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  • May 21, 2024 1:53 PM | Howard Ratsch (Administrator)

    This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

    Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

    Does The Sport Diving Community Learn from Accidents?

    by Gareth Lock

    Do we learn from accidents as a diving culture and, as a result, take the actions, where needed, to improve divers’ safety? Though we might like to think that’s the case, the reality is more complicated as human factors coach Gareth Lock explains in some detail. Lock offers a broad six-point plan to help the community boost its learning chops. We gave him an A for effort. See what you think.

    For the complete GUE article, please use the following link.

    Does The Sport Diving Community Learn from Accidents? - InDepth (gue.com)

  • April 21, 2024 2:07 PM | Howard Ratsch (Administrator)

    A Primer on Underwater Navigation Technology - InDepth (gue.com)By Gabriel Pineda.  Ocean Plan’s Navigator Pro. 

    This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

    Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

    Underwater navigation seems like an obvious and useful extension of our dive computing capabilities. So why aren’t U/W NAV systems more prevalent? Former Shearwater director of sales and marketing Gabriel Pineda reviews the technology that exists today, discusses barriers to adoption, and offers some alternative approaches, including DIY solutions, to the problem of finding your way underwater.

    For the entire GUE article please use the link below.

    A Primer on Underwater Navigation Technology - InDepth (gue.com)


  • March 22, 2024 11:42 AM | Howard Ratsch (Administrator)

    What to Do When You Overheat While Diving | Scuba Diving

    An overheated diver catches a lucky break

    By Eric Douglas 

    This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

    Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

    The air was hot, and all Diane could think about was getting in the water. Her drysuit made it even worse. She rushed to get to the swim step, telling her dive buddy she would meet him there. And then everything went dark.

    The Diver

    Diane was a 45-year-old diver in good physical condition, with PADI Advanced Open Water Diver and Dry Suit Diver certifications. She’d been diving for five years and had no known health conditions.

    The Dive

    Diane and her buddy were diving from a local charter boat with a planned depth of 80 feet. The air temperature was mid 80s, and there wasn’t much of a breeze. Surface water temperature was 64 degrees, but at depth it dropped to the 50s.

    Diane was overheating as she sat in the sun waiting on her buddy. She’d already sealed the zipper on her drysuit so she decided to get in the water to cool off. She felt lightheaded when she stood up but made her way to the entry point and put on her fins. With Diane’s “OK,” the divemaster turned away to help other divers.

    Related Reading: Ask DAN: How do I shore dive safely?

    The Accident

    Four other divers were already underwater when they saw Diane descending face-first like a rag doll. She was unconscious, and her regulator was out of her mouth. They saw her hit the bottom hard.

    Three of them raced to help while the fourth headed to the surface to alert the boat crew. All the divers were PADI Rescue Diver certified. One attempted to get Diane’s regulator in her mouth, but when that failed, they inflated her BCD and escorted her to the surface.

    The boat crew got Diane on board. She was not breathing, and her lips were blue. After a few minutes of CPR they noticed her breathing shallowly. They put her on oxygen first aid while heading to shore.

    Diane was airlifted to a local medical facility and almost immediately recovered. She was later given a CT scan to determine the reason for losing consciousness. None was determined. She was released the next day with a perforated ear drum and soreness but was otherwise fine.

    Analysis

    Diane overheated and passed out as she stood on the swim step. Dive gear is often dark or black, making it uncomfortable to sit in under bright sun, especially when air temperatures are high. In situations like this, stay in the shade, stay hydrated and don your exposure protection at the last minute to avoid overheating.

    The boat crew made a mistake by not observing Diane in the water or becoming concerned when she didn’t surface to wait for her dive buddy. But the most important takeaway from this accident is the quick reaction of the divers in the water and then by the boat crew on the surface. They performed CPR and administered oxygen. They also implemented their emergency plan and got an air evacuation on the way. The quick thinking and the actions of everyone involved saved Diane’s life.

    Lessons For Life

    Be prepared. Take a PADI Rescue Diver course and learn to respond in an emergency.

    Avoid overheating. You can overheat quickly in dive gear. Don your exposure protection last-minute, or leave your suit unzipped to maintain a comfortable body temp.

