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The Horrors of Improper Tech Diving and How They Could Have Been Avoided

Does the thought of tech diving scare you? What are the aspects that concern you the most? Let’s take a look at some of the obstacles one may face in this type of diving as well as how to overcome them and why tech diving is totally worth it!

Fitness and Diving on the Technical Side

How do diving and fitness relate? Think about your buoyancy, is it harder or easier to control when you’re lighter or heavier? When you’re wearing your dive gear and a heavier set weight it’s going to make it tougher for you to carry because you’ll likely be out of breath much faster.

Can YOU Really Make a Living Being a Public Safety Diver?

Most of the time, it seems that the only pay off they do receive for recovering a weapon or someone’s child, is to be informed that they have no clue what they are doing

Staying Mentally and Physically Fit for Public Safety Diving

So which is more important? You have to decide for yourself. Getting all of the training in the world will not help an individual who simply cannot perform the tasks under stress and does not have their head in the game.

Keep Your Cool: What to Do in a Dive Emergency

by Josh Norris:
dive emergency
There is no way to tell what your reaction will be during an emergency until you actually go through it. For all of you out there who believe that knowing CPR and going through a three day rescue course has you prepared to face some of the horrible things that could go wrong in scuba diving, you are incorrect. Let us be honest for a moment. The rules of CPR seem to change more often than some of us change our shirts. Many people believe that giving rescue breathes in the water while dragging someone out is simply a waste of time, and there will be someone there to tell you all about the things you did wrong even if you pull someone to safety. Despite the many opinions out there, there is no way to predict when something will go bad. The only thing we can do as divers is try to be as prepared as possible for when they do. Believe it or not, under the water is not a natural place for human beings to play around. So how do you keep your cool and stay calm during an emergency situation?

Man the Hell Up!!

There are certain moments in life where you realize the universe is giving you an opportunity to prove yourself. Seeing a loved one, or regular dive buddy, trying to hold onto life while you desperately attempt to help them could be just the opportunity for you to step up and knock it out of the park. While this is obviously not an ideal scenario, the world is simply not an ideal place. After all, no one made you get in the water to begin with. The adrenaline rush and sense of adventure is what drove many of us into diving in the first place. Without that basic need to push further and further, there would be no use in wreck diving or all of cave country. We could all be satisfied by seeing the pretty reefs at 40 feet. However, no one actually watches a NASCAR race to see people drive in circles. The wrecks make it worth it right? Just like no one wants to watch a soccer match for nine hours just to see people faking knee injuries every twenty seconds. The point is that because we push further into caves/wrecks and because we dive deeper and deeper, the chance for some really bad stuff to happen increases exponentially. Finding the inner beast to do what needs to be done may just mean the difference to someone. Dragging someone out of the water half dead may be better than pulling them out a few days later and trying to collect from your dive insurance.

Do Not Hesitate!

Once you make the decision to intervene with someone to help, you better not stop until that individual is safe, killing you, or dead. There is no room for a half measure when it comes to emergencies. Wrapping your head around this notion is necessary in staying calm in the midst of something chaotic. Once you make the conscious decision that you will not stop, everything else becomes easy. Either you will succeed or you will die trying right? Either way, no one has time for you to second guess yourself. If you were wrong and misinterpreted the actions of your dive buddy as a sign of distress, then fight it out on the surface or at the bar. Maybe they should not have been acting erratically while diving to begin with. When it comes to dive professionals, there is a big line in the sand it seems. When should a pro get involved with someone? What if that person is not my student? What if the other Instructor ends up hating me? Who cares? If someone is in trouble, or you think they are in trouble, then you should probably go ahead and help out. If someone sees me stroking out in the water, please send me to the surface and help me get out of the water. I promise that I will not hate you for ruining my dive. All of that said, DO NOT be the guy who has to stick their nose into everyone else’s business at every turn. There is still a learning curve in diving and some take a bit more time to learn than others.

What is the Worst that Could Happen?

So you may have found yourself in an emergency situation, and your mind is racing with all of the information you could possibly remember. Take a moment and think about this though; what is the absolute worst case scenario for you? I always tell my students, in a very matter of fact way, that “Josh is gonna be alright.” In essence, I will go through hell trying to save you but if it comes down to it; I will walk away and be just fine. Any time there is a diving incident, there are so many people who want to point to the Instructor or dive operation and scream that it is their fault. Whatever happened to bad things just happening sometimes? No one expects for a high pressure hose to explode under water 200 feet down or 7,000 feet into a cave, but it happens sometimes. Good luck trying to sue the Chinese guy who made it. Sometimes bad things just happen. Ironically, bad things seem to happen to the nicest of people. So when you are handed the chance to help out, think about how bad it could possibly be. Try to do the right thing and everything will be alright.

