Monday, October 22, 2018

Scuba Equipment Rental for Recreational and Technical Diving Now Available


Do you need scuba diving equipment for an upcoming class, trip, or a dive weekend. Rental equipment is available for all students and divers including hard to find sizes! The entire rental cost for open water or recreational specialties is only $65 when diving in a wetsuit for and $115 when diving in a drysuit. Technical courses or specialties are priced according to specific items that are rented. If I don't have what you're looking for or need, just ask. I'll try to get it for you. Equipment is usually delivered to the student at their certification dive location, however I can come to you for sizing and fitting if you're not one of my students. Please call 503-935-2698 for details.






#scuba #scubadiving #scubarentals #scubaequipment




Friday, September 7, 2018

Do we drown or rocket to the surface? A review of a podcast by Beth Rose and Rich Osborn on the BBC

Podcast (audio): https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06cg2gv


'Do we drown or rocket to the surface?'

Ouch: Disability Talk


Rich Osborn had the perfect summer job as a scuba diving instructor in Cyprus - but it would become a job which led to him becoming paraplegic.

On a day off, the then 21-year-old and three instructor friends decided to go for a carefully planned deep-dive.

At 40m under the ocean's surface the group ran out of air.

With nothing left in the tanks they had a decision to make - drown there and then, or rocket to the surface and risk catastrophic injuries from the [bends].


Presented by Beth Rose with Rich Osborn

Full Transcript (written): https://www.bbc.com/news/disability-44811673

I'm only going to review the point where everyone ran out of air... the planning that failed all four of them.

Beth Rose interviews Rich Osborn his time as, "a perfect summer as a scuba diving instructor in Cypress when he was 21." 

There's a lot of great things about being a scuba diving instructor but the "dream job" or the "dream summer job" is not like a swim in the shallow end of the pool. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching and I love diving, but there's a lot of responsibility that comes with teaching people to scuba dive not to mention just taking divers on "tours." There are several things that bother me about the cavalier attitude of these guys. It perpetuates cutting corners during training. I've seen it first hand. When classes are large, the only way to get everyone done at the same time is to accept the outcomes (abilities) from everyone as being the same. 

Additionally, diving beyond the scope of one's training and ability is abundant in the industry. PADI certifies divers to 60ft and only in conditions from which the divers were trained in. That means that one doesn't dive deeper than 60ft without additional training and it also means that divers that earned their certification at tropical destinations are not prepared for cold water, low-visibility dives. Some agencies and instructors also lead divers to believe they are more qualified than they really are. In particular, labels like "advanced diver" or "rescue diver" categorize ability and experience where none exists. 

Until a diver takes technical or professional courses, ALL courses are "recreational." All classes are recreational and leisure at one's dive destination. Recreational dive limits mean no in-water decompression obligations, no penetration dives or overhead environments and not diving beyond the scope of the training you received and regularly practiced. If a diver takes years away from diving, skills will degrade.


BETH - "...but his summer came to an abrupt nightmarish end when during a deep dive with three friends their oxygen ran out. The group had a decision to make: drown there and then or rocket to the surface and face the consequences of the bends."

The water can be a really bad place to make split decisions. In fact, even when one makes the best decision at that particular moment the outcome might not be as desired. Similarly, one can do everything wrong while nothing bad happens. Beth's description of the position Rich was in was real although somewhat exaggerated. Drowning is the last thing on the diver's list and it is not a dichotomy of "rocket to the surface" or "drowning". There is a large spectrum between what you can do and decompression sickness is not a result of a fast ascent, but can be the outcome of one. As we'll hear later on in the podcast, Rich was the only one that was injured. 

One must be ready at anytime to perform: air sharing ascent; buddy breathing ascent; emergency swimming ascent; emergency buoyant ascent; and emergency buoyant ascent while orally exhaling into the BCD. Ironically, PADI instructors teach a lesson called the CESA, Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent and as I've talked about before, it's very often taught to never be practiced due to potential injury. Nevertheless, even when it's utilized, it's often done in a manner that is unrealistic and more often unsuccessful. Getting to the surface is the next place you'll be taking your next breath. You have to know how you'll get there, what you'll do when you arrive there, and especially what to do if others don't make it back up with you.

Rich reports that he learned how to dive when he was 14 and took his instructor examination when he was 18. Many divers do make a quick transition into the professional side of scuba especially if they have an opportunity to make some money doing it. The interesting part about young instructors is not their ability to perform the skills and tasks necessary to scuba dive or teach others to dive, it's that most 18 year-old's don't make good decisions. Partner dangerous activities to an immature attitude, limited experiences and poor decision making, and scuba diving becomes a lot more dangerous than it should be. 

Scuba diving has risk, but reducing the risk is the goal of every diver not just instructors. As Rich found out, while most dives are a balance between risk and reward, death is NOT the worst thing that can happen. Rich's attitude about life with a spinal cord injury after the fact and how he lives with it are also not typical for most teens or young adults if not most adults. He reports that he still has a "fire for outdoor activities" including for scuba diving. The ability to play the cards we are dealt is a difficult ability to master. In this regard, his injurious outcome has only become a speed bump in the highway of his life -- unfortunately not typical.

