Dive Fatalities – The Role of Violations of Good Diving Practices

Written by Al Hornsby

As a dive professional, you’re well aware of the importance of following good diving practices during all dive activities. You teach this in courses, have students sign the Safe Diving Practices form and remind divers of safe procedures during dive activities. From all the attention given, you’d expect that respect for good practices – especially among experienced divers – would be so ingrained that the occurrence of deliberate “violations” leading to dive fatalities would be fairly unusual. Well, “expect” again.

Recent Research

A recent study, “Violations of Safe Diving Practices Among 122 Diving Fatalities,” published in International Maritime Health, carried out and written by Karl Shreeves, Peter Buzzacot, Al Hornsby and Mark Caney, investigated the relationship between intentional deviation from accepted diving practices and diver fatalities. The authors examined 119 incidents/122 diver fatalities in North America and the Caribbean, which did not involve diver training, and identified the presence of violations of accepted safe diving practices, as well as whether the deaths were associated with an acute medical event.

The results were very interesting in a number of ways. First, it was found that 57 percent of fatalities were associated with an acute medical event. Because a large segment of the existing diver population is aging, the incidence of medically related dive incidents has been steadily rising. In fact, it was determined that the odds of a death being associated with a medical condition increased approximately nine percent per year of age, or 2.4 times for every 10 years of age. The study delved as deeply as possible into the specific incident causes and discovered that medically related triggers might be even more frequent than previously assumed, as they might be masked by secondary impacts, such as drowning on the surface following a difficult-to-determine cardiac event.

The Most Interesting Finding

The most interesting finding was that 23 percent of medically related fatalities and 75 percent of nonmedical fatalities involved violations of safe diving practice. The sad aspect of this is it means most of these tragedies were possibly avoidable.

The medically related incident violations often involved diving against a doctor’s orders or with known conditions, such as existing cardiac problems. The nonmedical violation causes ran the gamut of simple, basic issues including:

  • Not doing a predive safety check before jumping in with an empty cylinder.
  • Having a regulator attached to the diluent cylinder.
  • Not doing a pre-breathe with a rebreather.
  • Diving deeper than one’s training or experience.
  • Diving solo or continuing to dive after buddy separation without being trained or experienced in solo diving.
  • Entering overhead environments without the proper training, -experience or equipment

Divers who died from something other than a medical cause were seven times as likely to have one or more violations associated with the fatality.

An Interesting Side-finding

One interesting side-finding, with -surprising frequency, involved this scenario:

It’s a lovely dive, buddies or a group are swimming along, everyone has plenty of air, and one diver calmly signals that he wants to go up. The buddy signals “Are you OK?” and the diver indicates OK, but just wants to go back to the boat. The buddy accompanies him to the surface and signals the boat, which begins heading over (or takes him to just under the boat), then heads back down to continue the dive. In the brief moments before the diver can climb the ladder, he is apparently disabled by a medical event, slumps forward into the water, adding drowning to the incident.

Not only does this complicate rescue efforts, but it appears that sometimes medical evaluation concludes drowning rather than a debilitating medical event as the cause (with unfortunate negative effects on the potential for – and the defense of – litigation).

Divers should be aware of this and consider that someone ending an otherwise normal, fun dive for no clear reason might be experiencing vague, but unclear, symptoms of a medical event. Perhaps a way to avoid the potential for these situations is simply to honor the buddy system, and if one buddy wants to end the dive, they stay together all the way back to the boat or shore.

Whether teaching or supervising, remind your divers that established, good dive practices – much like speed limits and seat belts – do prevent accidents and protect divers. It is not just words and formality to teach and remind divers of these critical skills and procedures. We are all helping to establish patterns of behavior that, as now empirically established, can prevent dive accidents from occurring.

A version of this article that originally appeared in the 4th Quarter 2018 edition of The Undersea Journal®.

