Trained to Run Out of Air Recently updated !This entry was posted in Diver Training on April 27, 2015 by Admin I saw trouble coming in advance. What I didn’t foresee, however, was that the diver in question would refuse my attempts to prevent a problem from happening. And the reason why stemmed from how he had been taught.
Cozumel, 2006: I was leading a small group of divers from a midwest dive center on a four-day trip to one of my favorite dive destinations. One of the group members was a newly certified diver whom I knew, but had not taught personally.
The location was Palancar wall. This would be our group’s first deep dive of the trip. The plan was to drift the face of the wall at 80 feet, until it was time to return to shallower water and ascend.
The group was being led by a very capable local divemaster. I would bring up the rear, where I could more easily keep an eye on people.
I sensed early on that this diver was going through air faster than everyone else. This being the case, I started checking his pressure gauge on a regular basis.
When he hit 1,200 psi, I offered him my alternate, so that I could use my extra gas to get him to a place where he could ascend on his remaining air and surface next to the boat. To my surprise, he refused the offered second stage.
Immediately I started looking for a place where he and I could safely cut through the reef and return to shallower water, under the boat. While doing so, I offered him my octopus two more times yet, despite my insistance, he kept refusing.
At this point, a group of divers from another boat decided to cut right between us, as though we weren’t even there. By the time I got around them, my diver was gone.
I finally caught up with him on top of the wall. By now he was breathing fumes and was more than happy to take the offered alternate. Unfortunately, by the time we hit 20 feet, his empty tank was so light he ended up dragging us both to the surface.
On deck, I asked him why he didn’t take my alternate when offered. His response? “I wasn’t out of air yet.”
As it turned out, both his instructor and the training materials he watched and read presented alternate-air-source use as something you did only after running out of air.
I patiently explained that, had he taken my octopus when offered, I could have gotten him to a point where he could have easily ascended on his remaining gas, and we both would have been able to make a slow ascent and safety stop.
“I didn’t know you could do that,” was all he said.
Since first being introduced in the early 1970s, alternate air source second stages have been largely presented as something you use only after a diver has run out of gas. The idea that you can use them to prevent a diver from running out of air is almost never discussed.
So why not simply have a low-on-air diver ascend before running out of air? That would generally be the best response, but not always.
In the case of the diver I tried to help, an immediate ascent would have involved coming up directly from 80 feet and not 40, and surfacing some distance from the boat in heavy traffic. And while new divers generally associate the surface with safety, more experienced ones know that the surface is where most accidents happen.
Long surface swims in waves and current — and especially following a deeper dive — are something to avoid.
Since that time, I’ve made a point to teach beginning divers alternate-air-source use, not only while stationary and ascending, but also while traveling. Coupled with this has been a detailed explanation of when and why this could be beneficial.
Obviously, the best response to this type of situation is preventing it in the first place, by establishing turnaround or “take action” pressures and Minimum Gas Reserves (MGRs). We cover those in a separate article.
The bottom line is, if you teach students that an alternate-air-source is something they can only use after running completely out of air, you may be teaching them to run out of air.
Is that really what you want?
Reposted from cavediverharry.com
POORLY TRAINED INSTRUCTORS...
...create poorly trained divers. If you teach instructors, do more than just meet standards. Make sure all your candidates have a firm grasp of buoyancy control and its impact on the environment.
...was suggested by Australian Andrew Rand. It pretty much sums up everything.
Most entry-level students CAN master fundamental buoyancy skills..., even in today's more condensed time frames. But they can't do it if YOU keep teaching the same way we did in the 70s and 80s.
Balanced equipment. Proper weighting. Breath control. That -- and your constant admonishment to "stay off the bottom" and "stay horizontal" -- is all it takes.
Excellent article from Harry Averill at cavediverharry..com. If you haven't checked out his webpage it is something you certainly should do.
Someone recently characterized diver training as 50 years of tradition, unimpeded by progress. That’s pretty much on the money. Dive instructors, as a group, often resist change, as it’s simply easier to keep doing things the same way they always have. Training agencies can be every bit as bad, as modernizing their training materials may mean having to reprint all those expensive textbooks.
The problem with this is that, all too often, what students are taught in entry-level training bears no resemblance to how divers dive in the real world. A perfect example of this is the so-called “Five Point Descent.” Understand, there is nothing horribly unsafe about this skill. It’s been around for nearly 40 years and, apparently hasn’t killed anybody…yet. Here is a video someone posted on You Tube that shows their interpretation of how you should demonstrate a Five Point Descent to students:
Theproblem is, four of the five points demonstrated no longer reflect modern dive equipment or the way divers actually dive. To better understand why, you need to know a little bit about the history of diver training.
1. Agree to DescendThere is little argument that all divers in a team should agree to descend before one diver takes off and leaves his buddy or buddies behind. At issue is how you do that.
3. Switch From Snorkel to RegulatorIn fairness, most instructors simply teach this as Put your regulator in your mouth. That, at least, is realistic.
Unfortunately, this is frequently described as divers wordlessly switching from a snorkel to a regulator without actually talking to one another. In the video you saw, the diver is breathing from his snorkel even though his head is completely out of the water.
That’s not realistic at all.
4. Note the TimeUsing what? Seriously, when was the last time you saw a diver actually using (or wearing) a dive watch? Granted, many dive computers will display the time of day — but not after you get them wet.
This “Point” is a relic of the days when divers used dive tables and wore watches. How many people do that any more?
Okay, many new divers don’t have dive computers — but they are as equally unlikely to have watches or bottom timers. Entry-level dive computers have reached a price point of US$200 or less. That’s less than the price of a decent dive watch. Given this, what diver can afford not to have a computer?
Although dive computers and bottom timers can fail or be misused, they are more likely to accurately track a diver’s bottom time than a diver is to remember his or her precise time of descent. “Then they should write it down,’ you say. C’mon! These are human beings we’re talking about here. Get real.
5. Deflate Your BC and Equalize on the Way DownThis is the one realistic “Point” among the five — except, of course, that it’s two steps, not one.
And Then…Even if you update the Five Points to reflect modern equipment and procedures, it is still not applicable in all situations, such as:
HAS IT SIMPLY ESCAPED...
...the notice of those who work at the major training agencies that about the only time you ever see an experienced diver with a "dorke...l" attached to his or her mask is when an instructor is teaching and is forced to do so by his or her training agency? How can anyone choose to teach for organizations so detached from reality?
A "DEVICE" DOES NOT...
...control your buoyancy. YOU do -- and you can only do so by understanding and using all five elements of buoyancy control. BC use is important, but it is only one of five equally important elements. Sadly, most newly certified divers aren't even aware of this.
We hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend. Mark your calendars for Friday April 24 starting at 5pm. No Fear Scuba and Blackbeard Scuba are teaming up to hold a "Scuba Tune Up" night. What are we tuning up? Your skills assembling your equipment. If it has been awhile since you last put your equipment together or maybe you have never felt comfortable, then plan on stopping by and we will show you how. Bring your own equipment or use ours. There is no need to be on a charter and embarrassed that you don't know how to assemble your own equipment. Or worse....endanger yourself by setting up your equipment incorrectly. We will be starting at 5pm on the 24th and there is NO CHARGE FOR THIS. We want you to be able to set up your equipment and be a safe diver. The tune up will be held at 609-B Piner Road in Wilmington NC. Any questions just Facebook us or give us a call. We look forward to seeing you then.