A dive in­ci­dent’s psy­cho­log­i­cal af­ter­math

Scuba Diver Australasia - - Research, Education & Medicine - By


The diver was a 48-year-old male with four years of div­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and 10 dives in the pre­vi­ous month. His med­i­cal his­tory in­cluded hy­per­ten­sion and gas­troe­sophageal re­flux dis­ease (GERD), which were con­trolled by med­i­ca­tions. He used a pre­scrip­tion sleep­ing pill as needed.


The diver was on a trip to a pop­u­lar Hawaiian is­land. About 10 min­utes into his first dive he had a reg­u­la­tor fail­ure in which his mouth­piece came apart from his sec­ond stage. He thought the sec­ond stage was still in his mouth – though only the mouth­piece re­mained – so when he re­alised he couldn’t breathe he as­sumed the first stage had mal­func­tioned. He had just fin­ished ex­hal­ing and was ready to take an­other breath. He be­gan to panic be­cause he did not think any­one was close enough to share air with him, and he found him­self fight­ing the temp­ta­tion to in­hale wa­ter. He was with­out air for about 25 sec­onds be­fore he re­mem­bered he had a spare air cylin­der. He took two or three breaths from it be­fore he was able to reach his buddy’s spare sec­ond stage.

The diver had just had his reg­u­la­tor ser­viced, and this was his first dive with it since then. He was for­tu­nate to have pur­chased the spare air a year ear­lier; things could have been much worse. He was an emer­gency-room physi­cian and knew the con­se­quences of be­ing un­pre­pared.


The diver was “shell-shocked af­ter the event and since the event” as he dealt with the af­ter­ef­fects. He had trou­ble sleep­ing due to night­mares and had flash­backs of run­ning out of air.


The diver ex­pe­ri­enced a fairly mi­nor equip­ment fail­ure in the un­ex­pected sep­a­ra­tion of his mouth­piece from his sec­ond stage. The reg­u­la­tor had a pro­pri­etary mouth­piece clamp with a cam latch, and upon reflection he sup­posed the clamp was not re­placed af­ter the

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