    Pay attention to your body. If you’re feeling lightheaded or otherwise unwell, take a minute to figure out what’s wrong. Collapsing on the boat in full gear can hurt. Losing consciousness in the water could be worse.

  • February 23, 2024 6:29 AM | Howard Ratsch (Administrator)

    Delays and Misdiagnosis

    By Jon Hardy

    This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

    Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

    Setting the Stage

    A physician named George took a tropical dive vacation with his wife Eve and teenage son Todd. The family took advantage of the two boat dives per day and unlimited shore diving offered by their resort. By Friday, George and his family were 13 dives into their weeklong vacation and planned only two morning boat dives so that they would have a 24-hour surface interval before their Saturday afternoon flight home.

    The Accident

    When they surfaced at the stern of the dive boat after their second dive Friday morning, George and Todd let Eve board first. George started to tell Todd that he felt something was wrong when he suddenly lost consciousness.

    Todd swam to his father immediately and yelled for help. The crew jumped into action and promptly got George and Todd out of the water and out of their dive gear. George regained consciousness quickly and, other than feeling out of sorts, he seemed to be all right.

    While the crew secured the boat, George's symptoms worsened. Because English was not the boat crew's primary language, the family had difficulty communicating with them. No neurological exam was performed, no first aid was provided and George, the only person on hand with any medical training, was in no shape to provide a diagnosis. On the ride back to shore, the crew told the family that George must have been stung by something in the water and he would be better soon. They volunteered to arrange a ride to a local medical clinic.

    When they arrived on shore, the dive guide called a cab, and George and his family went on their way. But the cab driver, seeing they were scuba divers, took them to the local hyperbaric chamber rather than the clinic. While paperwork was being completed and a medical exam was started for George, the dive guide from the boat caught up with them. The dive guide convinced George that he should go to the clinic, rather than be treated at the chamber.

    After some delay, the clinic began administering oxygen, but stopped the oxygen treatment during the night when the oxygen supply was needed for another patient. The next day, with worsening symptoms, George was returned to the hyperbaric chamber and treated.

    After multiple treatments at the local chamber and then back home, George was left with residual damage that precluded his continuing to perform surgery as part of his medical practice. He brought a legal action that was decided in his favor at trial.

    Analysis

    George likely suffered from a poorly understood form of decompression illness that appears to be caused when a minor arterial gas embolism occurs in a diver who has significant nitrogen loading. This causes a hard-to-treat form of decompression sickness, Type III DCS.

    Administering oxygen promptly to an injured diver is the best first aid, and getting hyperbaric oxygen therapy without needless delays is the definitive treatment.

    Lessons for Life

    • If a diver suffers a lapse of consciousness upon surfacing, immediately suspect arterial gas embolism, administer first aid and get proper medical care.
    • Carry dive accident insurance so there is no question about payment for treatment.
    • Be assertive. Insist on medical care, and make it clear to the medical professionals that the injured person has been scuba diving.
    • Contact Divers Alert Network (919-684-4326) and enlist their help to find proper medical support or to consult with local physicians for you.
    • To the best of your ability, ensure that the dive boats you use have radios and oxygen, and that the crew is trained and prepared to use them. At least one crew member should be able to recognize and deal with the signs and symptoms of diving accidents. In countries where English is not the primary language, try to determine if the boat crews can function in English, even if things become difficult.
  • January 22, 2024 12:40 PM | Howard Ratsch (Administrator)

    A Beginner’s Guide to Wreck Diving

    scuba.com

    This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

    Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

    Wreck diving is a specific type of scuba diving that requires added skill and provides a fulfilling experience for adventure seekers. Most wreck diving is done on shipwrecks, but it’s also common to explore sunken aircraft at the bottom of the sea floor. It’s become so popular among diving enthusiasts that retired ships have purposely been submerged to add to shipwrecks that can easily be accessed by beginners.

    But don’t be fooled—wreck diving with actual shipwrecks from many years ago and at much greater depths can be perilous even for certified scuba divers. Below, we describe the allure of wreck diving, common wrecks that divers explore, the different types of wreck diving, safety accessories that you’ll need to bring, and the potential dangers you need to consider before you embark on your first underwater expedition.

    For the complete article please use the following link.

