Sunday, May 28, 2017

Response to Cave Diver Harry's Facebook Post, "You may have noticed a couple things"

• While I’m often critical of certain common teaching practices that can have an adverse effect on the environment or diver enjoyment, I seldom (if ever) label a particular teaching methodology as “unsafe.”

That being said, it begs the question, "Are a preponderance of divers that are seen in these videos FROM a 'certain' agency?" If so, why does this correlation exist?

• I also never comment on actual incidents that may have resulted in diver injury or fatality.

As social animals, it is inevitable we want to know what happened and why... we slow down on the highway to rubberneck all the time. As far as the number of fatalities, while scuba is dangerous, so is: rock climbing, bungee jumping, hang gliding, skiing, auto racing, bicycling, football, horseback riding, polo... Zero fatalities would be great, but that is unrealistic.

There is something to be said about "accident analysis" that can be used to help us not make the same mistakes we did before. Accident analysis was part of my cave training and I find it an invaluable tool in all fields, not just scuba. We think we won't make the same mistakes we did before, they did, or make the mistakes poorly trained divers make. This is called "hindsight bias." Because we saw, read, heard about that kind of accident/fatality that we won't repeat it because we know about it, but it continues to happen...

• Why is that? It’s because our friends in the legal profession regularly cruise social media looking for ammunition they can use when suing dive instructors. And we are all paying for it.

I think the industry's insurance is expensive because insurace companies want to make mconey. To that extent, if instructors stop doing stupid shit, if fatalities fell into the category of freak accident, then scuba liability insurance might not be as expensive as it should be.

As I write in one of my blogs, I think that families pursuing financial compensation to activities their loved ones entered willingly is wrong as well. I've made it perfectly clear that in the event of my death while diving, no one should pursue legal actions. I fully accept the risks involved, I even understand that a few out there might even cut corners, however, I have done my due dilligence, I have made educated decisions, and I chose to go diving! If I die diving, I ONLY want to be remembered for the things I contributed to scuba, not the one mistake I made.

• I just got my bill for liability insurance for the coming year. As expected, it is going to be in excess of US$1,000. And even though this is nearly twice what I was paying just a few years ago, I’m not complaining. I’m just happy to be able to get it at all.

I think mine has doubled in the last 10 years too, however my automobile insurance has always gone up and I have no tickets, accidents, or claims. It is the cost I have to pay to drive.

Similarly, when I did my crossover from SSI to NAUI, my course director went over the costs of being an instructor. I never got that at SSI. If the instructor doesn't make a business plan setting dollars aside for unforseen repairs, annual dues, liability insurance, program supplies, to what extent do they expect to remain in business? Some do a better job of running a business as a business, while others insist on teaching for free or close to it. I will make money teaching scuba. I will not do it for free!

• The number of carriers willing to insure diver training have been steadily declining. It wouldn’t take much for it to simply become unavailable. If that happens, few of us are likely to be willing to teach scuba when the cost of doing so could be everything we own and everything we are likely to make for the balance of our lives.

If the insurance industry left us, wouldn't it be prudent for the certifying agents to create their own form of safeguards against potential damages? Perhaps union style dues? That money to be set aside like insurance monies are? Maybe even partner with everyone in the industry to work on legislation to cap claims on financial awards? We have attornies creating the liability releases... What is the purpose of those?

• So, by all means, keep posting about how “unsafe” you think certain instructors, dive operations or training agencies are. Keep playing armchair quarterback, passing judgement on recent fatalities about which you actually know very little.

That does make for an interesting dilemma. I don't recall industries evaporating because of people's opinions but I have seen how reviews from sites like yelp have impacted individual businesses... I see reviews two different ways. Are merchants providing the services the consumers are looking for which warrant only 5-Star reviews? Bringing to the industry and emphasizing what the consumer can expect... or, are the reviews a reflection of what has already happened in the industry -- the merchants have disenfranchised the consumer with expectations beyond what can actually be delivered? -- that everyone can become a diver this weekend.

Reviews also don't seem to turn the consumer away when others warm them of certain business practices. In all, I believe the relationships people develop with each other will be the greatest hedge against frivolous law suits. Integrity, trust, accountability, and respect are earned -- NOT GIVEN!

• It doesn’t matter that, in so doing, you may be contributing to the end of diver training as we know it. Because, when that happens, people will just teach themselves by watching videos like this on You Tube.

Perhaps, however mentors, artisans, masters, and the exceptionally skilled have always been sought out even when cultures might be moving in a different direction. The Socratic Method is a great way to teach and to learn.  I do have to say, I don't find a plethora of videos showing and criticizing GUE, IANTD, NSS-CDS, NAUI, TDI, BSAC, or even YMCA... I believe there is a reason for it.

Today's culture has strongly moved towards the inclusion of "everyone." In the workplace, education, social dynamics, and religion, I think this is a good thing. But, to include everyone in scuba is wrong. The primary reason is that many can't do it well enough to not hurt themselves. Sorry, but if it is likely you are going to kill yourself or others undergoing an activity, you should not do it and if your feelings are hurt when you don't get that c-card, too bad. I will not award anyone a certification card just because they paid for training.

Thank you for the continued perspectives, Harry!

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