Posts

Benefits of Tech Training as a Sport Diver

There is always something to learn, and an intense focus on improving skill sets and better understanding dive theory can help any diver perform more efficiently in the water on almost any type of dive.

Clipping: A Vital Skill for Fluid Diving

This article touches upon efficient ways to operate the ‘cursed’ clip and offers a few ideas on handling known as ‘Clip Management’.

Do You Have What it Takes to be a Rescue Diver?

by Dr. Thomas Powell:
dive rescueWhat is a Rescue Diver? Around the world, divers often have a misconception about the skills, capabilities, and responsibilities of a person who holds the title “Rescue Diver”. The purpose behind the rescue diver certification from Scuba Diving International (SDI) is to help individuals develop the skill sets and knowledge base needed to perform self-rescues, basic first aid, and buddy assists. Essentially, when a problem arises during a typical dive, a rescue diver has been better trained to deal with stress and to recognize a potential problem. He or she is then taught how best to mitigate problems and make sure that a diving pair can return home.

The term rescue diver often elicits thoughts of the actions and activities that are performed by public safety dive teams. Harrowing conditions, bad weather, odd hours, and unique situations come to mind. The reality is that rescue diver classes are designed to be a core program available to any diver who wishes to learn more.

During a typical rescue class, a diver will first learn about the prevention and causes of dive-related accidents. Essentially, topics such as stress, fitness, dive equipment, and panic will be discussed in relation to one or more people. This information will show a diver how small factors that can cause discomfort may create fear and worry. Fear may lead to panic and possible harm. For this reason, a diver must look to eliminate or mitigate possible factors that may stress a diver or dive buddy.

Second, many types of diver “rescue” will be discussed. These topics include assists, self-rescue, surface and subsurface approaches, diver in-water transport, exit techniques, first aid, CPR, and even oxygen provision. The objective is to work with a student to help him or her better understand how to handle a problem once it has been recognized. Each of these actions will be related to potential scenarios and then practiced in the water. If a diver has the opportunity to practice and fail, he or she will grow more confident and be better prepared to provide assistance in a real world rescue situation.

Finally, during a rescue course, divers learn about how hyperbaric medicine may be used to help dive-related injuries and how to manage an accident situation. This type of knowledge helps a diver to be mentally prepared during a problem situation. Understanding and learning how to collect information for a medical professional, how best to pre-plan medical emergency locations, gather data, and provide assistance will mean that a trained rescue diver may have the best chances of assisting his or herself, or another diver, until medical professionals can take over care. Similarly, an understanding of liability and legal considerations will help a diver to better understand that they can help others but also how to protect his or herself and properly file incident reports.

During an SDI Rescue Class, divers learn to better understand how to cope with cramps, exhaustion, breathing difficulties, and even how to search for a lost diver. The program was designed so that any diver, not just trained professional rescuers, can provide assistance when problems arise. The reality is the program is often fun. Divers experience stress in an environment where things will not always go exactly as planned. These possible issues during training will show a diver how to adapt when needed to best help one’s self or others during a real world situation. Every diver who loves the sport and wants to learn more about safe diving and how to be better prepared for unplanned problems should strive toward learning to be a rescue diver. Most individuals who love scuba diving have what it takes to become a Rescue Diver. The best way to learn more is to visit a local SDI shop, ask about the course, and talk to the instructor. From there, new fun awaits and it is the type of fun that can make scuba diving an even safer sport.


– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC

Your Dive Buddy is Unresponsive

your_dive_buddy_is_unresponsive

As technical divers, we accept that there may come a day when we have to make a difficult decision:  Can I really help this person, or am I just going to hurt myself in the process?  We may be dealing with a hard overhead environment like a cave or wreck where trying to tow an unconscious diver may add risks that need to be considered.  We can also be dealing with decompression obligations that may result in severe decompression sickness if ignored.  As a technical dive team, it is important to have a plan in place to deal with these situations.  Everybody needs to know what their role is and how to perform that role before the dive.

