Share the Air!

by Jordan Greene:
sdi diver sharing airAt one time or another, we have all been in the situation of being one of these two – the borrower or the lender.

“Hey pal, mind if I borrow your car?” Or the famous, “Could you lend me some money?”

Most prefer not to be on either side of this scenario, but especially the lender! These phrases, amongst friends, can bring that unsettling feeling we all know too well. Now, by all means, I enjoy helping a friend or even a stranger, but lending out something without certainty of it being returned (or returned in one piece) is always in the back of one’s mind. As for being the other, no one likes the feeling of being in need or having to ask to borrow something.

In the world of scuba diving, these terms are more welcome. These expressions are not only widely accepted, but encouraged, practiced and prepared for (regardless of diver level or course).

“Hey buddy, can I borrow some air?”

During your open water course, when learning basic scuba diving equipment and configuration, a standard piece of equipment is the typically brightly colored secondary regulator (alternate air source, octopus, safe second, back-up regulator, etc). This essential piece of equipment does not only act as a back up to your primary in the event your primary malfunctions, but also as a redundant source of gas for your dive buddy or fellow boat diver. It is not nearly enough to just carry this piece of equipment with you for peace of mind, you must utilize it and be well versed in being the donor and receiver. Beginning with your SDI Open Water Course, and continuing all the way through TDI’s assortment of tech courses, you will find buddy breathing a very common skill that is practiced. Forming a habitual ritual of starting every descent of a dive with a simple donor/receiver drill will strengthen your subconscious competency to loan out an air source without having to think about it, becoming practically instinctual. All levels of divers should become comfortable and capable with calmly removing an air source from his or her mouth and lending it to their buddy, and vice versa. The old adage “practice makes perfect” could not be more true, perform this skill every opportunity you have to dive. Now, I know in our own minds, we are all the greatest divers to have ever graced the waters with our presence; there is no need to practice such a simple skill so extensively. After all, it isn’t shooting an SMB (surface marker buoy) or navigating through low visibility waters, right? In the event you or another diver needs an alternate air source, panic can set in VERY quickly. Once panic has struck in that millionth of a second, heart beat and respiration rapidly speed up. This can be a slippery slope and can quickly lead to disaster. Developing the muscle memory and calm mental ability is what you really want to acquire rather than just the physical act of lending out that air source (or receiving it).

So the next time your buddy wants to borrow something, be happy to share the air!

3 replies
  1. Mark kurdys
    Mark kurdys says:

    Great reminder! I ran completely out of air during a 5 meter safety stop on ascent from 25 meters , with my buddy, and we clearly communicated that I was out of air but neither of us thought to simply buddy breathe through the rest of the safety stop and I surfaced, instead. No problems but we felt really stupid once we remembered the proper response .

  2. Ric Moss
    Ric Moss says:

    As an instructor I have observed many variations of conscious and spontaneous reactions to aquatic calamity including malfunctioning regulators or failure to monitor air consumption. Consequently I have incorporated into my training sessions a repeated reminder to regularly engage in mental “what if” scenarios as anecdotal evidence exists in support of mental exercises result in improved automatic reaction to stimuli under stress. This article expands the theme to include muscle memory as well as mental preparation.


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