Justin Theroux suffered scuba diving scare during honeymoon
There is a practice in the scuba diving industry called, "Resort Diving," "Try Scuba," or "Scuba Experience." When you go to a destination that offers many types of activities, scuba diving is often available. For those that are already certified, it is a great opportunity to see the underwater sites as part of the overall experience. However, for the untrained, it can be a game of Russian Roulette. While some might think that I am over-exaggerating, I believe that any activity that takes years to master, regular and ongoing practice, and is an incredibly equipment intensive is NOT the activity to just try out and see if you like it. Furthermore, to cut your training short, into a couple hours of do's and don'ts is like asking an office physician to take out your appendix after watching a YouTube video. If you are going to try it out, do it in the pool. Don't be mistaken, even the pool is a dangerous place to be for the untrained student, but to go out into the open ocean, in my opinion is just not a good idea.
As a scuba diving instructor myself, I made a decision a long time ago, that "try scuba's" will always be done in the pool or in open water I can stand in. It only takes a moment to get into trouble and to have to rely on someone else to fix the problem can often mean that someone could get hurt. A scuba diving instructor invests thousands of dollars,(if not more) in their training and takes years to develop situational awareness, be competent in the execution of their skills (including rescue skills), and last but not least they dive a lot. Even with ongoing education and regular practice, good instructors get hurt and sometimes die.
While it's not necessary to break apart every line of the event or in the article, identifying how much was missing from Justin's training and his understanding of what he got himself into will illustrate what I'm referring to. In the end, you make the decision. In the end, he was incredibly lucky!
“I went scuba diving and you get a little training course, where you go down about 10 feet and you see coral and little fish,” Justin explains.
Before any training session, the students signs a plethora of forms including a liability release. While these releases are written by lawyers to minimize the risk to the operator, one thing is clearly spelled out. Scuba diving is dangerous and has risk. The only way risk can be managed is with proper training and practice. Even with training and practice, injury and death can occur. My program starts with the student reading a workbook. Within this workbook are questions that have to be answered before moving onto the next chapter. It's impossible to say how long it should take for the student to get through the material, but if they sat down and didn't stop until it's completion, I would expect it would take 8-12 hours. Introducing breaks will only extend the time it takes. My education system also includes a DVD. Watching the DVD will take several hours to complete as it is interactive. Lastly there is an online course. Similarly, I would give the student an 8-12 hour window to complete this. Now comes the fun part, my review and final exam. My review includes an overview, but is also interactive where I expand upon the concepts that the student learned on their own in order for them to be able to see the correlation of what they learned to what they will do. At minimum, it will take 4-6 hours to complete this. After the education, is confined water training (what we refer to as the pool). While there is not a lot of skills that the beginning diver has to learn, it is realistic to believe that the introduction of new equipment, breathing underwater, utilization of the equipment, the skills, safety drills and exercises should take 4-6 hours at minimum. Additionally, that is ONLY if there is one student in the pool and they are incredibly comfortable, confident, and are able to demonstrate the skills back to me where I feel they are ready to (then and only then) go to the ocean. Finally, at least 4 open water certification dives over a two day period are conducted. As a new diver, training dives or "cert dives" could be 30-45 minutes long, but usually lean toward the lesser. By the end of the two days of diving, the newly certified diver might have 2-4 hours of open water training. At this point, I consider the student adequate. Adequate means that they have the skills and tools necessary to start diving "autonomously" (with a dive buddy, but without the instructor). The proverbial umbilical cord has been cut and now they are on their own. So, as you can see, I haven't even started, and it is evident that Justin is over his head.
“I thought, ‘That’s great, I’ll do it again’.”
This is when Justin should have decided to get fully certified. Going through three full days of training (minimum) on one's honeymoon is usually the last thing one wants to do, so the course would have normally been completed in advance. Going on another "experience" increases the likelihood of injury and does not add to the diver's skill or abilities as their was no training. What they accomplished on the first experience is not indicative of how every other experience will be. There is no further training while the amount of time underwater is becoming larger.
"...but he had a bad feeling at the start of the dive after discovering their French guide spoke hardly any English and took little notice of the fact Justin was a novice."
Trained scuba divers learn that anyone can, "call the dive!" This means that at anytime if any diver is done, feels uncomfortable, or just wants to end the dive, "WE" end the dive. Jumping in the water with a guide and following them with little ability to communicate means that if one wants to end the dive, they have to leave the safety of the instructor and ascend on their own. If it's hard enough to understand someone underwater with a limited amount of hand signals that have to be clearly understood, having a guide that doesn't speak your language is not even on the scale of bad to worse.
So he puts the [oxygen] tank on me and someone had just used my tank before me, and I went down… I look at my [oxygen indicator] and it’s on red, basically.
