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· Street Cleansing Operative
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<font color='#000080'>I've only been diving for four years, but there seems to have been a steady increase in diving fatalities in that time.

With three fatalities this must have been one of the worst weeks ever for UK diving.

It would be unseemly and inappropriate to comment on the recent incidents, particularly with no real information available. However, talking in just general terms, what do you think is the cause of this apparent rise in incidents?

Can it be put down to simple, relative statistics? More divers - more incidents.

I know my wife bricks it every time that I go out now, and I've got to admit that during a week like this I start to wonder if it's only a matter of time until it's my turn.

Anyone else feel the same? What do you think?
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Mark Davies @ July 25 2003,18:34)]Can it be put down to simple, relative statistics? More divers - more incidents.
More poorly skilled divers doing dives that they should not be doing = more incidents.

It's the lack of skills that is the number one cause of DCI and probably most other incidents.

It's a sad fact that most diving incidents could be easily avoided.

If you wife is that worried you should investigate DIR as that's as safe as you can get (unless you take up golf).

Regards,

Mark.
 

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Actually, I understand the number of fatalities per year in the UK is in fact decreasing. However, DCI cases are increasing in the UK, in contrast to most other countries, where the trend is the opposite. This does suggest that UK divers are tending to do dives for which they are not properly trained/equipped. The fact that fatalities are decreasing while the DCI incidence is rising can probably be attributed to better support, i.e. casualties are dealt with faster and more efficiently these days.
 

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Hi Mark, I think with UK diving you need to dive regularly or not at all.  Part of the contributing factor is the obsession with diving deep. How many people do we know, don't dive for months and then go out and dive a deep wreck, I guess we are all guilty of it to some extent as well as going out diving deep with unfamiliar equipment.  Its also hard to be honest and objective about the level of one's own ability, agency training certificates are no substitute for meaningful hands on experience and regular practice.  Take an experienced club diver average length of membership = 4 years, if we say the above average diver does +-50 hours or 100 dives in 2 years and has around 200 dives by year 4.  On average it adds up to very little in water time and very little regular practice.    It's a fact there's a bunch of amatuers doing dives with less training and less safety equipment, planning and backup procedures than the HSE would ever allow a professional to do.
 

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One of the most telling things that was drilled into us on the GUE courses was the need to practise, practise, practise! The general consensus was that you should be in the pool as much as possible (once a week if you can manage it), running skills and drills.

It's amazing how may dive clubs I've been to that have pool nights, and what are the experienced divers doing? Sat on the poolside chatting! It seems like the attitude is - pools are for novices only. It's by far the most difficult place to do skills. If you can shoot a blob, do a shutdown or share gas at 2 or 3 metres, you can do it anywhere!

If you want to chat, go down the pub - it doesn't stink of chlorine and you can have a beer at the same time...

Chris
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Mark Davies @ July 25 2003,18:34)]With three fatalities this must have been one of the worst weeks ever for UK diving.
Afraid not. I feel that all the agencies however are placing too much emphasis on :-
a)   get you in the open water NOW
b)   total dependance on kit, not in your ability to be "happy" in the 'oggin.

Could well be wrong - remember I don't dive any more, I just repair 'em.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Tibbs @ July 25 2003,20:27)]One of the most telling things that was drilled into us on the GUE courses was the need to practise, practise, practise! The general consensus was that you should be in the pool as much as possible (once a week if you can manage it), running skills and drills.

It's amazing how may dive clubs I've been to that have pool nights, and what are the experienced divers doing? Sat on the poolside chatting! It seems like the attitude is - pools are for novices only. It's by far the most difficult place to do skills. If you can shoot a blob, do a shutdown or share gas at 2 or 3 metres, you can do it anywhere!

If you want to chat, go down the pub - it doesn't stink of chlorine and you can have a beer at the same time...

Chris
<font color='#0000FF'>I agree with all you have said there.

I think I am the only diver in my club that ever practices in the pool or that goes and does proper skills/drills practice sessions. But, I am the only one that has had GUE training.
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Tibbs @ July 25 2003,20:27)]It seems like the attitude is - pools are for novices only. It's by far the most difficult place to do skills. If you can shoot a blob, do a shutdown or share gas at 2 or 3 metres, you can do it anywhere!
err excuse me but are you on the same planet ?
if you can't do them in a bloody pool you shouldn't be in open water in the first place. you try doing them at 40 mtrs in next to zero viz in cold water then tell me that if you can do them in 2-3 mtrs in a pool you can do them anywhere
 

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Too many people are trying to live up to the 'I AM A DIVER' thing. Over kitted, under trained, no experience, no savvy.  One of my mates has just finished a Trimix course and the first thing his 'new buddy' said when they got back on the boat after their first dive was 'that was the first time he had done shut downs' on his twinset that he had been using for over a year. Darwin award possibly.  This bloke was doing the course so he can do 70m stuff, he didn't know what Decoplanner was when it was shown to him for the first mix dive. My mate said that he looked the part with all the right gear but didn't have a clue.
 