As Beth continues to interview Rich, he describes teaching pool sessions, "confined water, so you can practice it in a safe environment" and the open water sessions, "so practicing the skills you learned in the safe environment in an open water environment." 

These statements seem like there is a emphasis on safety after the fact and that safety is a tenet of what is always practiced. A couple of things stand out in PADI's culture, particularly. One such leader in the diving industry, Bret Gilliam found, "...that no effective attempt is made within some agencies to interdict and restrict instructors who consistently breach standards that lead to unacceptable accident records." This is the phenomenon called, "Just Culture." Just culture is a practice in which front-line operators and others are not punished for actions, omissions or decisions taken by them which are commensurate with their experience and training, but where gross negligence, willful violations and destructive acts are not tolerated. Interestingly, when nothing happens over the course of one's career, another phenomenon occurs, "Normalization of Deviance." Normalization of deviance is defined as, "The gradual process through which unacceptable practice or standards become acceptable. As the deviant behavior is repeated without catastrophic results, it becomes the social norm for the organization." Nothing bad has ever happened before, so why will it happen this time...?

Herein lies the problem when education is inadequate. If you learn by poorly written material and have an instructor that only follows the materials provided, it's hard to recall that material when you need it. I call that process "teaching to the lowest common denominator." Why devote extra time and energy if only one or two in the group are going to benefit from it or continue with it. Programs that only teach the minimum and only emphasize getting a passing score on tests or in recollection are prone to losing those students. So much so that skills can never be correlated to test scores. Students that pass a test with 80% also mean that they didn't pass 20% of it. What 20% did you miss? Why would someone want to miss 20% of a program that is designed to train in skills necessary to reduce risk and injury and can result in death? Not only is that contrary to risk reduction, but the review of what was missed is often followed by blank stares or glazed looks while the student nods their head in agreement when wrong answers are being reviewed. Sometimes the instructors aren't well versed in the materials either. When this happens, throwing it over your shoulder or under the rug happens. "PADI doesn't put a lot of emphasis on that," I've heard. Or, "Once you're certified, no one remembers that stuff anyway." Students that understand the material get the correct answers on tests. If the goal is comprehension, missing anything is inappropriate.

Scuba diving already has an incredibly high dropout rate. Divers will also take years off between dives and feel that a couple of hours of remediation in the pool will make up for years of lost experience. There isn't a substitute for ongoing training. That doesn't mean that practice makes perfect... people make mistakes, however, practice makes permanence! Surgeons that don't perform surgeries regularly are not on my list of surgeons to perform my operations. The last thing I ever want to hear is, "I've haven't done this operation in three years but I watched it done on a YouTube video and feel like I got it!"


BETH - "So, you were obviously having a great summer, and then one day something a bit unusual happened. Tell me what happened," says Beth. 
I understand that this is an interview and Beth is facilitating the interview to move in a fluid and forward motion so the podcast is successful. It's possible that the English connotation and expression interprets differently than an American one. However, I believe that listeners (English, American and others) are tuning in to find out what happened and why. Going on a scuba dive is not unusual for scuba divers, but doing anything and it resulting in being paralyzed from the waist down, is definitely unusual! 

Rich accounts the dive and the day of the accident. 

Here are the bullet points:

  • it was their day off so Rich and a couple of others he works with (turns out to be three) are going to go diving
  • tells Beth, "they were all dive professionals"
  • someone said, "let's try this"
  • they wanted to go a little bit deeper than normally
  • everyone was trained in deep diving and "stuff like that"
  • Rich admits that being young, "you kind of want to push the limits a little bit"
  • BETH - "How deep are we talking?" RICH - "So, about 40 metres or so."
  • Rich states that 30 meters is like the usual depth in recreational scuba diving
  • additionally mentioning that at 40 meters, "you need to be deep dive trained for that"
  • Rich states, "we all planned thoroughly before the dive"
  • RICH - "But what happened was a disparity between what was planned in terms of breathing rates and what actually happened on the dive. So, a couple of people ran out of air before they'd planned to run out of air, if you know what I mean."
  • BETH - So, it was a surprise was it? RICH - "Yeah, it was an absolute surprise."


This description reminds me of the meme that shows a guy saying to his buddy, "Hold my beer. Watch this." 


I would also settle for a slap to the forehead https://youtu.be/_GP5_NQ_LEs or a Picard face-palm...




Four divers are going on a dive together. They were all together so I'm not sure how gas management escaped all of them. I teach students that running out of air is a misconception, but I guess these guys had to prove this theory inaccurate. I tell my students that nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to run out of air, BUT these four guys did! It seems improbable, but they actually did it... Wow! I wonder what the odds are that four divers would enter the water together and that each of them would run out of air? Rich called everyone "dive professionals." The definitions of "professionals" are all over the board so I don't know which one to take, but I'll go with the way I define it, "A person that follows standards and guidelines set by the greater community in a paid capacity and is expected to perform at the highest level aptitude and integrity."

