MONTEREY COUNTY — The County of Monterey Parks Department and Sheriff’s Office have received a lifesaving gift — handheld sonar devices and training to assist in water rescues.
The devices, called AquaEye, have advanced technology, using sonar and artificial intelligence. The donation of these devices was made May 16 during the Monterey County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Acquired by Clinica de Salud del Valle de Salinas, the devices are being donated to the County for the Sheriff’s Office, which has active Dive and Search and Rescue Teams, and the Parks Department, whose Rangers do surface patrols and emergency response at county lakes, including San Antonio and Nacimiento in southern Monterey County.
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is also receiving a device, as it partners with county agencies during emergencies at the lakes.
Max Cuevas, Clinica’s CEO, made the donation announcement, saying the gift fits the organization’s mission to provide comprehensive health care services to all people.
“Saving lives through search and rescue is not within our scope, but certainly it’s a matter of health,” Cuevas said. “Recovering a loved one who has drowned is a most difficult time and process for anyone. This device can reduce the time for recovery from day and hours to minutes.”
Supervisor Chris Lopez, whose district includes both county lakes and many miles of the Salinas River, thanked Cuevas and his team for this contribution, calling it “forward looking,” thinking ahead to what happens in those moments of crisis.
“We want to make sure that as we think about the lakes, as we think about the Salinas River, where we unfortunately did have a loss last year, that we have these tools well deployed throughout the county to respond,” Lopez said.
The devices are expected to be available for use in a few weeks.
“Water rescue is hard, and especially difficult in water that isn’t clear,” explained Carlyn Loncaric, CEO and founder of VodaSafe, the company that makes AquaEye. “The County of Monterey has invested in their water rescue capabilities to help avoid tragedies. By having AquaEye on their team, they will be able to more quickly locate missing people and save lives.”