    A Beginner's Guide to Wreck Diving (scuba.com)

  • December 24, 2023 6:21 AM | Howard Ratsch (Administrator)

    This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

    Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

    If backmount diving is like space travel (equipment consistency, practicality, and universal acceptance as a gold standard without a legitimate reason), then sidemount must be like surfing (emphasis on individualism, competitiveness, self-proclaimed coolness and, of course, belonging to a “tribe” of few).

    Now, everyone knows that I’m not very objective. I love sidemount to the point that if I cannot dive sidemount, I would often rather not dive at all. After years of pushing the limits with complex technical backmount dives, my first encounter with sidemount ignited a fire within me, reminiscent of that first exhilarating discovery dive. It was as if the underwater realm had unveiled a secret doorway, and all I had to do was step through with a permanent smile on my face, holding my regulator tight, knowing that a world of endless possibilities awaited.

    But, in all seriousness, sidemount is just another diving configuration with (as any other) many pros and some cons. Even if sidemount was born out of logistical challenges related to equipment transportation in British dry caves, it has permeated nearly all diving situations today.

    Nevertheless, sidemount is more complicated to get right than backmount, mostly due to the high personalization that is required to achieve its most important benchmark: a perfect trim. If you are new to sidemount, your journey may be a bit bumpy. But if you are already a devoted sidemount tribe member, you know that the journey truly never ends. Sidemount is organic—it keeps evolving.

    For the complete GUE article, please use the following link.

    The What, Which, and Why of Sidemount - InDepth (gue.com)






  • November 22, 2023 10:25 AM | Howard Ratsch (Administrator)

    DCS What is Undeserved in “Undeserved Decompression Sickness”?

    by Neal W. Pollock, PhD

    This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

    Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

    Divers still seek comfort in the notion of the “underserved” hit to explain unexpected incidents of decompression sickness. “Hey, my computer said I was fine.” NOT. Here diving physiologist Dr. Neal Pollock exposes the fault in this notion. While decompression algorithms take into account the divers’ profiles, i.e., time and pressure, there are a multitude of factors that can potentially impact divers’ decompressions, as the author explains. Once divers’ reject the escapism that accompanies the ‘undeserved’ label, they can get on with the important business of diving and giving adequate consideration in their deco planning.

    Spoiler Alert: the most undeserved element in the title is the word “undeserved.”

    ·                                

    Describing cases of decompression sickness as “undeserved” generally speaks more from an emotional perspective than a rational one. The driving factors are typically faith in imperfect tools and a desire (conscious or unconscious) to shift responsibility. 

    Decompression algorithms rely almost exclusively on pressure and time data to predict effects. Enticing pictures can be painted on the authority of any algorithm, but the reality is that all rely on limited input to interpret complex situations for people who are not uniform. Modern decompression models are important constructs that can help us to dive safely, but the products are rudimentary from a physiological perspective, without sufficient sophistication to deserve unquestioned trust. 

    The dive profile is almost certainly the most important determinant of gas uptake and elimination, but the truth is that we do not yet have sufficient data to quantify the impact of many of the variables that can influence outcomes (Pollock 2016). Instead, algorithms rely on simple measures and mathematical bracketing with the hope of covering the contributing factors. The problem is not in doing this; the problem is in being surprised when the outcome is not what was expected. 

    For the remainder of this GUE In Depth article use the link below.

    What is Undeserved in "Undeserved Decompression Sickness"? - InDepth (gue.com)

  • October 23, 2023 2:19 PM | Howard Ratsch (Administrator)

    High-Pressure Hoses

    by Francois Burman

    This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

    Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

    A lurking peril

    PEOPLE WHO HAVE FILLED scuba cylinders, refilled oxygen cylinders, or boosted a gas mix are familiar with using flexible hoses. Some hoses are covered with a durable rubber or thermoplastic jacket, while others appear even sturdier with a braided stainless-steel mesh on the outside. Correctly specified hoses are rated to pressures of up to 6,000 psi (414 bar).

    When we first learn the basics of high pressures in hoses and cylinders, we are aware of the potential for serious injury to ourselves and those around us. If hoses fail, the results can be ear-shattering sounds, parts as projectiles, or an escaping gas stream that is strong enough to take out an eye. Without suitable restraints, hoses can whip around with sufficient force to amputate a limb.

