The benefits of diving with nitrox have long been known, but have they been applied to public safety diving (PSD)? We don’t think they have. A quick look at some of the benefits:
- Reduced nitrogen uptake
- Increased safety margins (when dove on air profiles)
- Increased bottom times
Still, when considering diving with nitrox, it is important to look at some of the factors that predispose divers to decompression sickness (DCS): age, health, workload, etc. From this one could quickly draw the conclusion that Public Safety divers should be using nitrox.
There is no denying that PS divers face some of the most strenuous dives, far more physical than most sport divers. Public Safety divers are both physically and mentally stressed and are focused solely on the mission at hand. Their dive is quite the opposite from a recreational scuba diver in that they cannot surface when it’s not fun anymore. Before this starts sounding too fluffy, let’s look at some of the Pros and Cons.
Some downsides (not really) of Public Safety Divers utilizing nitrox as their breathing gas for recovery diving are:
- Additional training
- Additional cost
- Additional equipment
- Added logistics to dive planning
Just like any other discussion about PS diving, they all revolve around costs and budgets, so it’s easy to see why someone would not want nitrox for fear it would increase their budget. The reality is it would not add that much to the budget. Nitrox training is minimal and producing nitrox can be accomplished using an O2 cylinder and a compressor (training would be required for the mixing of nitrox). Furthermore, the equipment you are currently using does not need to be changed. As for the logistics of dive planning, again this does not present a problem. As a matter of fact, it may even make it easier, given the safety margins using nitrox builds in. Most PS divers don’t operate below 30 M / 100 feet and a 32% fill is ideal for this depth range. For those that do, you are already beyond considering nitrox as a breathing gas and know the benefits.
Now the upside, and yes it far outweighs the downsides:
- Increased safety
Safety – do there need to be any other points? The end goal for all scuba diving activities is the safety of the diver(s) and anything that can be done to achieve that goal should not be overlooked. Every year we get a little older and a bit more out-of-shape; that’s just life, there’s no avoiding it or putting it on hold. Nitrox helps with unavoidable factors and to reduce the risks of DCS associated with those factors.
So unless you or your team has discovered the fountain of youth and each of you have the perfect BMI, you need to take every precaution you can to increase a positive outcome for your in-service and training dives. Nitrox is another tool to be considered and used, just like full-face masks, drysuits and communication systems.
Want to speak with one of our PSD Instructors and learn more about nitrox for your team? Come visit us at one of our upcoming events:
|Aug 10, 2012
|Sept 7, 2012
|Sept 21, 2012
|Oct 19, 2012
|Nov 2, 2012
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