So basically, there is no magic answer to staying calm during an emergency. I would say that all you need to do is pop a couple of Xanax before your dive and you will be calm no matter what. However, there are so many things wrong with that. As long as you understand that the longer you stay in diving, the more likely you are to run into a bad situation; you will become more and more prepared. That does not mean that you should bust out the red cape and start a new superhero scuba trend. All it means is that no matter what, you should have a basic understanding of what is right and what is wrong. As long as you stay on the “what is right” side of things, a bad situation will work out one way or another.


– Josh Norris
Owner/Instructor – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

4 Common Sense Rules You Can Apply to Wreck Diving

by: Joshua Norris:
wreck diving
As we all know, the scuba world is filled with many different types of diving. There are caves to explore, reefs to play on/near (don’t touch anything for God’s sake), diving in springs or a quarry to relax for a while, and almost anything else you can think of. Wreck diving has always been a popular activity. There are a few things to consider prior to entering a wreck in order to stay as safe as possible. However, this is not your normal “do” and “do not” list. These four discussion points are simply things to take into consideration. The ultimate decision is going to be left to you, the diver, and your buddies (if you have any). This brings us to our first discussion point:

  • – Personal responsibility
    The dive industry sometimes seems to be riddled with a lack of personal responsibility these days. When a dive pro is quick to take a picture of someone making a mistake, but never engages with the individual to perhaps shed some light on the problem, the entire industry looks petty and foolish. The old saying of “praise in public, and punish in private” has seemingly gone out the window. Instructors speaking poorly of other instructors, divers pushing their limits far beyond what is actually safe based on nothing more than something they read about on social media, and that feeling of “I forgot to bring X, but that will be no problem,” are situations that many need to do a better job of fixing.If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to dive down to a 150 feet on a wreck, but you have not been certified to that depth or given proper instruction on decompression procedures, should you continue with that dive? Well why not, right? Normal air is good to “180ish” feet and your buddy may just throw you an O2 tank and you can decompress at 20 feet until your computer clears itself. With that knowledge, what is the issue? You went out on a great dive, got an adrenaline rush because you broke the rules like a badass, and came home safe at the end of the day. No harm no foul… The issue with this is that the minute one little thing goes wrong your personal decision to go have a little bit of fun has successfully put the lives and jobs of both yourself and others at risk. Take some personal responsibility and explain to others your personal limits and perhaps you do not feel comfortable diving beyond that limit. Unlike prom night, you should not attempt to go as far as you can with everything in life.
  • – Forgot your computer, no big deal
    How many times have you forgotten your dive computer? For those of you who would never do such a thing and feel the need to explain with no less than 500 words how stupid someone must be to “forget” their computer, please feel free to do so in the comments section. To all of the others, like me, who have arrived at a site and discovered that they were missing something fairly important; this is for us. There is seldom a worse feeling than to be arriving at a dive site and realize that you have left something at the house. Now what do you do? You likely are not going to drive all the way back to retrieve it. You may be on a plane heading towards that vacation you have been waiting on all year. In any event, the fact remains that you have not properly packed your bag in some way. The best outcome for you is to admit defeat and find a suitable replacement for your missing item while conducting your dive(s). There is no reason to put yourself at risk simply because you do not want to rent a computer for an extra $20. If you happen to find yourself in a location that does not have that option, should you scrub your entire dive based on not having that particular item? I guess that just depends on what that the item is and what diving you would like to do. Again, as a diver you should do your best to take personal responsibility and remember that the safety of yourself and your dive buddies is paramount.
  • – It’s pretty much like cave diving in some ways
    Like many of you, I think I just heard all of the heads in Cave Country explode as a collective. Think about it though. If you are going to penetrate a wreck, it may be a great idea to carry extra gas, reels, lights, etc. This goes hand in hand with cave diving. The point is that if you don’t know what you are doing and are not fully prepared to enter the wreck; simply do not do it. Poke your head inside and look around if you like, but don’t go so far that you turn around and no longer realize just what you have done to yourself. There are a few videos online of folks lucking out and finding an exit. This is what we call, “one time learning”.
  • – Don’t over think it
    It happens all of the time. A group of new students will be standing, waist deep in the water, to do their very first open water dive. You and your buddy, a bit more experienced, see them in the water discussing their dive plan as you two are assembling and testing your gear. As you walk by them in the water, they continue to outline their plan in more detail than The Lord of the Rings. You conduct your 45 minute/1 hour dive and return to the entry point. What do you find? The same group of students discussing the same dive plan. Fast forward this into wreck diving and you will likely find some of the same attitudes, but perhaps in a different way. Meticulous planning of the wreck dive itself is not a bad thing at all. The problem comes when those who planned the dive with such great detail run into a situation for which they did not account. Perhaps the wreck moved since the last time you were there. Hurricanes have a tendency to blow things around a bit. Perhaps you had an equipment malfunction and did not plan for each and every thing to go wrong. From there, the horrible tradition of problems compounding themselves may begin. Just remember to plan your dive out, but also just go with it. Diving is not unlike other things in life in that curve balls will be thrown from time to time, and you must learn how to adapt quickly to potentially terrifying situations in an overhead environment. Educate yourself on how to deal with issues and practice until you can remain calm and take corrective measures when necessary.