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<font color='#000F22'>I agree with Budgy - I don't give a monkey's toss which school of diving you adhere to - it's water time that matters.

PADI, BSAC, GUE it doesn't matter unless you are diving regularly then you should limit your depth.

The concept of working out in the pool having any equivilence to open water is total cock. Pools are great to work on skills and I use one every chance I get but skills need to be worked on in the sea if that's where you wanna dive.

The reasons for the increased number of DCI incidents are varied however I would guess that:

Guys doing dives they're not prepared for -
Guys out of practice -
Guys thinking they know it all -

and factor X - sometimes shit happens.

As always - if you wanna dive deep - dive regularly, understand decompression, plan bailout every dive and be lucky.
 

· DUE CEO, Booking agent, Coffee maker & Dogsbody...
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Hi all

To go back to Marks first observation, we seem to go through spats of incidents, usually based on early season or a good Bank Hol weekend.

Some other top observations on this thread though (which is why i luv YD), we had a guest diver out with us last weekend, right quals for the dive, but this was Dover in poor vis. Quality kit, far better than mine but his torch was in his car! He was new to the conditions and missed out on a good dive. But he got back up safely.

I, in my clapped out old kit had a very good dive. I make big mistakes in good conditions though, i get complacent in clear vis and missjudge depth in clear water. Going to the Maldives, Red Sea, Gozo is more of a worry to me as i am not used to the clear water and may well be blase, than diving a new wreck off Dover in .5m vis with the current running like a freight train. Problem - Clear water, blase, narked, poor judgement!!

To practice skills is the answer too most incidents, become an instructor and you practice the basics all the time, which is probably why BSAC emphasise this so much.

I have conducted one rescue this season and we had another last weekend, in both cases the basic skills from the pool were used and worked very well. The overall scenario though was in both cases outside the normal training scenario and needed adaption, in last weekend case by an extremly experienced diver and instructor.

I would add that low tissue codes, slow assents and O2 admin probably prevented these cases decending down into the incident pit.

Conclusion. Don't get complacent. You can drown in 2" of water. Practice, Practice, Practice.

Dive Safe and Progress

Paul
 

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You'll also notice when we get a poor weather and bad conditions ie boats cancelled etc etc the Incident figures reflect this. ie low numbers diving less incidents.  
Early good weather especially a prolonged summer starts to make the stats climb.

There still continues to be an increase in people learning to dive according to PADI'S figures, if my memory serves me well the only year it didn't increase was the year "JAWS" hit the big screen.
 

· DUE CEO, Booking agent, Coffee maker & Dogsbody...
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Para (If i can use your first name)

I dive in constant fear of meeting Jaws off Dover.

I also met a Whale Shark off Watamu, Kenya. Scared the shit out of me at first as we were dawdaling at 6m using up our gas.

Great once i knew what it was but first view was quite scarry.

Regards

Paul
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (markg @ July 25 2003,22:50)]
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Tibbs @ July 25 2003,20:27)]It seems like the attitude is - pools are for novices only. It's by far the most difficult place to do skills. If you can shoot a blob, do a shutdown or share gas at 2 or 3 metres, you can do it anywhere!
err excuse me but are you on the same planet ?
if you can't do them in a bloody pool you shouldn't be in open water in the first place. you try doing them at 40 mtrs in next to zero viz in cold water then tell me that if you can do them in 2-3 mtrs in a pool you can do them anywhere
It's far easier doing it in 40m than 3m. Personally I don't shoot blobs from 40m - been there done it, hate it. 21m is more than enough, and since I don't generally dive deeper than 35m, I don't drift far enough from the wreck for it to make it difficult from the skipper to see where I am. Buoyancy is so much easier at depth. Boyle's Law anybody?

Remember all the skills are done with neutral buoyancy! If I touch the bottom or the sides in the pool then that's a failure. I don't do the kneeling on the bottom thing. Moving this into the 'real world' generally means I don't have to do things in nil viz, because I haven't touched the bottom to stir the silt up...

And of course I CAN do them in 2-3m. I know because I practise there... At what point did I say I couldn't do them?