It'd be fair to say that they didn't approach this day as dive professionals. As far as professional attitudes, I'm not sure that was there either. Interestingly, I'm sometimes told that I have to let bad divers make their own mistakes but there is a harsh reality that comes with that philosophy. I think it's important to speak up. Being sure to say something when another is making (or going to make) a bad decision, especially when scuba diving is involved, is just being compassionate -- and as far as professional, I'm always an instructor. Scuba divers are a group of individuals that share this great activity in common; a group of people that make up a community. Communities have a responsibility to watch out for each other. We might even belong to many communities. Imagine what the world would be like if someone in the communities we belonged to always had our back. Now, put that in an activity that is inherently dangerous -- it's a win-win-win-win, Rich...!!! If you'd like to see how numerous failures on a dive boat lead two down to 149ft and if somebody didn't eventually do something, they would have not made it back, watch this video: https://youtu.be/1LyocSGiXdU 

40 meters (130ft) is a long way down, but the depth itself is not any more dangerous than 4 meters (13ft). Deep dives require specialized training and definitely the right attitude. Thorough planning DID NOT happen in this case and here's why. Rich put is quite eloquently when he said there was, "...a disparity between what was planned in terms of breathing rates and what actually happened on the dive." Even with proper planning, gas management only works when the plan has considered all the things that can go wrong. Let's run through a rudimentary dive plan and see if that matches up to what happened.

I use V-Planner, dive software, when planning dives (especially deep dives). If the parameters of the dive change, like less time at depth or a shallower maximum depth, that will only give more of a cushion to fall back on if needed. This example will only be hypothetical as there are several factors we just don't know. The primary ones are everyone's "Respiratory Minute Volume" or RMV and "Surface Air Consumption" or SAC rate. Additionally, we don't know if they have any special considerations that can effect RMV/SAC (like health issues) and dive conditions (current, visibility, equipment, emotional, physiological, or environmental factors). It seems like all of them where young and probably healthy. If we go with these assumption then their numbers might be a little lower. 

The assumptions of the plan I created are below. I picked a dive plan in V-Planner that would closely resemble a 130ft dive with a 3-5 minute safety stop between 20ft and 10ft and an average diver's air consumption with an average dive computer with an average conservancy (whatever average means). The math is also below. And remember, this is a RECREATIONAL DIVE...!!!  If you'd like to calculate your own, you can use my RMV/SAC calculator by following this link: https://jcaelitescuba.com/rmv-sac/calc.htm





Dive# 1,  VPM-B  +2
Depth = 130ft
Profile = Square
Elevation = 0ft
CNS = 4%
OTU's = 11
Gas = 21% = 51cuft required
Gas density = 5.9g/l
Decozone start = 69ft
SAC = 0.80cuft/min
Ascent/Descent rate = 30ft/min
Cylinder = Aluminum 80 (77.4cuft)

Descent/Ascent
(130ft) / (30ft/min) = 4.33 minutes

Atmospheres Absolute
(130ft) / (33ft) = 3.93atm + 1atm = 4.93ata

Rule of Thirds
51cuft / 2 = 25.5cuft x 3 = 76.5cuft

Baseline
77.4 / 3000 = 0.0258

.0258 * 500psi = 12.9cuft
10.82cuft / .0258 = 419psi required to get to surface -- ROCK BOTTOM PSI


Schedule
------ Time     Depth     Notes (below)
start 0:00        0        1)
descent to bottom 4:20        130     2)
stay at bottom 6:40        130     3)
ascent to safety stop       3:50        15       4)
safety stop 3:00         15       5)
ascent to surface 0:30         0        6)


So, how deep is 130ft? It's somewhat rhetorical, but it really isn't that straight-forward. Let's look at it this way. 130ft of water is above your head and you have to swim back to the surface. That is a long way up. Additionally, 130ft is a 4 minute and 20 second descent and ascent at 30ft/min. 130ft is also 4.9 atmospheres absolute and that means breathing about five times the amount of air at that depth. You remembered to add the atmosphere above the water into your calculations, right? 

1) Before you get into the water, do you know how much gas you need to do the dive? Let's figure out what we need following the "rule of thirds". 51cuft of air is going to be required (see above). That's the descent; 6 minutes and 40 seconds down there; the ascent; a 4 minute safety stop; and then the exit. But that wouldn't leave us with any gas left over. When we use the rule of thirds it means that 1/3 of the gas is left for emergencies or contingencies. If we know how much we need, and that comes from our RMV at different depths, usually every 10ft, we can calculate what we should take with us. take that 51cuft, divide the 51cuft by 2, then multiplying that number by 3. 51/2=25.5x3=76.5 that means that a full AL80 with 77.4cuft at 3000psi will be adequate for this dive and leave enough gas for emergencies. 