On a dive where you have direct access to the surface, the response is straightforward:

  • Perform a risk assessment before assisting the affected diver.
  • Hold the regulator in the diver’s mouth and maintain an open airway
  • While ascending to the surface, completing necessary decompression stops along the way.
  • Surface the unconscious diver and call for help.
  • Check for breathing and pulse.
  • Remove the diver’s equipment while providing rescue breaths if necessary.
  • Move the diver to shore and contact emergency medical services (EMS.)
  • Monitor all vitals, administer oxygen, and treat for shock, or provide
  • Administer rescue breaths and CPR if necessary until EMS arrives.

In technical diving, however, we rarely have direct access to the surface.  In an overhead environment where you have a long swim before you reach open water or significant decompression obligations, a few of the factors to consider include:

  • Is there enough room for me to exit while towing my teammate, or are there restrictions that may create entanglement hazards?
  • Towing an unconscious technical diver can be slow and exhausting; do I have enough gas to get me to the exit?
  • Are there support divers that can take over the rescue, or will I have to omit decompression in order to get the diver out of the water immediately?

These questions are difficult to answer with clarity in the heat of the moment; you should know the answers and be committed to the response before you even enter the water.  Have a plan, make sure everyone in the team is aware of the plan and their roles, and be prepared to make the decision.

Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.

Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201
Email: Worldhq@tdisdi.com
Web: https://www.tdisdi.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TechnicalDivingInt

How to Manage Your Panicked Dive

how_to_manage_your_panicked_dive

The thought of someone panicking underwater is often linked to a new or inexperienced diver. Rarely do we visualize a technical diver suited head to toe in advanced diving equipment with their mask on their forehead in a full blown panic at the surface. It’s often assumed technical divers are bullet proof to panicking because they have spent so much time and gained so much experience in the water that they simply wouldn’t panic to various situations. Well, we might burst some bubbles here but that is simply not the case. Technical divers are not exempt from panicking underwater; we’re going to outline a few things that could trigger a technical diver to panic and how they can be avoided.

Time – Timing is everything right? In this case it is… Technical divers need adequate time to gear up before entering the water. We’re not suggesting tech divers should move at snail speed but it’s important not to rush the process of gearing up before a dive. When a diver is rushed, they could miss essential predive steps and start the dive on the wrong foot by elevating their breathing and heart rate. This increased stress and pressure (no pun intended) could be the start of a downward spiral to panicking if something else goes wrong. Take your time to set up and don’t rush the process for your teammates either.

Again, what’s the Rush? – It’s no secret that elevated swim rates will increase your overall work load and breathing rate resulting in increased Carbon Dioxide (CO2) production. When you swim hard and overwork yourself, your body metabolizes more oxygen, which creates more CO2. This overload can cause us several problems but to focus on one; the body’s first reaction to CO2 build up is increased breathing rates and anxiety.  As you breathe harder and faster, your body has the tendency to retain more CO2, which creates more anxiety.  This is a slippery slope, if you happen to have an equipment failure or some other emergency while you’re already anxious; you are simply that much closer to a full blown panic attack.  If you suspect you are working too hard and building up too much CO2, it is important you slow down or stop and gain stable contact (if possible), relax, and get your breathing under control. This break will allow your body to vent excess CO2, effectively transport oxygen, and reestablish a regular breathing pattern. This way you can get yourself back in control of the dive and in a position of handling emergencies if they arise without going into a panic mode.

Task Overloading – It’s important not to overload yourself with tasks while technical diving. You ultimately should have a dive plan / profile to keep in mind at all times. Situations might require the use of a reel and lift bag, surveying and taking notes, switching deco gasses, and more. Can you keep up with your dive plan while taking on any of these tasks? If so, don’t try to compile too much at once. If you’re making decompression stops while ascending up a wall, switching gasses and sending a surface marker buoy should not be attempted at the same time. Prior to entering the water, make a plan for tasks to be completed and allow for time in between just in case it doesn’t go as planned or if the task takes longer than expected. If you find yourself overloaded and overwhelmed, stop! Think about the situation and your options. Ask your teammate for assistance if possible.