PADI Travel Affiliate Program

The PADI organisation is committed to growing the scuba and freediving market, both by attracting new people to the sport and by motivating existing divers to dive more often. As you well know, travel has always been intrinsically linked to diving.  Our PADI Travel Affiliate Program has been designed to give our Dive Centres the ability to tap into this revenue driving market to support or enhance their current travel program.

How does the Travel Affiliate Program work?

The Affiliate Program is built on three key pillars:

  1. Group Trips & Charters: Get great rates, free spots, and free dive insurance for all divers on your group trip. We are also developing a marketplace so we can help fill your last open spots.
  2. Affiliate Commissions: Dive Centres can earn competitive commissions by selling PADI Travel holidays to divers or by simply referring them to us (online or offline).
  3. In-Store Sales: The PADI Travel Team will send divers who have booked a trip with PADI Travel a series of communications to drive them back to dive stores. Seize the opportunity to monetize them and increase your sales of equipment and courses.

With PADI being based in 183 countries, we can be sure to have a Liveaboard or Dive Resort in the area you or your customer is wanting to visit!

Getting Started

If you haven’t already, register your PADI Dive Centre as an Affiliate with PADI Travel at affiliates.padi.com.  This is completely free, costing you only a few minutes.  Once set up you will have the ability to advertise travel through PADI Travel and have the opportunity to receive commission for any bookings made.

If you should have any questions, or would like further information on this program please feel free to contact the PADI Travel team at affiliates@padi.com or your Regional Managers – Emma Hewitt emma.hewitt@padi.com or Emily Petley-Jones emily.petley-jones@padi.com.

Planning for the Unplanned

In February 2019, PADI hosted a UK Diving Safety event in Bristol. From the moment the event was announced, there was a real buzz around it, and justifiably so. With key presenters from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Health and Safety Executive, Diving Diseases Research Centre, British Diving Safety Group, Divers Alert Network, and PADI, the event brought together stalwarts of UK diving with a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with PADI Pros.

What was clear from the popularity of the event was the dedication from the PADI Pro community to do their utmost to promote safety for the divers they train. Whilst divers are always encouraged to “Plan the dive, then dive the plan”, the event brought into focus the consequences of what can happen when the unplanned happens.

A great starting place for PADI Pros in the UK to promote safety and planning for problems to their divers is to encourage them to complete the RNLI Diver Sea Survival Specialty . This specialty course launched in 2017, and covers lots of information pertinent to diving in the UK. The course is one which appeals to both beginners and professionals alike, including:

• New divers who certified overseas
• Dive professionals who have been working overseas, and would like a familiarisation of techniques for UK diving
• Divers looking to attend dive club trips to unfamiliar locations

If you are a PADI Instructor, you can download the PADI RNLI Diver Sea Survival Instructor Guide as well as the related course presentations from www.rnli.org/diveinstructor.

The RNLI Diver Sea Survival Course is a great way to promote diver safety awareness.

If you are working as part of a dive team, take time to review your “what if” procedures to ensure that your dive team are all clear on what your emergency protocols are. It is also a great time to get some in-water practice and scenarios for your staff. Consider running a staff training event where you practice different in-water scenarios. This would highlight areas for improvement in your plans. There is the opportunity in quieter months to also review your paperwork, including project plans and risk assessments to ensure they are up to date.

Why Egypt!

Egypt has 1682km (more than 1000 miles) shore on The Red Sea. The Red Sea is famous with the variety of beautiful dives that it can offer, along with the variety of species found in the Red Sea.

The Red Sea is one of the warmest in the world all year around by 2 C°. The Red Sea salinity is 4% higher than any other ocean. This is mainly because of the high rate of evaporation of the seawater (about 2 m per year), the little feed of fresh water into the sea through rainfall full with mineral comes from the volcanic mountains of the Red Sea Mountains and Lack of significant rivers or streams draining into the sea, as well as the limited connection with the Indian Ocean. The high salinity combined with the relatively warm seawater temperature is forming the ideal habitat for its very diverse, multiple and preserve coral and marine life.

