A recent publication of a new book called close calls by Stratis Kas has left me pondering about the subject of close calls and how all of us as divers no matter how much experience we have can all still have dangerous experiences from participation in the sport. After all, technically speaking humans should not be underwater. We rely on equipment to support us to achieve this and without this or on the chance that a piece of this equipment fails then problems arise which can ultimately lead to serious consequences if not addressed correctly and quickly. Although not as major as some of the close calls published in this book I thought I would share one of my own that I have experienced, what I learnt as a result of it and how moving forward I can prevent it from happening again.
What made this all the more terrifying for me and perhaps why it sticks with is, at the time that this close call happened I was on only my second dive after receiving my PADI open water certification when I was diving at Stoney cove with my younger brother as part of the Dive Rutland Club. It started off as a regular recreational dive along the 6metre shelf at Stoney, taking in the sights of the Nautilus and the cockpit whilst taking some photos on a Go Pro camera. As we hit our turn point for our dive we decided to start heading back towards the exit via Nessie. Whilst we were taking a look at Nessie and taking some pictures with a go pro, whichever way I moved to position myself caused my Octopus to start free flowing uncontrollably underwater. At the time this came as a bit of a shock and I could not seem to stop it from free flowing no matter what I tried to do. I was conscious that my air was depleting rapidly and I would have to do something to address the situation or get to the surface. This obviously panicked me slightly and along with the free flow, the rush of air started to stir silt and began to make visibility obscured.
After the initial panic for a few seconds, my training kicked in and I signalled my buddy to assist. I took hold of their octopus and began air sharing immediately as my own air was depleting rapidly. At this point I reached back to my pillar valve and turned off my cylinder to stop the continuous stream of air from pouring from my octopus. I attempted to turn it back on again to see if this would solve the problem but it did not and it continued to free flow. We then signalled to call the dive and return to the surface. This was completed whilst air sharing and on reaching the surface, instinctively I reached for my low-pressure inflator to add air to my BCD. Luckily my training again kicked in and I hadn’t got rid of my buddie’s octopus and was still breathing from it. I began to sink as I realised I had no air to do this due to having isolated my cylinder. I began finning to keep afloat and used my buddy as an aid and added air manually to my BCD. The whole incident probably only lasted about 2-3 minutes from the time of my octopus going into free flow to reaching the surface. During the ordeal my buddy lost his Go-Pro camera when he came to my aid. In the heat of the moment he dropped the camera he was holding to assist with passing me his octopus.
Although relatively new to the diving world at this time when this occurred it did not phase me too much as my training kicked in pretty much automatically. After an elaborate debrief with my buddy and the Dive Rutland instructors who were also on site that day which was a major benefit and one major reason I advocate joining a diving club that supports its members, I changed my regulators and cylinder and got back in for another dive. Thankfully this one was incident free and we got to see several large pike, unfortunately the only downside was we lost the camera and couldn’t get any photos.
I learnt a few different things from this and all have stayed with me to this day. Firstly I learnt that the training I had received was brilliant as in a time of panic and stress it just automatically kicked in. It was second nature to me to just air share and attempt to fix the problem. I was surprisingly calm considering how new to diving I was and the fact that I was on my own with my buddy who had also only just completed his open water course. We both had the confidence and calmness to deal with the situation almost effortlessly. I also learnt the importance of maintaining good buddy contact throughout the dive. Something which is stressed during Open water training and for good reason. By maintaining good buddy contact we were able to deal with the situation quickly and effectively even when our visibility was obscured to almost zero. Knowing where my buddy was made dealing with the situation much easier.
Finally moving forward, I have taken up a couple of practices to try and prevent this issue from arising again during a dive. I now before getting into the water make sure that my octopus sensitivity is turned down to a lower setting to try and prevent the flow of the water over the purge button causing this to activate. I also ensure that my octopus is positioned with the mouth piece facing in a downwards position, again to try and stop the flow of water directly against the purge button. Unfortunately both of these things I had not considered until after the incident occurred and perhaps if I had then it wouldn’t have happened in the first place. Regardless I learnt a lot from albeit a fairly minor incident in the grand scheme of things and it did not stop me from getting back in the water.