When a technical diver is far back into a cave, wreck, or has significant decompression obligations the consequences of panic can be extreme and fatal. Time is a similar component to the three scenarios we’ve outlined above. In most panic scenarios, divers felt some form of time pressure; whether they are attempting to swim a distance, hit a depth, perform multiple tasks and more. Make sure you allow yourself and your teammates to take their time (it’s not a race) and have adequate time allotted for the tasks of the dive.

Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.

Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201
Email: Worldhq@tdisdi.com
Web: https://www.tdisdi.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TechnicalDivingInt

The Best Rescue Divers Don’t Have to Rescue

the_best_rescue_divers_dont_have_to_rescue

It may sound strange but it’s generally accepted that the best, most successful rescue divers don’t have to actually rescue anyone because they are able to recognize signs of impending panic and are savvy enough to intervene before it happens.

Of course, the question most aspiring rescue divers ask at this point goes something like: “Is that a learned skill, and if so, is it difficult to learn?”

The short answer is: yes it is, and no it isn’t!

When we imagine a rescue diver in action, what flashes before our eyes – initially at least – is an image of a neoprene-clad hero(ine) pulling an unconscious diver from the raging surf… Think GQ cover meets Surfer Magazine and you’re halfway there. Then after a few nanoseconds, the real image kicks in and it’s not as pretty, not as organised and certainly not as heroic. The truth is that a full-blown rescue, as welcome as it may be in a disastrous situation, is simply something we should strive to avoid at all costs. In essence, a good rescue is one that may consists of a quiet word before the dive and either a change in the dive plan or a retreat to the nearest café for a coffee, a Danish pastry and a chat about tomorrow’s dive rather than today’s.

One of the pre-dive skills required in every TDI program is something we label as a stress assessment. This step in the pre-dive ritual is a vital “rescue” technique, and it applies to both self-assessment as well as buddy or team assessment.

Given that you and your buddy are certified, equipped and have the experience to enjoy your planned dive without undue risk, the day-by-day stock questions we should ask ourselves should always be: Am I up for this dive? Do I feel good about the dive conditions today? Do I feel ready to do this dive? Am I comfortable with the things that need to be done to make sure this dive is fun? And finally, how does my buddy (or buddies) feel about the dive?

This step alone – coupled with honest answers and a real understanding that there is no shame in calling a dive at any time… even before pulling on your gear – goes a long way toward being a “successful” rescue diver.

Speaking with divers following an aborted dive where things went absolutely pear-shaped, a sobering but not surprising statistic is the percentage of them who say: “I just knew something was going to go wrong,” or “I had a funny feeling about the dive before we suited up.”

If a rescue diver has a task at the dock, on the beach, at the dive site, it’s to conduct a quick survey of every diver – including herself – to check if everyone really is happy with the dive plan and feels no pressure to do the dive.

During the dive itself, even without the use of diver to diver voice communications, there are ways to keep checking that everyone is happy. What are they? Let’s review the opening statement that was used to kick this article off… “Recognize signs of impending panic, and are savvy enough to intervene before it happens.”

This form of clairvoyance – being able to tell when something is about to fall off the rails and do something about it BEFORE it happens – is not telepathy or some other psychic power, but a perfectly attainable skill called Situational Awareness, and a good rescue diver needs it.

In the most general terms, situational awareness is perhaps the most under-rated, unsung components of safe and successful diving operations.

In advanced diving discussions, we have adopted the term Situational Awareness (SA) as a sort of catch-all phrase to describe what we mean when we say: “keenly aware”; and probably for good reasons. SA has been a core concept in high-stress operating environments, such as the military and aviation, for many years.

In these milieu, SA skills support the ability of individuals to handle complex and rapidly changing situations in which informed decisions – directly relating to personal and team well-being – need to be made under tight time constraints. In these high-stress settings, lack of SA is one of the primary factors in accidents attributed to Human Error.