Egypt is the home of some of the best dive sites in the world such is

The Thistlegorm Wreck, Ras Mohammed, Abu Nuhas Reef, Dahab Blue Hole, The Brothers, Elphinstone Reef, Marsa Alam Dolphin House, Abu Dabbab and Daedalus Reef

All the above along with all year around sunshine, beautiful skies, reasonable prices and only few hours flights away from Europe made Egypt one of the best destinations in the world for divers.

You won’t know what you missing until you dived the Red Sea.

 

PADI Santi Dry Suit Diver Distinctive Specialty launch exclusive for PADI Course Directors

Are you interested to get a new PADI Distinctive Specialty rating? Are you a PADI Course Director? If your answer is yes to both of those questions, we have great news for you!

Together with the leading drysuit manufactures we developed a new Distinctive Specialty – Santi Dry Suit Diver. It covers all the recent development in Santi dry suits, under suits and accessories and uses advanced teaching approach. It is exclusive for a PADI Course Directors. After successful completion of the program, you will get a rating of Distinctive Instructor Trainer for this new speciality.

Want to apply? Register HERE

The launch is designed as a 2-day program and will take place in Santi Headquarters in Gdynia, Poland. You will participate in standards and product presentations and workshops, demonstration of the manufacturing process and pool session to get familiar with course structure and specific skills.

  • Place: Santi HQ Gdynia, Poland
  • Time: 5th-6th March 2019 (arrival on 4th March, departure late evening at 6th)
  • Costs: we have a special offer for the launch event – contact us to get more details

Do you have more questions? Contact PADI Regional Manager – Michal Kosut michal.kosut@padi.com or +48 602 789 508

Want to apply? Register HERE


Something We All Need

In 2008, something happened to Leo Morales that most of us can’t even imagine – his leg was amputated to stop aggressive cancer. But what would be lifelong setback for some didn’t deter him. Already a passionate diver, Morales not only went back to diving, he became an instructor and a tec diver. Then he set two records (depth and distance) for divers with disabilities. Then he . . . well, he grew into an impressive and accomplished person by any standard: a PADI AmbassaDiver, Tedx presenter, author and inspiring mentor for hundreds – maybe thousands of people. Amazingly, Morales says that if he could change the past and keep his leg, that he would not. “Scuba diving gave me my life back,” he says. He actually took his life backusing scuba, leveraging it to do more and now gives back more than many would expect. Amazing.

It’s a moving story, but only one example that diving, beyond its force for healing the oceans, heals people – and there are more stories than you can count. Paraplegic at age 12 from transerve myelitis, after the discovering freedom and therapy scuba gave her, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver Cody Unser now uses scuba to help people living with paralysis, and participates in related research, through her First Step Foundation. Losing his legs in a combat zone, PADI Divemaster Chris Middleton, U.K. similarly found the healing power of scuba when he started diving with Deptherapy, and now works with Deptherapy to get more people involved.

And it’s not just physical healing. After serving in Iraq combat and discharged in 2014, US Marine Juan Gonzales had diagnosed Post Tramautic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It impeded having healthy connections with people – particularly his family – but discovered diving through WAVES (Wounded American Veterans Experience Scuba), which uses diving’s healing power to help veterans with physical or psychological wounds. Gonzales says the peace he experiences diving has been a major help in his battle with PTSD.

PADI Course Director Thomas Koch can’t hear, but with scuba, his “disability” turns into an advantage. Why? When his daughter Claire got her Junior Open Water Scuba Diver certification with PADI Course Director Cristina Zenato, they talked as fluently and as much as they always do – underwater, using American Sign Language.

There are hundreds of stories – miracles really – about how, through diving, people have helped, healed and comforted. There are literally hundreds of dive professionals and divers who serve divers with disabilities, and you bring honor and meaning to the dive community as a Force for Good.

