Alert Diver Whose Fault is it Re­ally?

Asian Diver (English) - - Contents - By DAN Asia-Pa­cific

The In­ci­dent: A rel­a­tively in­ex­pe­ri­enced diver, armed with only an Open Wa­ter cer­ti­fi­ca­tion that equipped him with a ba­sic knowl­edge of skills and equip­ment (for div­ing to a rec­om­mended depth of 18 me­tres), de­cided to book him­self on a wreck dive to 30 me­tres at a site known to have a strong cur­rent.

When mak­ing the book­ing, the diver ex­pressed his lack of ex­pe­ri­ence and ap­pre­hen­sion about un­der­tak­ing the dive, but the shop staff still booked him in for the dive.

The dive crew pro­vided a dive brief, in­clud­ing depths and cur­rents, and ad­vice that the vis­i­bil­ity may be poor. The diver was not as­signed a buddy but was told to stay with the group.

This con­cerned him but he fol­lowed along with the oth­ers. Div­ing with­out a buddy was con­sid­ered nor­mal as the di­ve­mas­ter was usu­ally able to keep small groups to­gether.

As ad­vised, vis­i­bil­ity on the bot­tom was poor. The group ended up sep­a­rated and the diver was left alone. Un­able to lo­cate the other divers, he pan­icked and made a rapid as­cent to the sur­face where he lost con­scious­ness and had to be re­trieved from the wa­ter by the boat’s skip­per.

As a re­sult of the rapid as­cent, he suf­fered a gas em­bolism and was lucky to sur­vive.


Is it the dive crew who failed to pro­vide buddy teams and lost con­tact with the diver? Is it the dive shop staff who al­lowed this in­ex­pe­ri­enced diver to book a dive he wasn’t qual­i­fied to do? Or is it the diver, who knew bet­ter than any­one that he was not pre­pared to un­der­take this dive?

While ev­ery­one plays a part in this sce­nario, the diver needs to take sub­stan­tial re­spon­si­bil­ity as he is ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for him­self. Firstly, he signed up for a dive de­spite his ap­pre­hen­sion, even though he knew it ex­ceeded his ex­pe­ri­ence and train­ing. He then went along with the plan to dive with­out an as­signed buddy, de­spite not be­ing com­fort­able with this, and know­ing from his train­ing that it wasn’t right. At any time, the diver could have, and should have, aborted but he didn’t. How­ever, in his de­fence, it is dif­fi­cult for an in­ex­pe­ri­enced diver to judge what the de­mands of the dive may be.

Of course, the shop staff and the dive team also con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cantly. The shop staff should have ques­tioned the diver fur­ther. Know­ing the con­di­tions didn’t match the diver’s train­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence, they should have signed him up to a more suit­able dive. Fur­ther­more, the dive crew should have re­assessed his suit­abil­ity for the dive. They should also have as­signed buddy pairs, par­tic­u­larly in poor vis­i­bil­ity.

Un­for­tu­nately, this sce­nario is not an un­com­mon story. I have pre­vi­ously writ­ten about know­ing when to call a dive, yet divers con­tinue to push their lim­its.

Bot­tom line: If you are not fully pre­pared for the dive, both men­tally and phys­i­cally, or you are not qual­i­fied or ex­pe­ri­enced to do the dive, abort. There is no shame in call­ing off a dive. It is cer­tainly not worth in­jur­ing your­self, or worse, to com­plete a dive.

Dive safely, Scott Jamieson, Gen­eral Man­ager DAN Asia-Pa­cific

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