The question is, can YOU do them in 3 metres? The skills I generally do are:

Shutdown (Valve drill)
Gas share
Mask clear
Shoot blob
Different fin kicks (including backwards)
No mask neutral bouyancy
Surprise OOG

Though there are others I do when I think of them. All done with neutral buoyancy, not touching the bottom or floating more than 50cm from the bottom, whilst maintaing trim (actually the most difficult thing).

I was taught when playing rugby that hard training makes for easy games. It's the same for diving. Training hard in the pool makes 'game day' diving so much easier. Something bad happens? My attitude is 'bring it on!' I've practised for it so I'm ready!

I wouldn't expect to get on the rugby pitch without turning up to training, so why should I expect to go diving without training?

As for not doing the dives if you can't do the skills in 3m of water, that would sadly stop about 75% of the divers I have seen on trips recently from getting in the water. My buddy and I of course are covered, because we can do them!

Chris
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Gavin Yates @ July 25 2003,23:26)]The concept of working out in the pool having any equivilence to open water is total cock. Pools are great to work on skills and I use one every chance I get but skills need to be worked on in the sea if that's where you wanna dive.
Why? What makes it different? The only difference I can see is change in viz and different undergarments. I don't dive with my Thinsulate on in the pool because I would probably pass out from heat exhaustion! Apart from that I go in with my open water rig on, drysuit, gloves and all. To simulate open water, I also do skills in open water with my undersuit on to make sure my skills are up to scratch.

Viz should make absolutely no difference to the skills done. They're all 'close' skills and don't rely on being able to see any great distance.

Chris
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Tibbs @ July 26 2003,10:10)]Viz should make absolutely no difference to the skills done. They're all 'close' skills and don't rely on being able to see any great distance.
You're missing one of the most salient factors of diving, and that's the difference in psychological state between being in a warm safe & controlled environment versus the open sea, cold water bad viz etc.

And it is a divers psychology which I see as the issue involved in increased incidents, not skills, as well as the rush to get through training as Phill has pointed out, which for me falls under the same umbrella, ie no experienced enough to be mentally prepared.

As for being good in a pool, it's the equivalent of being a "bedroom musician" no good playing big licks in front of the mirror if you freeze at the thought of ad libbing on stage.

The only time I ever go into the pool is with trainees, all my practice is done in the sea (or lakes etc during winter) where it will be needed, pool stuff is just playing around.

Well said Gav, enough already of the agency BS
can't you GUE/DIR guys lay off with the attempted point scoring? I'm sure I'm not the only one totally bored with it.
As Paul has indicated, our agency is very keen on promoting the instructor route, consequently skills are thought about and practiced with great regularity, and it is something I would recommend for any keen diver.

Regards
Steve
 

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[b said:
Quote[/b] (Steve W @ July 26 2003,11:48)]Can't you GUE/DIR guys lay off with the attempted point scoring? I'm sure I'm not the only one totally bored with it.
Believe me, Steve, you're not.
 

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I agree that practice is the key.  Skills decay, and practice reverses this. Also, your drills become second nature - one less thing to worry about if things go wrong.  

I did try new gear in the pool once, but other than that I'd rather practice in the real environment.  I agree though that trying a new or difficult technique would be safer in a pool - I did all my courses in the Red Sea where I could learn the skills in the best condotions.  However, practice should really be in the target environment.  Easy for me to say though - I live next to the sea.  It may be cheaper for others to go to a pool.

Practice can be done during a slack moment in a normal dive.  I regularly swap to my backup regs (I swap anyway as I'm on indies), or some other drill.  No need to take a complete evening just for practice.

I think the low vis and the cold water makes the UK more "interesting" (tricky) to dive.  If you get spooked, a lot of people will seek refuge in going for the surface - hence the DCI increase.  Easier to get spooked when you can't see much and it's cold...

Just a thought...
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>The idea behind doing the skills/drills in 3-6m is that if you can do them there while maintaining proper trim and neutral buoyancy, you will also be able to do them in a real emergency while you are inside a wreck/cave at any depth without getting yourself killed. That's it. There is very little room for error in shallow water. On GUEs Tech-1 course we spent most of the time no deeper than 6m doing high stress 'simulation' scenarios. If you have crap bouyancy control at that depth even a simple S-drill results in an unwanted trip to the surface. Many divers don't realise what state their buoyancy control is in until they have to stop thinking about it and start interacting with their buddy. Oh look we have found ourselves shooting to the surface....

Don't let the first time you discover that you have poor buoyancy control when task loaded and stressed be at depth as it could very well be your last.

Being a very experienced diver in terms of number of dives done does not automatically mean you have the basic skills required to save your life in an emergency. Far from it in fact.

We are not trying to 'score points', just explaing how we are aware of the risks and are doing something about it - Practicing, practicing and practicing some more.

Regards,

Mark
 
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