Written by Robert O'Rourke
Just another reason (if you need one!) to become a PADI Professional, you can get to travel the world.
Just another reason (if you need one!) to become a PADI Professional, you can get to travel the world.
One of the great reasons for becoming a PADI professional be that a Divemaster, instructor or above is funding travel.
Experiencing the world on a gap year diving and working your way around - what an experience and adventure!
As many diving jobs are seasonal you could spend maybe three months in Thailand, then take off to Bali for another two months or have a working holiday in Australia. But hopping from one contract to another means you could get to work in some of the most beautiful places in the world - so much adventure and underwater things to see and explore also what a great thing to place on your CV?
Maybe you do not want short term work but a long-term position - well they are out there but experience is important.
Just maybe you find another love on your travels and decide to settle down in another part of the world - what great stories you would have for your children and grandchildren.
What is stopping your journey? Nothing... Here at Dive Rutland we run a full suite of professional training courses AND we can also provide you with the value add training such as how to operate a compressor, gas blend, first aid and so much more. You could become one of the most sought after dive professionals.
Now is really the time to start or continue your journey. Be prepared for the world to open back up and get out there.
Aqua Lung have brought out the ACD Series of regulators, but what is ACD? ACD Stands for Auto-Closure System
The ACD feature coupled with the environmental dry chamber, results in a first stage that is completed sealed off from the environment
Data from Aqua Lung website and Youtube channels
As a diving fraternity particularly UK divers will be very much aware of the Apeks brand, yes they are part of the Aqualung brand but Apeks manufacturing is still based here in the UK at Blackburn
What you are probably not aware of, is how seriously they take their environmental impact and all of the things they do to reduce this.
Apeks Environmental Credentials
Zero waste to Landfill
Apeks Diving has reached a new industry-leading achievement of sending zero non-hazardous waste to landfill from their UK headquarters, including waste from the factory, warehouse and offices. 100% of general waste from the business is now turned into biofuel, which goes on to provide fuel for heating and hot water in other industries.
At their UK regulator manufacturing facility, they are continuing with their switch to green by the installation of 400 solar panels on the roof of their purpose built factory.
With the potential to create 75,000kWh of electricity annually, enough to supply around 23 domestic homes for a year, the installation in 2014 also allows surplus electricity to be sold back into the grid.
Throughout their supply chain, renewable energy is used. In the UK, the print factory owns a solar farm and they power manufacturing operations with renewable energy. The factory the makes the garments owns two wind farms and a 150kw PV array. Renewable energy is affordable, reliable and something we are committed to investing in. The regulator manufacturing facility in the UK also has a solar array to assist with running the machinery.
The t-shirt factory features machine-to-machine communications technology which means that equipment dynamically turns on and off only when it is needed, balancing the manufacturing demand with on site generation.
Every year 100 billion new items of clothing are produced while a truck full of clothing is burned, or buried in a landfill every second. Slowing fast fashion down a bit won't fix it. But taking the waste material at the end, and making new products from it at the start, changes everything.
Apeks products and packaging are made from natural materials, not plastics. Every product is designed to be sent back when it is worn out.
New products are made from the recovered material, and the cycle itself is renewable. Apeks products can be returned and remade again and again and again.
A pure material makes remanufacturing possible, and means products that are softer, and harmless to the environment.
Here at Dive Rutland we work with Apeks and collect and return all of the previously used mouthpieces for them to recycle
Plastic Free Packaging
As well as designing out plastic, Apeks are attempting to design out waste. The two things are interconnected and it is possible to use some of the waste material in packaging.
Apeks Environmental Blog
Have a read of their blog for more information as we have only provided the headlines here for you.
Not only do Apeks make great products with this environmental consciousness they are a company that as divers we support.
After all by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. This is bad and as divers we want to dive in the ocean with fish not a plastic filled ocean.
Here at Dive Rutland we made a pledge
Become 100% Project AWARE, with a Reduce, Reuse, Recycle ethos in ALL areas of our operations. We will eliminate consumer single use plastics and favour suppliers with a Green Mission to remove plastic from their manufacturing and supply chain and particularly those who manufacture using Bluesign® standards
We are pleased that Apeks is helping us meet our pledge
We often hear from divers that they do not feel ready to become a rescue diver, if one of our professionals is suggesting you take that next step then YES YOU ARE.