We should also calculate how much gas we need before we have to turn around immediately to get back to the surface on your last breath. Let's figure that out also... if they stuck to the plan and air consumption stayed the same, "Rock-Bottom" psi is how much air needed to get to the surface without a safety stop and nothing getting in the way of (or slowing down) that ascent. HOWEVER, Rich mentioned that breathing rates changed. Was that not planned for? Cave divers make it a point that breathing has to remain constant and consistent. Getting out of the cave still happens when one hits their first third (turn psi), but if one's goal is to get to a particular site to see something in particular, then constant and consistent must happen. We'd have to know what the new breathing rate changed to in order to know when everyone should have turned around. in the light of the recent cave rescue in Thailand and the death of one of the dive team, air consumption is particularly critical. Some interesting insight also comes into view by doing the actual written work. 

https://jcaelitescuba.com/articles/SAC_RMV_calculations.pdf

2) Some might say that you can just descend faster, but that is problematic by itself. Not only do you have to equalize, regularly and often, but you have to stay with your dive buddies for the dive plan and schedule to work. failure to equalize could cause traumatic barotrauma as well. Descents are a perfect time to decide to end the dive as well. I call this a "jumping off point." Divers have a tendency to check their air too much, not at all, or think they'll never run out of air. This doesn't mean that someone should expect to run out of air at some point in their scuba diving career, but if it happens, one knows exactly what they will say to themselves, what they will do, and they know what will happen once they get to the surface. 

A jumping off point is the place in the beginning of a dive where the diver reaches their destination (in this case their planned depth) and stops to ask everyone if their air is okay. giving a number to everyone isn't the same because that only reflects a moment in time. the question to answer is, "Do I have enough air to complete this dive?;" "Do i have enough air to get the attention of my dive buddy and tell them i am out of air, please share air;" "Do i have enough air to safely swim to the surface and power inflate my BCD?;" "Do I have enough air to get to my dive buddy, share air towards the surface and go back to my own air supply to finish the rest of the dive?"

3) This is probably the most interesting part of this plan! New divers often think that an 11 minute bottom time is the same as dive time -- the clock starts once you hit the bottom. Once you get there, you'll know how much time you have if using a dive computer, but not until then. NDL's are not correlated to the amount of gas a diver has left. It is possible that a diver may have more time, but not enough gas... some dive computers have planning modes but they only work on square profiles. In reality, after the 4 minute and 20 second descent, the divers only have 6 minutes and 40 seconds at depth. When I used V-Planner, everything longer than 11 minutes went into decompression. The 1:20 at 20ft and the 3:00 at 10ft are technically a required decompression, but instead of a recommended stop, this one you can't skip but it as closely matches the safety stop everyone should be doing. 

Realistically, most follow the guidelines that a safety stop is required, so that's a good thing. So, here's is the reality of this dive! Why did 4 divers agree to spend a whopping 6:40 at 130ft. that's the whole dive! There are costs to all dives and if there was something amazing down there, perhaps advanced nitrox and/or decompression procedures programs would be a better option. Perhaps diving with larger cylinders or two tanks? All these calculations are what every technical diver considers and uses. Most of this is done electronically, V-Planner in my case, but the fundamentals and nuances of being "deep diving trained" is something that these 4 instructors should have known. If one was leading the group into this dive, why did everyone go so easily? Of course, there are questions that no can except these guys can answer, so we'll never know. As far as what he said during the podcast interview, it's very likely to be abbreviated or even carefully scripted to protect everyone involved.

4) PADI ,SSI, and SDI consider the total dive time in the water not the same as actual bottom time. PADI, SSI, and SDI consider that the clock starts when you leave the surface, but it stops when you are making your final ascent. The physiological reasons why this is not accurate can be read in chapter 14 of diving medicine for scuba. 

http://www.divingmedicine.info/Ch%2014%20SM10c.pdf 

NAUI considers that total dive time is the same as total bottom time. Most tech divers follow this rule also because they will often follow a schedule of stops to do decompressions at, all of them being consider required! chapter 14 for more information on decompression and tissue compartments. So, is a safety stop required? No, it is recommended. anything one can do that can minimize the risk of decompression sickness is typically a good thing. With that said, one can do everything right and still get bent. On that same point, one can do everything wrong, and not get bent. I always tell students when talking about the "what ifs," I remind them that death is not the worst thing that can happen -- as we can see by this discussion. This isn't based on an assumption that paralysis could be a good thing or a bad thing, but there is a strong probability that one doesn't wake up in the morning and say, "this is a good day to get paralyzed," just like one doesn't wake up in the mornings and say this is a good day to run out of air...

5) and 6) So you decide to do a safety stop. There should be more happening than waiting 3-5 minutes. Absolutely! Work on your buoyancy, confirm you know where and how to get to your weights to ditch them, that you know where your alternate is, check your air, watch your breathing, relax, confirm that everyone else is there with you, that everyone is ready to ascend and that you get the actual confirmation of that readiness, maybe deploy your SMB and finger spool, and most importantly that when you get to the surface, leave the reg in your mouth, your mask on your face, and look around to make sure it's safe to be there (i.e. boat traffic, surface conditions, where your exit point is, how you'll get out of the water WITH your dive buddy).

Bonus) RBS -- There are a lot of divers that dive with an RBS, a redundant breathing system. There are some misconceptions about this device that should be addressed and clarified as well. Since divers don't expect to run out of air, have you practiced using it? Equipment that the diver carries with them yet they never practice with will not be useful to them in an emergency. Do you know how much air is in that other cylinder? Systems that are kept on the back have a chance to be leaking, empty, or never turned on -- consider slinging the bottle. If not, when entering the water, consider an "s-drill" and your buddy confirming that the valve is on...


