what's at the bottom of the lake.
"It gives you an idea of what is under there. A lot of times a diver can't really see because of where you are diving," Captain Chad Michaels said.
Fire boat 38 has multiple sonars and radars that it depends on and they even have a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) to make sure they can see in inclement weather. This system helps them see through fog or rain so they can get to anybody on time.
On a call, Charlotte Fire Department will drop the first sonar system while the boat is moving. This one is used to search larger areas if a witness cannot give a specific location.
"Please pay attention to your surroundings, your landmarks. Anything that will help us get a precise location, so we are not searching for a needle in a haystack," Lee Said.
Once they have a specific search location, they throw a basket with a buoy to mark the area.
Then they deploy a second sonar system. This one gives divers a more accurate picture and anyone operating the system can also see diver’s movements underwater but some pictures aren’t as clear.
"We don't have a 100 percent certainty until we put the diver on the object. Because a couple of times I’ve been about 90 percent sure but it came up as a log," Lee said.
The Charlotte Fire divers won't give up until they finish the job.
"I try to treat each situation as if it was my family member down there. I get excited when we find them because I’ve done my job. I've done my job for my family. I've helped bring them closure," Lee said.