Pool Cameras Detect Drowning

SOLON, Ohio (AP) - Two pools in northeast Ohio will be equipped with a drowning-detection system that uses cameras to set off pagers if there is no motion in the water for 10 seconds.

The Poseidon system, including five underwater and eight overhead digital cameras, is being installed in the competitive pool in Medina's new recreation center and Solon's indoor pool at its new community center.

"Besides the value of saving lives, it is a great opportunity to evaluate our guards," said Kenn Kaminski, the city's recreation director. "We've gotten calls from all over the state and outside the state about it."

The system's cost ranges from $75,000 to $150,000, said Gregory Brakel, U.S. operations engineer for Poseidon Technologies in Atlanta. The price increases if an older pool has to be retrofitted.

The company, which originated in France, has been promoting the system for about three years at U.S. trade shows. Medina is paying $82,000 because it is being used as a pilot site.

Medina's pool is scheduled to open at the end of September.

Solon's new pool will open next summer, and the Poseidon system will cost about $115,000 there.

Each Poseidon camera scans a portion of the pool and computers analyze the images. Underwater cameras are used at depths of 6 feet or more. The pager indicates what section of the pool is affected.

Drownings led to the system's installation in four school pools in St. Cloud, Minn., last October and in an indoor community pool in Fort Wayne, Ind., in December. Officials in both communities said Poseidon has worked.

"It is awesome and a neat tool for us," said Liz Kaywood, aquatics director at the Fort Wayne natatorium. "Fortunately, we have never had to use it, and it is a total backup to our lifeguards."

Brakel said the system is being installed at YMCAs in Sarasota, Fla., and Naperville, Ill. It is being considered in Chicago, northern Virginia and Atlanta.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)