These are some of the common sense approaches to take when preparing for a wreck dive. Things will go wrong, computers will fail, your buddies may call the dive leaving you in an awkward situation; just don’t be the diver that goes in and doesn’t come back simply because you rushed into it. I can guarantee that no one will care if you missed the wreck dive in five years. If you injure yourself or someone else though, that scar may never fade away.


– Joshua Norris, Air Hogs SCUBA

Not All Tech Divers Are A**holes

by Joshua Norris:
A**hole tech diverThe dive industry is just like any other massive group throughout the world. The military, corporate America, medical personnel, college athletes, spelling bee champs and many more examples all have one thing in common: there are complete and utter a**holes within each of these groups. Within the diving world, there are those of us who want to learn and experience new and exciting things. Then there are those who simply want to have a collection of cert cards that would rival any hardcore “Magic: The Gathering” pro / nerd / virgin. Some are in it for that once-in-a-lifetime vacation and some start diving because they are just no good at golf. Whatever the reason for being a SCUBA Diver is, there is nothing stopping us from taking the next step needed to go on that amazing 230ft dive that you’ve heard so much about. While many of us have gone as far as we want on the sport diving side, what is stopping us from continuing on to begin technical diving? This is where the industry becomes self-defeating in many ways.

When I first began diving in 2008, I clearly remember looking around at smaller tanks (40s), 7ft hoses, dry suits, bolts and snaps and wondering what all of it would be used for? When I asked, I was immediately told by a very old man sitting in the corner that I had no business being in the “real diver” section of the dive shop. I was unaware that the knight had taken a vacation from guarding the Holy Grail and decided to take up diving. Instead of telling him that, it is not my fault that he is a miserable person, I decided then and there that I would go through the diving that I wanted to (Open Water, Advanced, Deep and Wreck) and then just stop. After all, who wants to turn into that guy? In the grander scheme of things, who in the hell would want to be a diver at all after being told something stupid like that? Here I am spending close to $600 dollars to take a class to learn how to become a diver, and then I am not allowed to go into certain sections of a store because I am not a “real diver?” I don’t know if his dad hugged him too much or not enough. After completing the course with that group, I found a new dive shop to work with and it was filled with great people who wanted to simply go diving and have a great time. This is my kind of place.

As time went on though, I noticed that none of us were really advancing anymore. Sure we looked great in the water with our basic kits that were held together by duct tape and prayers, but we weren’t learning anything new. After even more time, I found that I could actually fall asleep in the water on a 30ft drift dive if I wasn’t paying attention. I then realized one of the most important lessons that any diver could ever learn other than never putting your mask on your forehead (which is apparently treason to some people):TO EXPAND YOUR DIVE KNOWLEDGE, YOU MUST DIVE IN DIFFERENT PLACES AND DO DIFFERENT THINGS!

That is when I really started to look into technical diving. All you have to do is to go a little bit deeper and learn a little bit more about how decompression works. If you really want to go to the next level, you could even learn about how trimix works. Aside from that, diving itself doesn’t actually change very much.

In saying that, there is some math involved and the planning must be done the right way. However, there is nothing stopping any of us from learning how to do it. So why are so many people so reluctant to get into tech? The answer is easy. Take any five tech divers and one of them will likely have the attitude that, “not everyone can be a tech diver.” So when an individual approaches that person about it, they are probably going to be terrified by the time they leave the conversation, and truly believe that they are never going to be ready for technical diving. Some shops are scared of losing customers so they intentionally keep people away from the idea with scary stories and false pre-requisites. TDI has opened the door to these individuals on a massive scale.