    Complacency often takes over in most cases, as hoses are sturdy and designed to be handled frequently and subjected to all kinds of abuses. But the risks never diminish, only our perception of risks.

    The keys to hose safety are regular inspection, competent use, and replacement according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Hose replacement is necessary with regular use and should occur more frequently with high usage or in humid areas where metals corrode easily.

    The DAN Risk Assessment Guide for Dive Operators and Dive Professionals, which is available as a free download on DAN.org, contains a series of recommendations to address these risks. This information relates to selecting materials and manufacture, hose installation and use, and inspection and maintenance.

    Please use the link below for the full DAN article.

    High-Pressure Hoses - Divers Alert Network (dan.org)


  • September 22, 2023 2:41 PM | Howard Ratsch (Administrator)

    This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

    Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

    Down Drafts: 5 Life-Saving Tips

    By Jon Hardy 

    Case 1

    Ed.'s note: The incidents described here are real. Names of locations and people have been changed or deleted.

    The diving had been great — five days of easy drift diving on a Caribbean island known for its walls. Although Anne dived only on vacation once a year, she had her own gear and had been doing these dive trips for many years. She had never taken any advanced training or a scuba refresher, but she was comfortable diving. It was so easy to just drift and let the dive guides and boat crews deal with all the logistics, planning and details of the diving.

    Anne preferred the smaller boats with fewer divers, signing up for her dives directly with local dive operators after she arrived on island. For her last day of diving, she wanted to do something special, so she shopped around for an operator going to a dive site she hadn't been to. A small local operation was offering a trip to a remote reef known for its unique marine life and strong current.

    The trip out to the site was easy, although this boat was not as fast or as large as the others she had been on. It also did not carry oxygen or have a radio. The crew and dive guide spoke only limited English, but were friendly and helpful. Anne entered the water with the small group of divers and the guide after a limited briefing.

    She was never seen again.

    As it turned out, the edge of this reef had a significant downwelling. As the large mass of water, driven by the strong current, reached the edge of the reef, it plunged downward into the abyss.

    The dive boat returned to shore without Anne. Not knowing where she was staying, the operator decided to wait until someone asked about her, and therefore made no report that she was missing. Because Anne was single and lived alone, it wasn't until the next week, when she did not return to work, that her family started an investigation, which led from the airline to the hotel to the dive operator.

    The family's desire to bring a legal action against the dive operator turned out to be hopeless. The legal system of the country in which the accident happened allowed for little litigation, the few legal actions that were permitted had extremely low monetary limits, and the ability of American attorneys to function in the foreign court was extremely limited.

    Case 2

    One evening after dinner, a dive instructor's phone rang.

    "Hello, this is Fred," the instructor answered.

    Fred, this is Neal. You saved my life, man!"

    "Oh, really? How so?"

    Neal had taken a weeklong dive trip on a live-aboard in the Pacific. On many of the dives, a small tender from the live-aboard took divers to a site, dropped them off, then picked then up as they surfaced. On one trip, the divers were dropped off near an island with the admonition to stay close to shore. The offshore currents were not only strong, but vortexes were not uncommon in this area, causing the water to swirl in a downward flow, as in a whirlpool.

    Due to delays among the other divers, and the crew not being sure of their position, Neal was the last to enter the water. By the time he descended, he was not only no longer with the group, he was also not with his assigned buddy. He almost immediately realized that he was in a very strong current with no bottom in sight. Putting it all together — no group, no buddy, no bottom, strong current — Neal decided to abort the dive and started swimming for the surface. Within moments, he realized that not only was he not moving toward the surface, he was being pulled downward at an accelerating rate.

    Fear was rapidly turning to panic as he passed 100 feet, still kicking. Then the voice of his instructor, Fred, started playing inside his head — "If all hope is lost, get positively buoyant." Neal ditched his weights, pushed his power inflator button and continued to kick for the surface. After a few more agonizing moments, he paused at 135 feet, then started up, at first slowly, then faster and faster until he had to dump air from his BC to slow his ascent as he approached the surface.

    The crew later apologized for their mistake of dropping divers at the wrong place. Neal suffered no physical injury from his near-miss, but he became much more careful about putting his safety in the hands of others.