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Paul gets Open Water Scuba Certified in Monterey, California



A friend referred Paul to me and I flew down to teach him how to scuba dive. We stayed in Monterey and dove at "Breakwater," San Carlos Beach Park. The water was in the high 50's to low 60's. As you can see in the video, lots of animals and a beautiful kelp forest. Paul learned to dive in a drysuit. Learning to dive in a drysuit and learning good buoyancy from the beginning is totally doable. All of our dives were shore entries. All water work was done at this site!

If you are thinking of learning to dive, give me a call and if the starfish align, I can come train you to dive as well!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

sund rock




Using my new Intova Connex video camera and a close-up lens... I don't buy expensive underwater cameras anymore because flooding is too much of a risk. This camera was $65 brand new, still sealed in the box. The close-up lens was $18. The deepest part of our dive was to 117ft. I'm also using two inexpensive video lights from China that cost about $25 each. For $133, I've got HD quality. So... why do people have to spend on underwater cameras? They don't... (p.s. sorry for not setting the clock on the video camera)

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Open Letter to the Dive Community Concerning Sund Rock Dive Beach

AN OPEN LETTER FROM CINDY SUND ABOUT SUND ROCK, HOODSPORT, WASHINGTON... 

#scuba #SundRock #hoodsportWA #PugetSound #PacificNorthwest

https://jcaelitescuba.com/articles/Open_Letter_to_the_Dive_Community_Concerning_Sund_Rock_Dive_Beach.pdf

Open Letter to the Dive Community Concerning Sund Rock Dive Beach

I am writing this letter to the dive community in an effort to give some history and insight into the Sund Rock dive beach.  As far back as the early 60’s divers have been drawn to the unique underwater structure and habitat of Sund Rock.  Named for my family who homesteaded there prior to statehood. 

In the early days, divers were more of the hunter gatherer type.  Divers would park on highway 101, hike down the steep bank at the state turnout, don their gear and set out for a long surface swim to the rock.   Some would trespass and were chased out by my grandfather who had some rather creative ways to deal with a trespassing scuba diver!  They often left trash, fires and over harvested the lingcod, wolf eel, rock cod and octopus to near extinction.  

Fast forward to my father’s generation who in conjunction with the University of Washington created the underwater preserve.  As the years went on a new diver began to visit the site; observing, taking photos, doing fish counts and enjoying the underwater wonders.  Divers still did not have access to the beach other than the state turn out on highway 101, same steep bank and long surface swim. 

Tab to my generation who entered into an agreement with Hoodsport n Dive back in the 90’s and created an opportunity for divers to drive down to the Sund Rock beach, have a water entry and park off the highway.  The relationship with the dive community improved and there seemed to be a mutual respect between the family and dive community.  Divers appreciated the access and the family has appreciated the respect and care the divers have shown for the property, above and below the water.  It is my hope that this mutual respect continues.

As the Sund Family begins to manage the entry to the beach, there may be a few changes in policy and procedure.  We are hoping to build relationships with divers who truly care about the environment, and the creatures that inhabit the site above and below the water.  Simply by loving the site so much, our overuse of the area has taken a toll.  The family considers the beach to be a partnership of sorts.  We will provide limited access, a maintained road, porta potty, gear up benches, monitored entry and continue to add amenities such as a picnic area, a campsite, better lighting and hopefully a fresh water rinse area up top.  In exchange we ask that you sign in, pay a fee, take any trash you create with you, drive slowly up the road, take pictures and observe sea life from a distance, be aware the effect of excessive finning has on visibility and organisms, no harvesting of any kind, and close/lock the gate behind you. 

In the short term, we plan to open access to the beach on Saturdays and Sundays thru the summer from 9am to 4pm.  Registration and payment will be at the gate.  We are set up to take credit cards or cash.  The entry fee will be $15, which includes tax.   Weekday, night dives, off hours and group access can be arranged by emailing Cindy Sund at cindy@sundsonhoodcanal.com.   

Check out the Glamping camp site on Airbnb, it’s perched above the rock, has power, heat and a hot shower!  Ask for a tour next time you come out for a dive. 

Our family feels blessed to be the stewards of this special place and we enjoy sharing it with those divers that share our respect and gratitude for the land, water and wildlife that inhabit the site.  


Respectfully,  



Cindy Sund

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (CESA) and why the way you learned it might not work

In the article, How to Preform the Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (CESA), the author describes how a diver that runs out of air would safely get to the surface. Interestingly, this instructor is not only a PADI Scuba Instructor, but a TDI Full Cave Instructor. This is particularly interesting because as a certified cave diver myself, one of the most important skills required prior to taking any overhead environment course is good buoyancy. As a cave diver, she should know that the new diver is very likely to need a lot of work on their buoyancy as well as is very likely to not practice skills after certification. Additionally, buddy teams, gas management, and communication are not only tenets of any technical diving specialty but are skills every recreational diver should practice on every dive.


"You are in your own world, calm, relaxed and . . . sluurrrp, out of air! Where's your buddy? No, really, where's your buddy? You look for your dive companion and his alternate air source and realize that he is nowhere near you."

