Random Jottings

Terrible outcome but where does 'blame' lie?

Oh my goodness, I am going to be shot-down here..... so firstly be sure that my heart goes out to the people impacted by dive injuries and fataliaties, I know from first hand experience having being medivac'd out of a boat just how stressful it is and yes I survived with some long term effects but nothing you would notice if we met.

Firstly let's be brutally honest diving, especially what is referred to as 'technical diving' is a damn dangerous hobby, looking at industry figues it is sits only behind climbing at altitudes of 10,000 feet as a pastime that will cause death and injury, oh and this figure is for all diving, if you enter the technical arena you will probably be asked by your insurer to have a new hobby such as Himilayan climbing. Most general insurance policies will only cover diving to 30m and if you plan to go deeper or have multiple dives then you need to approach a specialist company and the policies are not cheap.

Secondly, technical diving what is it? I always argue that any dive is technical insofar as you must be aware of decompression obligation and the impact of using a particular nitrox mix, but a more generally accepted description would be any dive including exotic gas mixes or more than one gas mix to use over a staged decompression schedule. Once your a using a rebreather and carrying multiple bailout tanks....that's as tech as it gets!

The list of technical diving experts and pioneers that have died in water is long and contains many industy famous names, Sheck Exley who was arguably the greatest cave/deep diver of all time, John Ormsby, Richard Roost who was nicknamed 'The Scuba God'. It is a long list and makes you question your reasons, preparation and sanity when you are kitting up.

I remember the case in question, see the link below, when it was first reported and must admit that my initial reaction was that as a diver you make decisions about your own fitness to dive and the 'cost' of the dive really shouldn't come into the equation, any issues sit it out.


It appears that the guy had taken more than a bit of a tumble, which isn't unusual and with adrenaline pumping got up and kept on going until, as is usual, a short while later the aching starts. Unfortuately in this case it was more than bumps and bruises and included some damn serious internal injuries which of course meant that the guy pulled the dive and was subject to some form of DCS in his desire to get out and seek medical attention. There are conflicting reports as to the exact cause of death but I hope that what can be seen is that a single event, the fall, eventually snowballed into a situation where there were worsening injuries, a relatively rapid ascent and ultimately death, a sad and terrible event.

But blame, I have been diving for years and loads of guys who I have dived with like to say that I always want to 'control the situation' and that's the crux, it has to be your choice and your informed decision to act in a fashion where you are comfortable that you will get home on your feet. I am not really convinced that the dive operator has any blame, if the injuries were internal with no sign of blood either from a head injury or 'spitting it' and the guy can still walk carrying all of that kit, which would indicate that there are no bones broken then should the skipper or crew 'force him' to call the dive?

There is an ongoing case where the family of Rob Stewart, he of 'Sharkwater' fame are taking legal action against his dive buddy/instructor and the charter company with whom he was diving. Looking at this case, as I have already written, it is apparent that he was diving outside of his skill set and not really following the basics...........

Number one rule: on the surface you must have positive buoyancy so if anything happens you float, it did, he didn't, a tragic diver error!

Oh and the other potentially contributory factor is that it is reported he was returning from his third, yup third, seventy, yup seventy meter dive of the day! Sorry but if true that is madness and again on bald facts a choice made by the diver to try and accelerate their logged dives to be deemed competent to move to the next level of training.

To digress unfortunaltely this accelerated training isn't unusual with some outfilts advertising that they can take you fom never dived to instructor in a month, so again multiple dives per day at the same venue in the same warm and clear water conditions and ta-dah you are an instructor with a shiny card able to take employment instructing people to dive in the cold and dirty north sea, thanks for the madness PADI!

So stay within your limits and dive safe................


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