    Lessons For Life

    • Be aware of what dive guides and boat crews are doing.
    • Do not give the responsibility for your safety to others.
    • Be sure that any boat you dive from has a radio and carries oxygen.
    • Let someone else know your plans and be sure the dive operator takes emergency contact information.
    • If you're unable to deal with a problem under water, get positively buoyant and go to the surface. If possible, slow down or stop on the way up, but remember that it's far better to risk decompression illness and be on the surface breathing, than to be on the bottom not breathing.
  • August 21, 2023 9:18 AM | Howard Ratsch (Administrator)

    This article represents the views of the author.  The article has not been fact checked by myself, the Board of Directors or any member of the USA Dive Club.

    Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

    A Buddy's Best Effort Fails

    By Jon Hardy 

    Setting the Stage

    Ed.'s note: The incidents described here are real. Names of locations and people have been changed or deleted.

    Joe and Mac went through the same open-water certification course and buddied for all of their post-certification dives. Shortly after, the dive store that offered their diving course and supplied their rental equipment sponsored a boat diving trip, with their instructor serving as divemaster and coordinator.

    On the first day of the trip, Joe and Mac dived with their instructor Fred on two wrecks in the 70- to 90-foot range. Both dived in a safe and conscientious manner. For the next dive day, Joe and Mac asked Fred to let them dive on their own, which he willingly agreed to.

    The next morning, Mac appeared to be congested and to have an upset stomach; he may have taken some non-prescription medication. The boat ride out to the dive site was smooth, the water clear and calm. Joe and Mac made their own plan to dive the wreck. Fred approved the plan and they were on their way with no sign of stress or difficulty.

    The Dive

    Joe and Mac descended with ease. At the base of the mooring, around 80 feet, they adjusted their buoyancy and swam the wreck, side by side. After a very short time, Mac stopped suddenly. Joe swam close to check Mac's condition. Mac reached for Joe's octopus, was handed it by Joe, and took two or three deep breaths. Joe then took hold of Mac and started swimming to the mooring line. As he did, the octopus fell from Mac's mouth and Joe replaced it. This happened twice. Joe now realized that Mac was in serious trouble, added air to his own BC and ascended, while holding onto Mac. They ascended quickly, but under control, not pausing for a safety stop. At the surface, Joe raised his hand and yelled. Immediately divers from one of the other dive boats helped pull Mac on board, began giving CPR, and then raced to shore. An ambulance transferred Mac to a hospital where he was pronounced dead from a combination of air embolism and drowning.

    Legal Action and Analysis

    Mac's family sued the dive store and the instructor. Their claims against the store and instructor included renting defective equipment, providing improper training, keeping poor records, diving beyond 60 feet and failing to provide direct supervision.

    During the discovery process and subsequent trial, some of the realities of recreational diving were clarified:

    • Dive equipment rarely causes diving accidents, and, in this case, no defect could be found that related to the actual events.
    • Although Fred was an instructor, he was not teaching at the time of the dives; his original training of these divers had been more than adequate; the divers had successfully made several dives without an instructor after their certification.
    • How well dive rosters and log books are completed does not cause diving accidents.
    • The dive industry's recommendations on such things as depth limits are just that — suggestions, not regulations.
    • Indirect supervision is the most common method used by dive professionals when supervising certified divers. Given this, there is nothing a dive professional can do to directly aid a diver in need.
    • Dive professionals do not have police powers to keep certified divers from diving. In fact, in this case, Joe and Mac were not only certified, but their experience exceeded the dives done in an Advanced Open Water course.
    • Joe's rescue efforts to help Mac were exactly what a dive professional would have done in the same situation.

    We will never know what actually happened to Mac, but it was clear some medical condition caused him respiratory distress and did not allow his airway to equalize on the way to the surface. There is nothing a rescuer can do to open another diver's airway while under water. If a diver is not breathing, the best course of action is to get to the surface with all deliberate speed. The dive store was dropped from the case, and the jury found in favor of the defendant instructor.

    Lessons for Life

    • Be fit for diving — free from illness and not medicated to cover up an underlying illness.
    • If you should ever throw up under water, do so through your regulator and then clear it or switch to your octopus for a clear airway.
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