Each year there are divers who jump in the water feeling just fine and the next day you might find their obituary in the paper. Now does that not just make diving sound like a fun endeavor? this is caused by a plethora of reasons. Diving beyond one’s training makes for flashy headlines and great topic discussions for some online forums and social media. An individual having an equipment malfunction will certainly bring the “best” service technicians out of the basement to give not only their two cents, but everything they have to prove they are the smartest. However, year after year, simple drowning appears to be the number one official cause of death or harmful event attributed to diving. While this sounds like it makes a lot of sense, drowning is also the explanation given when there seems to be no other logical explanation, or an overall lack of information. The number two cause appears to be heart disease or cardiac event. This information can be found on the Divers Alert Network (DAN) 2016 Annual Diving Report:
America has become perhaps the most obese country in the world. Why are we all so fat? The reasons are numerous depending on what group of people you are asking. My personal belief is that we have simply become a sedentary population combined with poor food choices. So what is the big deal about it? Yes we could all lose ten to 100 lbs and be far better off for it, but who cares? If you have the money and time to go diving, you should be able to dive anywhere you want right? I signed the waiver, I have the proper cert card that I successfully paid for, and so who are you to tell me that I cannot make this dive? While America has become one of the fattest and most out of shape countries in the world, we have also become the most litigious.
When we become professionals in this industry, we are all told point blank that we will probably be sued at some point for something. As a young Dive master, I had the naive thought that if someone signed the waiver, then surely you would be good to go in court if they did sue you.
Pause for laughter
As it turns out, if someone dies in the water during a course, guided dive,or maybe you were just in the same ocean at the same time they were when they had an incident; you will likely be getting a call or letter with some bad news. Much like the TSA does to me each and every single time I try and get on a plane (Must be my beard and ravishing good looks making them jealous):” you have been randomly selected for additional screening” which leads to you being found in possession of a Pro level cert card- which leads to you calling your insurance company – which leads to them denying you exist – which leads to you getting very confused – which leads to you losing everything you own – which leads to you drinking heavily and making poor decisions. All of this because some other person, who knew what they were up against in the water decided that they were going to have a heart attack and die while you were working with them in some way. Never mind the fact that the dead or injured diver weighed 350lbs, already had a history of heart disease and crammed 4 Big Macs down their throat ten minutes before getting on the boat.. As long as they went to the drive through doctor and got a medical sign off, then it should all be good right?
Try and use Google for something fun.
Type in something like “Family sues dive operation for death” and you will see case after case of people who died resulting in a big lawsuit against anyone and everyone. The truth of the matter is that horribly out of shape individuals are a default liability. I can tell you exactly what question is going to be asked of you when something does happen. It will be something along the lines of, “Mr. Norris, did you ever stop to think that allowing this individual to go on this dive might be a bad idea due to their health conditions?” Then your reply will be something like, “No not really, the diver had the right credentials and filled out all of the proper paperwork. He / she very obviously understood the risks involved prior to getting in the water.” This will be met with, “As a professional diver though, is it not your responsibility and within your training to recognize potential problems and solve them so that scenarios just like this are prevented?” Then what???? What exactly do you answer that with?
That discussion could go on and on forever.
Ultimately though, the insurance companies would likely do what they always do and pay everyone off to make the whole thing just go away. Then the following June, we can all get together and complain about the horrible amount of money we have to pay for dive insurance. This is a vicious cycle that will likely not end anytime soon. In the meantime, why don’t we all take a look at ourselves in the mirror, realize that our stomachs stick out further than it should, take into consideration that our health could actually impact someones life other than our own, and put the fast food bag down for once. Think of it this way… If you have a heart attack behind the wheel of a car resulting in someone else getting hurt, many consider it just to be bad luck. Why is diving so very different? Bad things happen to good people. Fat and out of shape folks can be good people. Bad things like cardiac events tend to happen to fat and out of shape people a bit more.
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