For the purposes of rescue divers, SA is best described as being aware of what is happening around you and your team, and understanding how the flow of events, and the actions of team members will impact your dive’s goals and objectives; both now and in the near future.

It also encompasses the skill of selecting which bits of information are relevant and which are not and can be discarded.

Put briefly, SA is the chess-player’s skill but applied in an environment where checkmate can result in real physical harm, and not just a wooden game piece being knocked over sideways.

One key sign of a buddy’s comfort level while underwater is his or her respiration rate. A nice relaxed breathing rhythm means a nice relaxed diver. Faster breath cycles may be a sign of tension, carbon dioxide build-up, overworking, and are often the first in a series of little events that can domino into bedlam.

I have a good idea of my normal breathing rate during a moderate dive – it’s around eight per minute – somewhere south of the adult resting average of 12 to 16 breaths per minute. I self-monitor during a dive, but I also pay attention to the bubble “signatures” of the divers around me, trying to pay particular attention to changes in the frequency of each diver’s exhalation. It’s certainly not a definitive marker of approaching problems, but a rapid increase in breathing is something a good rescue diver might want to pay attention to.

If your buddy starts to work hard and breath more heavily than usual, get their attention, slow them down, give them some reassurance… such as an OK sign and a squeeze on the arm… to show them you are watching out for them. Something as simple as getting a diver to pause and wait for a few beats before carrying on can easily avert an unpleasant episode further along.

If you dive with the same crew on a pretty regular basis, you also learn other more subtle signs and body language that will indicate that they are less than comfortable.

As a rescue diver, it is always in YOUR best interest to pay attention to these little markers during a dive. Sure you may be capable of executing a perfect tired diver tow and safe ascent with a semi-conscious buddy, but why take the chance when that whole scenario can be avoided by stepping in a few minutes early?

Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.

Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201
Email: Worldhq@tdisdi.com
Web: https://www.tdisdi.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TechnicalDivingInt

Rescue Diver: The Most Rewarding Training in Diving

Rescue Diver Inflating BCWhether you dive once a year while on vacation or are on your way to becoming a dive professional, the Rescue Diver course is most likely the most beneficial course you will ever take.  It will change the way you look at diving as you begin to not only accept responsibility for yourself, but those around you as well.  You will learn how to assess situations that have potential to becoming emergencies and how to avoid them, how to respond to emergency scenarios, and also how to employ effective rescue techniques in case an emergency cannot be avoided.   The course can be a bit intimidating, but the reward cannot be matched if the day comes where you need to call upon these skills.

The best way to handle an emergency is to prevent it from happening in the first place.  Noticing a problem isn’t always enough, sometimes it takes understanding how that small problem can escalate and cause a true emergency in order to eliminate the risk.  Rescue Diver training will teach you how to identify many potential problems and how to stop them from turning into an emergency.

When an emergency arises, the way the rescuer responds can mean the difference between life and death.  The fastest response isn’t always the most effective.  Proper training will help prepare you to respond appropriately to a variety of issues including: missing diver, injured diver, panicked diver, and unconscious diver on the surface and at depth.   Being prepared for these events will help you make a quick, and most important, effective rescue.

While the Rescue Diver Course can sound like a lot of work and not much fun, the end result is certainly worth it.  Chances are, you will find the training to be much more enjoyable than you expected, and everything you practice you will be able to practically apply to your everyday dives.  You will emerge a better, safer, more responsible diver, able to handle diving related emergencies and assist divers in need.  Your abilities may even save a life some day, and it’s impossible to put a value on that; making the Rescue Diver Course the most rewarding training in SCUBA diving.

 

Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.

Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201
Email: Worldhq@tdisdi.com
Web: https://www.tdisdi.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TechnicalDivingInt

Recompression Chamber

Do You Know Where Your Recompression Chamber Is?

Recompression Chamber

Photo by Jeff Gay

When diving on our own without the use of a charter operator, we sometimes do not do enough research on our own, if any at all, to find out what we need to do, who to call or where to go if an accident happens that may require a hyperbaric chamber…or a recompression chamber.