But, the truth is, scuba’s healing power goes beyond this because everyone needs healing at times. The dynamics of life can often hurt. There are times when it feels like the weight of the world got dumped on your back. Maybe you can’t sleep and you’re not much fun to be around. Maybe the people you care about most don’t get to see your best, and yet they worry about you. And you see it in their eyes.

Then you go diving . . . and something wonderful happens. The worry world stays at the surface as you descend into the underwater world. Your mind clears. What’s really important can finally break through. Your buddy signals, “okay?” And for the first time in a long time, you really mean it when you reply, “okay!” Maybe it takes a couple of “doses” (dives), but you become you again. It reflects in the faces of those you care about.

My point is this. We share diving because it’s a wonderful experience that we’re passionate about, but we should also share it because it’s a restoring, healing experience. Some of us need it more than others, but that’s something we all need.

Wishing you the happiest New Year,

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

Dive-In Limassol Wins Travel and Hospitality AWARD

For the second time for outstanding customer service. Jonathan Wilson and his wife Deborah have been running the PADI 5 Star IDC Centre Dive-In Limassol in Cyprus, based in the 5 star Four Seasons Hotel, for many years. Their dedication to making diving fun and safe really shows… not only by this award, but in their glowing reviews over multiple customer driven platforms such as TripAdvisor and Google. As their PADI Regional Manager, this AWARD only goes to show that the PADI System is the one that the people choose, and Dive-In Limassol is the resort that people choose and love! It’s a proud moment for everyone involved and thus needs a public shout out to everyone involved.

 

Keep up the good work Johnathan and Dive-In Limassol team!

 

Get the Most out of Black Friday

Black Friday has grown in the public imagination over recent years – it is common to see retailers offering huge discounts for their goods on the 23rd November.

How does a small business capitalise on a big event like this?

Here at PADI we wanted to share some key ideas to help you make the most of Black Friday 2018.

  • Create a sense of urgency:

The buzz around Black Friday only works because the offers you make are unique. There are lots of excuses for extending the event (Cyber Monday has essentially become a way of offering things throughout the weekend) but be sure to limit yourself – if your customers can get the offer any time, they won’t feel an urgency to buy from you now.

  • Reward loyal customers:

Your marketing reach is probably going to be most effective at reaching your existing customer base. They’re the ones who have shopped from you before, and they are the ones most likely to recognise the benefits of your offers. PADI continuing education courses are best used for this.

  • Don’t just discount – upsell:

Simply reducing the cost of your courses on Black Friday is unlikely to truly benefit your business – you simply give away profit and end up working harder for less. Your best option is to encourage people to buy full price, and get something extra as a result as a reward.

  • “Buy two, get one free”:

This is a classic sales technique that is easily deployed. Your customers choose two items and get a third item free. You need to look carefully at your profit margin on the first two items to ensure that the offer works, however used correctly this is a great way to encourage customers to increase their average purchase price.

  • Keep It Simple:

Too many offers can be confusing for you, your staff and your customers. Pick a couple of attention grabbing headlines and use these to encourage consumers to your store. Even if they don’t take the offer in the end, you have a chance for them to see all the other products you have available.

So how might these offers look in real life? We’ve put together a few simple ideas that you could use in your store. You can use these are they are, or you could use them as inspiration to then make your own offers:

The Upsell:

Target your Rescue Divers from the last two years and offer them a free gift if they register for a Divemaster course with you during Black Friday. They should be required to pay a deposit on the course over the weekend in order to secure the offer. You need to ensure that the price of the course includes enough profit to cover the cost of the gift.

Example advert: Change your life and become a PADI Pro by completing your PADI Divemaster course with ABC Dive centre – BLACK FRIDAY OFFER! Register for your Divemaster course during Black Friday by paying a deposit and receive a PADI towel valued at £35 completely free of charge!