But to answer the question Are you ready to become a Rescue Diver?, you are once you are comfortable as a diver, able to dive down into the different types of dive sites with ease and if are starting to look around at other divers and questioning why things are being done or not done then you are more than ready
During the Rescue Course, you will expand upon the knowledge you have already gained .
In the Open Water Diver course, you learned the basics of how to scuba dive alongside a buddy. Your Advanced Open Water Course taught you to develop those basics and explore different skills and continue to improve your diving ability
The Rescue course is about changing your mind set and start to get you to begin to look outside yourself and your own skills and learn to tune in with others underwater.
Reasons to become a Rescue Diver
See the Bigger Picture
Here at Dive Rutland we believe that if as a diver you are starting to notice the little things that might not be quite right or another diver suffering with a little apprehension they this is the sign you are ready to become a Rescue Diver.
During the rescue diver training you learn to become more aware of your surroundings including how to recognise the various signs and symptoms of various types of stress - Tired divers, panicked divers and so much more.
As a Rescue Diver, you'll be able to spot potential problems and fix them before they ever happen, as your eyes open up to the "bigger" picture around you.
Improve your dive skills and confidence underwater
The more time you spend in the water the more your dive skills and confidence grow, this is a fact. All of these things lead to you being a better diver and a much better and aware buddy.
Improve your navigation skills
Part of the Rescue course is learning how to search for lost items using different underwater search patterns.
Increasing your navigation skills underwater is always a good thing as it will increase your comfort in the water and could come in handy the next time you drop something valuable or we get asked to go put in mooring lines at Rutland Water or find that lost engine on the local duck pond or even a lost keel all things we have used our navigation skills for over the years
Become better prepared for any diving emergency
There are all kinds of side benefits to becoming a Rescue Diver course but the number one benefit and reason most people take this course is that you will leave with the skills you would need to save someone's life in a diving emergency.
This is worth its weight in gold.
Should you find yourself in a situation where your dive buddy or someone else diving in your group has an underwater emergency you will feel confident enough to offer aid, and could possibly be the one to save their life. Is there really any other reason you would need besides that?
Last course before Divemaster
Some people know they want to become a dive professional and the rescue course is the last course needed as a pre-requisite (there are other requirements) prior to the first professional certification - Divemaster.
What Can I expect?
You can expect your course to be challenging, if checking out different providers ask what the course includes and who your instructor will be; find out if you can meet them to discuss what their teaching style is like. Also ask how long you can expect the course to take (this will vary depending on where you are), and how many other students will be on the course alongside you.
If you’re completing the course with other students you may have the opportunity to play victim as well as rescuer. Any Divemaster who has assisted a rescue course can tell you you’ll learn just as much from acting victim.
Sometimes you may find you’re the only student, so your instructor may be assisted by a Divemaster or other instructor. This usually makes for a really fun environment; when there’s a rescue course going on most of the dive professionals will want to get involved, and you’ll probably find lots of other teachers fighting for a chance to act out an emergency and show off their amateur dramatics!
It is Fun
Yes the course is fun but forget a rescue course being “fun” or as a stepping stone to something else. Learn the skills because they can be the difference between life and death.
Becoming a Rescue Diver is probably the most important certification we think all divers should receive after they become an Open Water Diver. So what are you waiting for?
Just another reason to become a Dive professional is that you get to work out in nature
You get to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and that always makes you feel better, yes, you also get the wind and rain but that’s exhilarating.
Being under the water with the fishes, the coral, the grasses, the sharks, whales, rays and dugongs is amazing and being able to share your passion with others is an amazing opportunity.
So go on, join us and become a dive professional, we are here to help you with your journey
The first step of the journey is to become a Divemaster, this will open up many doors such as that gap year be you having a year out from studying, work or just life, find out more by having a look at our PADI Divemaster course
And if you want to progress further up the professional ladder then we have something for you to. contact us to discuss your next steps, we truly are that "one stop shop"
Dive Rutland is the trading name for Dive Rutland Limited, a company registered in England and Wales with company number 9433835.
Registered address: 8 Horn Close, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6FE