The scuba diver, from the beginning of my program, during confined water training, and regularly and often during certification dives is trained to understand that the only way to make sure that the equipment they are using is assembled appropriately, is to do it themselves. The student that relies on someone else to "pack their chute" and then proceeds to leave the surface where an unlimited supply of air exists, MUST understand the concept of "gas management." Gas management is not just checking your submersible pressure gauge (SPG) to see how much air is left in the cylinder, but knowing that the cylinder you just connected to your other equipment is not full. Starting a dive with a tank less than full is not just a red flag, but screaming sirens blaring "YOU'RE GOING TO RUN OUT OF AIR." No one starts driving through the desert without making sure they have a full tank of gasoline! Having an SPG in and of itself does not guarantee that one will never run out of air either. Like with all equipment that one has never seen and nor used before, how to use it, and in this case, what the information on the SPG is telling you when you look at it is as important. If a diver starts their dive and the SPG reads 2,500psi, one should expect that after a short period of time, that number would be lower. If it is not, this indicates a failure in the SPG, and without proper training to understand this concept, it is likely that one of two things are going to happen. One, the diver is going to tell someone (like Justin did) or Two, ignore it. Given the odds, 50%: do nothing and 50%: tell someone, it is a 50% chance of running out of air! Those are unacceptable odds! It doesn't matter that Justin made the right decision, he could have easily made the wrong decision. He only had two choices. The experienced diver has more options and thus lowers the risk of running out of air to what is considered an acceptable and manageable risk for scuba diving.
“We’re going around and we’re going really deep…
How deep is deep? I don't know about you, but taking a large mouthful of water at 3 feet is the same as 300 feet. I don't know too many that would tell me that 3 feet is deep, but I know that everyone would make sure their child is supervised in 3 feet of water if not 3 inches of water! So, depth is subjective. What is important is understanding how much air is required to get to the surface. When other factors are put into play, just getting to the surface is not as straight forward as everyone thinks. The surface is a boundary between the air and the water. Believe it or not, the surface is the worst place for a diver to be. Scuba diving is done under the water. While under the water, your equipment is on, being used, and rarely ever does the second stage primary regulator (the part of the equipment that is in your mouth delivering air to you) come out of your mouth. Inexperienced divers sometimes get to the surface and fail to obtain positive buoyancy and start to remove their gear. YES! The inexperienced diver gets to the surface where there is an unlimited amount of air and drops below the surface where there is none because the equipment they are wearing is designed exactly for that purpose. While the equipment has the ability to keep the diver on the surface, it does not do this on its own and if the inexperienced diver sometimes fails to obtain positive buoyancy, what do you think is going to happen to the untrained diver?
“I just wanna go up…,” he remembers. “I go to my friend and I’m like [indicating with eyes], ‘Look’, and he’s like, ‘Oh my God, you’re about to die…!’ It’s just sheer panic in my eyeballs!”
Good training cannot prevent all accidents, but good training can help to minimize risk and help to resolve issues where and when they happen (underwater and while diving). Going to the surface is not the only option.
The actor finally managed to convey his panic to the instructor, who provided him with an emergency oxygen mask, but the switch was far from smooth.
Even divers that have received their certification rarely practice "out of air" (OOA) emergencies, "air sharing ascents" and/or emergency swimming ascents. Why? Well... Why don't people practice fire drills at home? Why don't people take CPR and First Aid courses? Why don't people with children have the phone number to the Poison Control Hotline programmed into their phones? These are all valid questions but I think we all know the answers. "That takes work..." "I'll do it next time..." "I'm too busy..." "I forgot..." Everything else that is important takes priority and gets pushed to the top of the list. Scuba diving instructors are fortunate just by the fact that by default they get to practice their skills every time they teach a new student.
“I can’t just swim up to the top because I don’t wanna get the bends (decompression sickness), so he pulls the respirator (sic) out, puts it in my mouth, hits this ‘clear’ button which sends all these bubbles out, sends water down my throat, so now I’m coughing and hacking under water, which is not a great feeling…,” Theroux added.
Decompression sickness is caused by nitrogen. When nitrogen comes out of solution (your blood), if those bubbles go to places they are not suppose to, an injury may result (they are supposed to be exhaled). Depending on where those bubbles go, the resulting injury will vary. Just ascending does not cause decompression sickness. Even just ascending too fast does not cause decompression sickness. Failing to have this understanding means that it is likely that Justin could ascend slowly and ignore signs and symptoms that could appear hours after being out of the water. Failing to get proper treatment could result in permanent injury or death. Justin would not have learned about decompression sickness to the extend that a fully trained diver would.
So what does this all mean?
What do you think...