  • Intro to Tech
  • TDI Advanced Nitrox
  • TDI Decompression Procedures

These are the fundamentals of changing a person’s way of thinking into a more tech driven state. Just by taking the introductory course, or by sitting with someone who is not a complete jerk for a while, you will begin to understand that tech diving is not something to be scared of. Going diving on the Speagle Grove should not be the end of one’s diving adventures just because someone else dictates what you can and cannot do. Take a deep breath (see what I did there?) and go see the bottom of the Oriskany below 200ft. From there, you will have the greatest certification of all times. You will be able to find the people out there just like you and explain what tech diving truly is. You will also be able to go rub it in the face of anyone who said you couldn’t or shouldn’t do it.

In 2015 you should absolutely challenge yourself. Instead of listening to all of the reasons why you shouldn’t be a tech diver, take a look at yourself and find out what the real story is. There is no need to have 100 dives prior to taking an Intro to Tech Course. You don’t have to run out and purchase $10,000 worth of new gear. If you really want to though, please contact Air Hogs SCUBA in Garner, NC.

So what is the big deal about technical diving? On the actual diving side, there are so many more options that become available to you. On the academics side, there is NO big deal at all. If I can go to Florida right now and never have stepped one fin into the water, and be an Instructor for some agencies four weeks later, why the hell can I not go down to 180ft and beyond? Challenge yourself in 2015. Make Intro to Tech the one course that you want to take. At least then you will be able to truly make a decision as to if technical diving is a route you want to continue down. If not, keep listening to the Holy Grail knight explain how you are not good enough for some reason.

Dive Back in the Water

by Joshua Norris:

2 divers

At any given point throughout the day, there is a dive shop employee hearing a story that is repeated time and time again. An individual will walk in or call and start a conversation by explaining “I used to dive all the time but then ______________ happened and now…” The reasons usually revolve around some sort of life change. It could be a divorce, prolonged sickness or injury, or a new addition to the family. No matter what the reason is, the fact remains that the diver has been dry too long and now wants to return to the sport they love. How can this be done safely? Divers should know that leaving their gear and knowledge hanging in the closet or garage for ten years equates to needing some sort of an update. Sadly, this is not the case in many instances. Needing to update or at least service your equipment is arguably the least of your worries. Having the ability to dive with confidence is something that perhaps has been lost during a diver’s time off. With the SDI Inactive Diver Course, an individual has the opportunity to ask all of those “embarrassing” questions that they may not otherwise get to once on a boat.

What is the SDI Inactive Diver Course?

This course is designed for individuals who feel the need to reinforce their skills and knowledge prior to scheduling a dive. Spending time with an instructor in a contained and monitored environment allows a diver to slowly remind themselves of what diving is like instead of jumping right back into the water and realizing their comfort level has diminished. The course begins with a reintroduction to the knowledge side of diving. The instructor will take time to bring the student up to speed with current standards and practices. From there, the student will conduct a dive under the supervision of the instructor in a controlled environment. During this dive, the student will perform the open water skills. The goal of the course is to make the diver who may question themselves into the diver who knows the answers.

So how long is too long out of the water?

There is no magic switch that will force a diver to become uncomfortable in the water after “X” amount of time. How long someone is out of diving does not dictate when the Inactive Diver Course should be completed. The comfort level of the individual in the water does. It is ultimately the responsibility of the diver to inform a dive professional if they are not 100% confident in their skills and knowledge prior to diving again. Without this information, the dive professional cannot and should not assume that someone will have issues in the water while others will not. To minimize the chance of having an incident, the diver should go through the course if they feel the slightest need. In essence, if you are questioning yourself then you need to entertain the idea of participating in the Inactive Diver Program. It is an easy way to regain confidence.

2 divers in waterWhen a diver stays out of the water too long, skills begin to deteriorate and comfort levels start to fade. Going through the SDI Inactive Diver Course is the best way to refresh those skills. This is especially true if the diver is coming back from an injury of some sort. While the body may feel better, the way in which one dives could be impacted. Once the diver is comfortable and confident, the anxiety and hesitation should fade away. At that point, the diver can begin to remind his or herself why he or she got into this sport to begin with. It is important to remember that meeting people from all walks of life is one of the diving industry’s unique offerings, on a single dive boat there may be a range of individuals – from heart surgeons to cash-strapped college students. The SDI Inactive Diver Course leaves you no excuse for missing diving.

Joshua Norris
Air Hogs SCUBA
www.airhogsscuba.com