The Buy Two Get One Free:

Target your Advanced Open Water Divers and offer them a free Oxygen Administration course when they register for their EFR and Rescue Diver course. O2 is an easy course to add one, with minimal extra time commitment, and a high perceive value

Example advert: Serious Fun! Become a PADI Rescue Diver today! BLACK FRIDAY OFFER! Register for your EFR and Rescue Diver course during Black Friday, and complete your PADI Emergency Oxygen Administrator Specialty complete free of charge!

The Customer reward / sense of urgency:

Target your Open Water Divers and offer them a reduced price on a Specialty course if they sign up within a certain time-frame:

Example advert: Thank you from ABC Dive Centre – BLACK FRIDAY OFFER! As a thanks to our loyal customers, we are offering a 10% discount on Dry Suit Specialties to everyone who has trained as an Open Water Diver with us during 2018. Limited spaces available – contact the store on Black Friday to book your training now!

 Business advice is available to all PADI Dive Centre owners – if you’d like ideas and support for promotions during Black Friday, contact your Regional Manager (Emma.Hewitt@padi.com or Matt.Clements@padi.com) today!

Responders in Action

Emergency First Response would like to congratulate Rob Mackean (PADI IDC Staff Instructor # 289793) for providing much needed assistance when called upon.

Rob was in the water when he saw another diver come to the surface face down. Rob immediately swam to the diver, saw that he was not breathing, and provided rescue breaths while signalling for help and towing the diver to the shore. The diver was revived and began breathing of his own accord. He was kept in hospital overnight and then released, returning to work a few days later!

Thank you, Rob – this diver was fortunate that you spotted the emergency and responded in such an effective manner; well done!

How Cold is Too Cold?

Written by DAN Staff

Whether you use a dry suit, a thick wet suit and/or warm thoughts to stay warm in cool water, it’s important to know how cold is too cold. Diving on a blustery winter morning can be fun, but pushing your body and your exposure protection to their limits can lead to serious consequences. Help your new divers and customers avoid putting themselves in harm’s way with guidance about how to stay comfortable underwater.

Letting one’s core temperature drop too low, leading to hypothermia or a near-hypothermic state, can affect dexterity, decision-making and the body’s ability to offgas. Because one of the first symptoms of serious hypothermia is diminished awareness, many individuals fail to recognize the symptoms until another diver draws attention to them. Know what to look for in yourself and your students to reduce the risk of mild hypothermia escalating into a life-threatening issue.

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a drop in core body temperature. It can obviously occur in the arctic, but can also happen in warm tropical waters if divers have inadequate exposure protection and a long enough exposure. The condition is of particular concern for people lost at sea and those diving in extreme conditions.

A typical adult maintains a core body temperature of about 37°C/98.6°F. When this core temperature drops below 35°C/95°F, hypothermia begins to set in, and the body’s function begins to be impaired. To keep the vital organs warm, the body will shunt blood to the core. The initial symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, loss of coordination, dizziness, nausea and feelings of hunger. If the core temperature is allowed to continue dropping, at 30°C/86°F many people will stop shivering and their pupils will dilate. At 27.8°C/82°F, muscles become rigid and a serious risk of cardiac complications arises. These symptoms worsen as the core temperature drops, so it’s vital that people suffering from hypothermia are taken to qualified medical care as rapidly as possible.

Learn to Beat the Cold

Hypothermia can be serious, but it’s not something a well-prepared diver should have to contend with in all but the most extreme situations. Plan ahead with appropriate exposure protection, heat sources and a well thought-out emergency action plan if things get a little too chilly. Bring hot water to make a warm drink or warm water to pour into your wet suit between dives to make yourself more comfortable on a day that’s more winter wonderland than diver’s paradise outside. If you or a student begins shivering, terminate the dive in a safe manner and take time to warm up. Consider whether anyone who was shivering will be warm enough for another dive. If not, come back on a warmer day – there’s no sense in putting anyone at risk.