New equipment could speed up water search and rescue - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

New equipment could speed up water search and rescue


The Noonday Fire Department has some new equipment they said will improve their search and rescue efforts on the water.

The Smith County Alert Dive Team boat is now housed at the Noonday Fire Department along with brand new diving equipment.

Firefighters said the department had a few people who were qualified to dive, but they did not have the equipment until about two months ago.

Jonathan McClish is Noonday's Assistant Fire Chief and said the department has eight firefighters who are ready to go and several more in training.

 Darl Whiteaker said he is in his first class of dive.

"We're here for the people. We've had several incidents out here on Lake Palestine as well as local areas and it's going to be nice that we don't have to rely on our local dive teams. We've had their support and their backup, it's just that we can be in the water first and have some entail before we have to call for help," Whiteaker explained.

He believes this equipment could have been a game changer in previous water rescues.

"Back then, we would have been able to get in the water instantly rather than having to wait several hours to get Longview out here as well as getting DPS out here, as well as the Game Wardens office. We would have been able to start a search instantly," Whiteaker said.

The department also has a search and rescue boat, which now has a new engine and sonar.

McClish said the new engine was funded by the Emergency Services District. Firefighters said the money from their old engine paid for the sonar.

"It's going to allow us to pinpoint a certain location rather than just search a broad area," Whiteaker explained.

McClish said the new equipment changes everything.

"Oh yes, 100 percent," he said.

McClish said his department is ready for that next call.

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