NO! Sorry, but there are no lost buddies while scuba diving. There are true accidents and separation and then there are teams that put safety on the shelf prior to every dive. Staying with your buddy is at worst keeping your hand on them in zero visibility or at best diving side-by-side. When divers get separated, one or both of them failed to communicate their intention to stop, need to pause, or didn't keep their "eyes on the road." When I teach my open water course, I emphasize how important staying with one's buddy is by illustrating incentive in this manner. Offer an average teenager a quarter to do a job and find that it is never taken, done poorly, or even not completed. Offer three $100 bills with the caveat that the work has to be done perfectly and most will complete the work eagerly, with attention to details, and possibly even early. There are those that are not motivated anything, but very often when there is an incentive, and $300 is a pretty good incentive, one's goals change! If you don't want to lose your dive buddy, you do not!
"He does this by swimming slowly to the surface while exhaling and deflating his buoyancy compensator. Every certified diver learns the C.E.S.A. in his Open Water Certification Course, but most divers forget the skill because it seems complicated and is not practiced regularly."
One definitely wants to swim to the surface and if possible, at the industry standard of 30ft per minute, however the last I heard was that PADI states that 60ft per minute is an acceptable ascent rate. For whatever their opinion on the matter is, all other certification agencies as well as the US Navy have adopted 30ft per minute because of the preponderance of evidence based ultrasounds that show that bubble formation occurs the most at ascent rates faster than 30ft per minute and at all depths! 

Deflating the BCD is a precarious procedure as well. If one assumes that the new diver might be over-weighted, and they often are, then letting air out of the BCD during ascent might actually cause the diver to stop and descend -- fall back to the depth they came from or worse, deeper. When properly weighted, an ascent should be slow enough that extending one's fins against the water column is enough to slow the diver on their ascent. This isn't considering dropping one's weights at this time either. Releasing air from the BCD is also very likely to be the last thing an out-of-air diver will be thinking about. In fact, just keeping a steady and consistent kicking motion is a greater concern. Getting to the surface is paramount! Getting to the surface and subsequently getting bent is the risk a diver faces however never getting to the surface is a greater risk.

The procedure is not complicated but it is dangerous when performed incorrectly. Because the skill is facilitated by a scuba instructor under controlled conditions, it ultimately becomes a skill that cannot be practiced. Not only is the danger of an over-expansion injury real, but a fast ascent could lead to an "undeserved hit," getting bent when not expecting to or as a result of not doing anything wrong during the dive. Decompression sickness is always a risk when diving. There is no way to prevent it, only minimize the potential risks of it occurring.
"The Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (C.E.S.A.) can be a dangerous skill to practice. Do not practice swimming vertically towards the surface without a certified scuba instructor present."
LOL. Didn't I just say that? How does this sound to the student? "Here is how you save your life if you run out of air, but don't practice it or you could die!" This is exactly why students fail to continue practicing their skills after certification, fail to dive often and regularly to keep skill competence high, and forget how to do a majority of skills they learned (hopefully learned) during certification. Partner that with shops and instructors that offer two hour refresher courses in the pool to divers who have taken years off between dives, and it should actually be expected that students will get worse after the completion of their programs. Doesn't it make sense to have a skill that the diver can safely practice with limited risk that keeps their skills sharp? Of course it does.
"In fact, this is precisely the reason that the C.E.S.A should be practiced periodically..."
This seems rather contradictory to tell the student how dangerous the CESA is and then in the next paragraph to tell the student to practice it periodically. Some students only get the bare minimum already. Their job after certification is to practice the skills they learned so that their confidence builds, competency grows, and risks are reduced. Most programs fall short of everything needed during an emergency. Technical divers plan via a processes called, "accident analysis." They plan for emergencies to happen and prepare for them before each dive. Recreation divers plan for accidents during open water certification diving. 

First, recreational dive instructors do not put enough emphasis on the CESA. When it is performed, I see students floating on the surface while the instructor takes one at a time down to 20ft to perform the skill until everyone has had a chance to do it. It is more likely that the student is going to remember floating on the surface of the water waiting their turn and wondering how this skill is useful. Place them in the Puget Sound, floating on the surface of 50 degree water, and the CESA is the last thing they'll remember. When you practice these skills in these conditions, the reality is that you will never experience them this way in real life. An accident or emergency is never going to happen in this manner:
  1. waiting your turn
  2. descending down a float line
  3. kneeling or standing on the floor of the body of water you're in
  4. getting ready to perform the skill
  5. the instructor asking if they are ready
  6. the student taking a large breath
  7. the student and instructor swimming to the surface while exhaling
I'll explain these steps and problems with them shortly...
"To practice the C.E.S.A. safely on your own, select a shallow water dive site (such as a swimming pool) with sufficient space to allow you to swim horizontally at least thirty feet. Start thirty feet (or more) from a wall or other visible marker and practice swimming toward that “goal” as if it were the surface ​without removing your regulator from your mouth. By swimming horizontally, a diver eliminates the risks associated with pressure changes such as pulmonary barotrauma and decompression sickness. As long as he keeps his regulator in his mouth, a diver has no risk of drowning. You will practice the skill exactly as you would vertically. You are just turning the whole exercise on its side."
This example of how to safely practice a CESA is not only laughable but practicing in these conditions will not teach the student how to do the skill. Fireman practice on real fires; police are partnered with supervisors for real-life and face-to-face policing; doctors and surgeons practice on real patients; truck drivers practice in real vehicles and on the road...  You get the picture.
"Before simulating a Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent (C.E.S.A.), a diver should relax and make himself neutrally buoyant. (A good way to obtain neutral buoyancy is using a skill called the fin pivot.) Neutral buoyancy is an important step because a diver will not be able to swim freely if he is sinking down and hitting the floor. He will have similar problems if he is fighting positive buoyancy and floating up. In a real diving emergency, a diver would begin the C.E.S.A. neutrally buoyant, so the practice scenario will be most realistic and beneficial if a diver begins the exercise that way."
Here in lies the problem with the CESA and why this procedure will not work. New students are never neutrally buoyant! They never stop swimming and when the do, they sink like a rock. Those few that are actually positive and are swimming so they don't ascend usually fail to keep this up and end up on the surface. Losing one's buddy is the bigger issue but we'll leave that discussion for another time.

