Pelham YMCA gets drowning detection device

PELHAM, AL (WBRC) - Every day dozens of swimmers find there way to the Pelham YMCA pool.  Now, swimming will be safer, thanks to a new drowning detection device unveiled Thursday, called Poseidon.

The system uses cameras with ultraviolet lights and an infrared system to scan the length of the pool every three seconds.  The cameras are connected with software that has the ability to detect when a person has been motionless under water for ten seconds.  Once that happens, an alarm sounds, and an L-E-D display tells lifeguards exactly where to find the person in the pool.

Usually a rescue takes between 32 to 34 seconds, much quicker than a lifeguard could do so.  "By the time they recognize a problem, it's usually one minute and nine seconds," said Randy Hitchens, the President and CEO of Motronics, the company that makes Poseidon.  "And to somebody in distress [one minute and nine seconds] is a very long time."

Jim Lombard, CEO of the Birmingham area YMCAs, says the Pelham location is the first to be equipped with Poseidon.  He says installing the new equipment and getting it ready to work takes about 6 months.  He says the YMCA center downtown will be fitted next and be ready to go by next summer.  Lombard says eventually all area Y's will be equipped with the system.

That will make Birmingham the second largest Poseidon project in the world.  Atlanta is the first.  Lombard says the system costs about 100-thosuand dollars to implement.  But he says it's worth it if it saves even one life.