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Law enforcement and fire rescue teams from four different states recently participated in a two-day Humminbird sonar training seminar in Fort. Collins, Colorado. The event was co-sponsored by Dive Rescue International and Black Laser Learning, Inc.

One of the most difficult tasks for Humminbird® sonar operators is being able to identify a drowning victim. While the class attendees had a good understanding of how the Humminbird sonar works, this training helped them hone in on specific areas of knowledge and skills that are necessary to effectively operate the system and correctly interpret bottom imagery. 

The course was taught from the perspective of the sonar operator, rather than from the manufacturer's equipment point of view.

Day 1: In the classroom

During Day 1, participants were given a refresher on basic sonar imaging terminology and then dived deep on how to correctly analyze sonar imagery. This was done by using a variety of media formats, including video, slides and animation, which were highly effective in explaining operational concepts.

Three different models of Humminbird sonar were used during instruction, and each team was exposed to the different systems both in the classroom and on the water. These included the Humminbird 1198, the Humminbird® Helix 10 and the Humminbird ONIX 10.

Day 2: Field training on the water

Day 2 of the training took place on the Horsetooth Reservoir where each team, in turn, was given the chance to work with the different Humminbird sonar models to search for, find and interpret targets. Several of the groups had brought their own vessels to the training.

A drowning victim mannequin and a metal dog kennel were used as the main targets. Teams worked in 25 feet of water and also experimented at 80 feet with the Humminbird systems. They were taught how to get the best image on each system. Additionally, participants also learned how different frequencies work on different targets.

"Even the older H1198 provided excellent bottom imagery but the back lighting on the new Helix 10 Humminbird sonar made images easier to see," said Vince Capone, Black Laser Learning®'s lead instructor. "The touch screen of the ONIX 10 was very user-friendly."

The April 2016 seminar had a full roster of trainees. "We had to turn away requests for additional participants so we could give personalized instruction for each student to try the different systems," said Capone. "We would like to thank our co-sponsor Dive Rescue International for their efforts in supporting this important marine sonar training, and our participating teams for their time, attention and obvious enthusiasm for their work."

"The technical information presented by Vince Capone was delivered in an easy-to-understand format and helped our team better understand sonar operations and sonar interpretation. Vince was extremely knowledgeable on all kinds of sonar and I recommend taking this class if you have any questions about these types of operations."
Eric Ruettinger, Colorado Springs Fire Dept. - Heavy Rescue

Particpant groups included:

Benton County Dive Rescue Team (Arkansas)
Colorado Springs Fire Department (Colorado)
South Metro Fire Rescue (Colorado)
Torrington Volunteer Fire Department (Wyoming)
Williams County Sheriff's Office (North Dakota)






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