When my students first get into the water, I teach them to be negative, stop swimming, put a finger or two on the ocean floor, and then add air to their BCD or drysuit and get neutral before proceeding. A new diver doesn't have the ability to get neutral while moving. That is the long-term practice that is just not present in the beginning. Slowing down or stopping does something else that is very important. It gets the diver to work on breathing! Neutral buoyancy is actually pretty easy. Add enough air in until you neither float nor sink. It's the diver breathing, flailing, moving, and possibly equipment position that effects one's position in the water. Coming from a cave diving instructor, Natalie should know this. A cave diver must maintain a constant air consumption rate or they cannot plan to complete their full dive. Cave divers follow the "rule-of-thirds." One third of your gas in, one third out, and one third for reserve. Changing air consumption changes the length of your dive -- it shortens it! Breathing to control buoyancy is an advanced technique.

Similarly, it takes a few seconds for every breath in and out to effect one's position in the water column. A cave diver cannot be ascending and descending on every breath. They'd sometimes be on the ceiling or cave floor, each with potentially fatal consequences. Put that diver in a rebreather, and neutral buoyancy comes from ones equipment, wing, drysuit, but never from breathing -- gas volume in a rebreather never changes.

So, what happens to the student that stops swimming the moment they take a breath from their regulator and no air comes out? They drop to the ocean floor. What happens when they hit the ocean floor? If they are over-weighted, another new diver issue, they try to swim to the surface and get nowhere. If they are at any great depths, a compressed wetsuit in a cold-water environment could mean that the student could be 10, 15, 20 or more pounds heavy. They didn't start out this way but if you remember Boyle's Law, that wetsuit compresses as you descend. While the diver would have added some air to their BCD during the dive, if they never stop swimming, how would they know how negative they really are?

What should the diver do if they ever find themselves negative, on the ocean floor, and out of air? Emergency Buoyant Ascent. Ditch your weight, push off the ocean floor, arch your back and when your chest starts rising toward the surface, start kicking in a smooth and steady fashion. One's left hand goes onto the inflator system, and not to let air out, but to have it available when the diver reaches the surface! Orally inflate that BCD! A speedy ascent is almost a given, but the statistics show that a very large number of divers found dead still have their weight belts in place, many still with air in their tanks, but never able to get to the surface. When they do get there, you must stay there. Not letting the air out of one's BCD and a fast ascent and possibly getting bent isn't guaranteed while staying on the ocean floor and asphyxiating or drowning is! There's a mention later on not ascending faster than one's slowest bubbles. Don't follow this rule. All bubbles and of any size ascend faster than 30ft per minute. 

With all this said, what happens if the diver is actually neutral. Swim, arch your back, lift the inflator above your head, and exhale all the way to the surface. It is in both of these first set of tasks that whether you are negative or neutral that swimming is probably the most important part of any swimming ascent! If one is ascending and exhaling, since the carbon dioxide is being exhaled, the urge to breath will not be there and since most exhalations still have enough oxygen to sustain life, your heart will still be delivering oxygen to your vital organs. Shallow water blackout is not likely either. Try it. Exhale, do not inhale... The feeling that emerges is the build up of CO2. The lack of oxygen only result in lack of coherence and then consciousness. Neither of those are going to happen in the next 30 seconds, minute, possibly even two. You may not like the feeling of CO2 building up, but oxygen goes further than you think on every breath!

The rest of Natalie's CESA example is on track except for the ascent rate of small bubbles. Practice is the key to surviving an out of air situation, but you have to be able to get into the right position to make it there. Here is what you can practice while you are diving. I'd recommend doing this below 30ft so that the five to six foot ascent (average height of a diver) doesn't affect your buoyancy so much that one continues to the surface. If your buddy wanders far enough away from you that sharing air is impractical, this opportunity will present a great time to simulate running out of air the moment you look for your dive buddy and they are not there. After completing the skill, if you can't find your dive buddy (as a slight ascent is the first part of the lost buddy procedure), ending your dive and making your way to the surface is usually the next thing you'll be doing. If you believe that you can start to swim to the surface if negative, watch this video. She is "climbing the invisible ladder." Try to take two steps before standing up will also demonstrate this...




