VideoRay Trains 15 Agencies in New York Harbor on Search and Rescue with Underwater Robot

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Bear Search & Rescue Foundation Showcases VideoRay to Bring Awareness of New Tools

On May 22, 23, 2004, VideoRay LLC supported the Bear Search and Rescue Foundation's Marine Training event in New York City, showing local agencies how the VideoRay underwater robot can be used to in search and rescue missions. Fifteen Police, Fire, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Sea Scouts, Rescue, and EMS teams had the opportunity to pilot the new VideoRay Pro III and learn from officers from St. Louis County, Minnesota, who used the underwater robot to locate the body of a drowned snowmobile driver this past winter.

On day one of the event, attendees test-drove the VideoRay, equipped with a SeaSprite scanning sonar system that allowed operators to locate targets and then navigate closer to observe through the robot’s video eye. Also shown was VideoRay's new PC control software, which allows the VideoRay to be piloted using standard gaming controllers like those found on popular video game systems.

“Attendees were impressed with the size, speed, maneuverability and video quality of the VideoRay,” says Scott Bentley, president of VideoRay. “But more importantly, they understood how the tiny robot could help bring closure to families who have lost loved ones underwater. Our contribution to humanity is providing a tool that not only helps locate those who are lost but that also prevents additional tragedies when divers are put at risk to recover a victim.”

On day two of the event, Undersheriff Dave Phillips and Rescue Squad member Lt. Tom Crossmon, of St. Louis County, Minnesota, delivered a presentation of their experience using VideoRay to locate the body of a drowned snowmobile driver in Ashland, Wisconsin. Before the victim was located with a VideoRay, divers had previously made 19 difficult dives in shifting ice. A diver spent less than one minute in the 37-degree water recovering the body, just five hours after the search with the VideoRay began.

Undersheriff Phillips reported that before authorities removed the body, and without disturbing the scene, a conclusive forensic investigation of the site was completed. By showing real pictures captured during searches, Undersheriff Phillips shared his practical experience and success with the VideoRay. He also provided guidance for acquiring this type of equipment through grants and offered tips on how to manage an ROV operations team, from staff selection and training to mobilizing for missions.

“We really enjoyed meeting attendees from the New York area,” says Undersheriff Phillips. “All public safety agencies have shared the same problems of how to conduct underwater recoveries safely, and it was great to show our VideoRay as a possible option for them. It was an honor to meet with agencies and people involved in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks. “

“The purpose of this interagency training was to make people familiar with new methods for search and rescue. Within one week of the event, we have learned of two instances where the VideoRay is being used to bring closure to families of victims in New York and Wisconsin,” says Captain Scott Shields, who hosted the event and whose world-famous dog Bear located the most victims at Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers. “Our goal is to get people trained in the use of the VideoRay so we can respond faster and better when a situation arises. We appreciate VideoRay’s generosity in coming to New York to bring a higher degree of awareness to the Tri-State area.”

Captain Scott Shields is looking for donations to the Bear Search and Rescue Foundation for the purchase of a VideoRay to support the search and rescue efforts of local agencies. Donations can be made through the foundation’s website at

The VideoRay ROV is an 8-pound underwater submersible equipped with a video camera. Operated by one person from land or boat, the submersible is attached to a tether and control box to navigate and document underwater conditions. VideoRays are in use worldwide for search and rescue and Homeland Security initiatives.

For comments, contact:

David Phillips, Undersheriff

St. Louis County Sheriff's Office

Duluth, MN

PH: 218-726-2339


Contact Captain Scott Shields of Bear Search and Rescue Foundation at ph: 732-713-6298

For photos of the event, visit

VideoRay LLC

400 Eagleview Blvd.

Exton, PA 19341 USA

Phone: (610) 458-3000

FAX: (610) 458-3010


All brands and product names are trademarks of their respective owners.

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Kayla Patenaude
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