Most areas that are known for their scuba diving have a chamber nearby…others are far more remote.  Diving operators that take passengers out are usually well informed of the emergency procedures in case of an accident but divers that go out on their own without a licensed operator may want to find out where the closest facility is to their dive site and what is the best way to communicate and coordinate with them in a situation that may require recompression.

According to the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) there are over 4500 hyperbaric chambers in operation with approximately 700 of those in the North American region including the Caribbean.  Divers Alert Network (DAN) has approximately 160 of these chambers as a network of referral facilities.

It is always a good idea to look up the chamber’s info before you plan your dive…even if you were there just last year.  The reason?  Many of the chambers are closing their doors due to lack of funds or lack of business while others have withdrawn their 24-hour availability as it is difficult to staff them with people that are indeed capable of diagnosis and chamber operation around the clock.

Many locations also have “chamber fees”.  If you pay the fee, you may have little to no issue getting treated…if you choose to not pay for it, the chances of you not getting treated are still very low, but you may be faced with some outlandish fees at the time of treatment.   Remember, it is always good to assist the local chambers and the fees, whether you feel you may need them or not, assist keeping the chambers operational.

So please, before going for a dive, find out what is available to you by doing a little research first.  You could probably contact DAN or do a Google search in your area followed up by a phone call.

As always, be safe…

 

Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.

Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201
Email: Worldhq@tdisdi.com
Web: https://www.tdisdi.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/SDITDI

How to think like a Rescue Diver

Rescue DiversIt’s often said, “The best Rescue Divers never have to make any rescues.”  True Rescue Divers have the ability to recognize potential problems and get involved before they evolve into actual problems. What allows a Rescue Diver to think this way? Here are a few key elements that form the Rescue Diver state of mind…

Self Reliance – Rescue Divers are Self Reliant; they rely on their own judgment, capabilities, resources and independence while diving. Self Reliant divers take a proactive approach to their own safety in the water by continuously practicing and refining their dive skills. This no nonsense approach allows Self Reliant divers to gain confidence in the water and enhance their dive experience by not relying on anyone around them for a rewarding dive. Tricks from the Pros – Be honest with yourself and take responsibility of your dives, learn to handle your own emergencies and plan for contingencies.

Dive Planning – Rescue Divers make a plan, stick to it, and have back up plans for unforeseen circumstances. A dive plan typically consists of a clear explanation of entry / exits, the dive profile, who is leading and the route of the dive, buddy separation solutions, and a hand signal review. Tricks from the Pros – Let’s face it, we can’t talk under water. If the dive plan wasn’t clear enough, confusion can be easily resolved if each diver in the group carries an underwater slate.

Awareness – We’re going to focus on two aspects of awareness – Self and Global. The Self Aware diver is in tune with their feelings. Yes, we said it. You have to get in touch with your inner self! You need to ask yourself: Are you up for the dive? Is the dive within your experience level? Is your equipment functioning properly? If you have any hesitation answering any of these questions you might be putting yourself and the divers around you at risk. The Global Aware diver is in tune with their surroundings. They know their location in the water throughout the entire dive. They are conscious of their surroundings and know where their buddies are at all times. Tricks from the Pros – Pay attention to detail (self and global). Keep in mind, a diver outside of their comfort zone is more likely to be involved in an accident. Dive within your comfort zone and pay attention to your surroundings.

As you broaden your dive experiences and expand on the skills you developed in your initial scuba diving training your overall comfort in the water increases. Through this process you have learned new tricks and tips from diving with others, expanded your awareness and most importantly you’ve gained the experience to enhance your overall judgment in diving. Don’t get complacent; this is the time to expand your skills. If you haven’t taken the SDI Rescue Diver course already, it’s the next step for you. You’ve already learned how to take care of yourself, now it’s time to learn how to recognize potential problems in others and how to increase your own personal dive safety. Click here to start Rescue online.

 

Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.

Tel: 888.778.9073 | 207.729.4201
Email: Worldhq@tdisdi.com
Web: https://www.tdisdi.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TechnicalDivingInt