EMERGENCY BUOYANT ASCENT (Practice -- Do Not Drop Weights)
  • If you are negative, you ALWAYS ditch your weights; tell yourself this as you are swimming around. Stop and see what happens. If you sink, and most divers do, if you run out of air, you MUST ditch your weights. Have you practiced this technique?
  • If you are near the ocean floor, push off the bottom; swim/arch/reach for the surface. If you've ditched your weights, you may not start moving to the surface if you are in a wetsuit and deep enough. 
  • As your chest rises, give a couple kicks to get yourself into a vertical position. Doing a five or six foot ascent at deeper than 30ft is very unlikely to result in a runaway. If it does, your buoyancy needs work!
  • With your left hand, find and hold onto the LP inflator system and look up. You want to make sure you are ascending, not going to swim into another diver or obstacle (i.e. boat, snorkelers, etc) 
  • Do all this while you have already exhaled. Inhaling and ascending should never be done. You have to practice regularly your exhalation technique which can easily be done when swimming up and over something you come across on your dive
  • Stop once vertical and return to diver position. If you started this simulation neutral, letting air out of your BCD or drysuit will be easy in a vertical position. If you were negative when you tried this exercise and never got vertical, you'll realize how difficult a swimming ascent can be and you'll know what to practice

EMERGENCY SWIMMING ASCENT (Practice -- Do Not Drop Weights)
  • If you are neutral, swim/arch/reach for the surface. Emphasize kicking hard, and bending your chest while looking up. Do not rely on using your hands in a water column. It is likely to not do anything
  • As your chest rises, give a couple kicks to get yourself into a vertical position. Getting vertical is the hardest part of a swimming ascent. Proper technique is crucial or you'll be climbing the invisible ladder
  • With your left hand, find and hold onto the LP inflator system and look up. If you actually were rocketing to the surface, then slowing yourself down is important but not more important that exhaling the entire way up or orally inflating your BCD once you get to the surface
  • Do all this while you have already exhaled. Taking a breath and then swimming to the surface is not possible when you are out of air. Don't have someone turn off your air so you can "feel what it's like." If you want to know what it's like, ask a friend if you can kick them in the testicles so he can know what it's like...
  • Stop once vertical and return to diver position. This is a practice exercise. However, if your dive is over, you and a dive buddy can try a slow and steady shallow and slow ascent using these skills. Get neutral and follow the procedures listed while slowly swimming to the surface and WHILE exhaling
  • I don't know why you would raise your right hand over your head, too, but if you have a weight belt on and haven't ditched your weight, it would be better for your right hand to be on your weight belt in the event that positive buoyancy wasn't achieved directly after the surface is reached and reach to ditch it!

The rest of the swimming ascents will be as usual. Exhaling slowly while slowly letting bubbles out, always keeping your airway open. Keep your head looking up and if you need to slow yourself, use your fins by extending them outwards against the water. Leave the regulator in your mouth and try taking a breath as expanding air may give you enough to take another breath. Pause if there is air, take that breath, then continue the exhalation and ascent. When you get to the surface, take the regulator out of your mouth and take a large breath. Exhale that into your BCD by using your LP inflator system. If you are diving in cold water and have thick gloves, you may have to use your second hand to push the deflate button hard enough to make sure it is open all the way so that you push all the air inside of the BCD. You'll have to practice this to see how easy or hard it is to orally inflate your BCD with only one hand and one finger. Things to consider, if your buddy is not by your side, that is a failure in teamwork that has to be addressed first after your dive is over! Without proper training as a "solo diver" your buddy is your first, best, and default safest way to get air, get to the surface, and not get hurt. As you swim around on your dives, visualize what you'll do, practice getting yourself vertical as quickly as possible and remember, long and smooth repeating kicks to the surface!

Here is a great video about the loss of oxygen. While it applies to flying, it represents how the lack of oxygen manifests itself differently than people think that it does. If you are exhaling CO2, you will not have the urge to breath. If you have a loss of oxygen which takes time, you lose coherence and eventually consciousness.


Want to see statistics reported by divers, including instructors, that show that a very large portion of divers complete training and fail to remain competent, click HERE. I can explain the details in greater detail if you need a better understanding of what they mean.

#scuba #scubadiving #outofair #controlledemergencyswimmingascent #outofair #cesa #padicesa #emergencybuoyantascent #emergencyswimmingascent 




Sunday, May 6, 2018

Learn to Scuba Dive with Mom for Mother's day and take 25% lessons, specialties, or "Try Scuba"


HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY...!!! In honor of all the ladies out there that are proud to be called mom, sign up before May 13, 2018 at 11:59pm and use PROMO CODE: MOMSDAY to receive 25% off when mom and kids sign up for scuba diving lessons! Applies to certified moms and kids that want to take a specialty course together, too! If mom and kids would like to "Try Scuba" out in the pool, take 25% off that as well. Moms and kids older than 10, please. Sorry dads, but this deal is for all the hard-working moms out there. #scuba #mothersday #happymothersday #scubawithmom #learntoscubadive #mothersdayspecial
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