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Discussion topic - buddy separation protocol

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by DaleC, Feb 14, 2009.

  1. BDSC

    BDSC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wake Forest, NC
    7,214
    3,809
    My thoughts on safety stops is this. In general I will do them unless there is some compelling reason not to. To me it's just a few extra minutes underwater and that's not a bad thing. But if I choose not to do one I don't worry in the least little bit.

    It's always been my understanding that under normal recreational diving (no deco required) a ss is recommended and not required. I guess this is still the case but not sure. Knowing how most agencies/companies/organizations work, they will almost always err on the side of caution. So if there were a real reasonable chance of a DSC hit or any other problem for that matter, then safety stops would have been required initially. The fact that they were not required tells me it's not something you should have to worry about. It wouldn't have been an option or a recommendation if a real danger to the diver was there.

    So any talk of 2 victims instead of one because of a missed ss doesn't really make any sense to me.
     
  2. Jrock1062

    Jrock1062 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Florida
    2,802
    19
    IMHO a SMB and reel are both mandatory equipment and I wouldn't dive without them I think if your going to be diving off a boat you should know how to shoot a SMB for your own safety
    Buying gear is part of this sport and buying gear for your safety shouldn't be an issue relative to the rest of your gear a finger spool and small reel are a cheap way to help insure your safety just my 2psi
     
  3. BDSC

    BDSC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wake Forest, NC
    7,214
    3,809
    I do carry a safety sausage with me when I dive a place like Cozumel where currents can be an issue. But when I go to a place like Little Cayman for example where all you do is swim in one direction then turn around and swim back, I don't bother. As a matter of fact, of all the places I have been, only Cozumel is when I carry one. Not needed anywhere else.
     
  4. J.R.

    J.R. Divemaster

    882
    5
    Excellent points... However, the purpose of protocols and plans, as I understand them, is to provide a framework for problem resolution that gives the highest probability of favorable outcome and reducing the chances of poor decision making "in the heat of the moment"... Violation of these protocols not only puts you at risk... but may just as easily put your buddy at risk because if they are following the protocols and you are not...

    Let's look at the scenerio a bit differently:

    1: Who is really lost... you or your buddy? It's as likely that your buddy is looking for you as well... (...and assuming that it is YOU who had the "heart attack" or whatever...). If your buddy followed the 'exception rule'... you now have TWO people violating protocol and introducing an element of risk that wouldn't be present if you had both simply done what you agreed to.

    2: If your buddy surfaces ahead of you (... assuming you spent extra time looking)... you run the risk of sea separation on the surface... if you ignore the SS and your buddy doesn't... same thing. 3 to 4 minutes on the Elbow could be quite a distance when the current's running.

    While I have a deep appreciation for your observation about second guessing your choices if you lost a buddy... I don't believe that this is dependant on whether or not you do a safety stop... any outcome that is less than optimal would probably cause this kind of introspection.... However, if you DID ignore the safety stop can you be sure that doing so didn't in and of itself cause a problem for your buddy???
     
  5. Reg Braithwaite

    Reg Braithwaite Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Toronto, ON
    976
    15
    Help a n00b out, please: If we are going to swim in one direction, turn around and swim back, what happens if we swim to the turnaround and then have an issue that requires surfacing there, such as a gear problem?

    Do we surface in open water without a bag or SMB?
     
  6. J.R.

    J.R. Divemaster

    882
    5
    If you didn't bring one with ya' it seems to me that your options to do anything else would be rather limited... :rofl3:

    ... but that's why good scouts are always prepared... the problem with the unanticipated situation is that... well, they're *unanticipated*... all you can do is to develop a plan and follow it (hoping you have your bases covered)...

    Ironically... even PADI has basic safty protocols that they teach... and, if I remember correctly, the carrying of surface signaling devices, is kinda' standard. If you CHOOSE to develop your own safety standards because of your own interpretation of what constitutes acceptable risk... go for it... but understand that if things go sideways on ya' during a dive we'll probably be discussing your "accident or incident" here on ScubaBoard... and as we all know, this can be a tough crowd... :rofl3: :rofl3:
     
  7. Doc Harry

    Doc Harry Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Appalachia
    3,603
    825
    Interesting question. Answer seems obvious to me.

    Spend 1 minute searching for your buddy and the do what you need to do to ensure your own safety. While a 3-minute safety is not mandatory, if I have been deeper than 50 feet for any significant amount of time then I am doing my safety stops on the way up.
     
  8. DaleC

    DaleC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Leftcoast of Canada
    4,981
    2,325
    Tsk Tsk:no:
    If you are a good diver you will never face that problem and so will never need that gear.
    Silly monkey.

    Back to the question.
    Some thoughts that came out of our (IRL) discussion were:

    1.) Don't add to the problem by acting rashly. JR makes these same points. All I know is we are seperated at this point.

    2.) Two lost divers swimming in circles often won't find each other. After an initial search sometimes staying in one spot is better.

    3.) Almost always one diver surfaces before the other and spins around and around looking for bubbles. Shooting a bag gives a quick visual reference and also provides a direct path/link to the other diver.

    There are no hard and fast rules and there may not be any perfect solution. You just do the best with what you've got. Being on the same page, whatever page that is, certainly is better than not. Most of the issues I've encountered so far have come from multiple divers executing multiple dive plans on the same dive.

    The problem I have had with locating divers near the end of a dive is that, once you surface, your options are quite limited anyways. Your tank is low, the vis is bad and the ocean is pretty big. You wind up sitting for a long time wondering where they are and whether you should initiate a search/rescue or not. Even with the current/drift issue, shooting a bag addresses that for me.

    We looked at some scenarios:

    Simple buddy seperation.
    a.) There's no problem and no need to risk. Do the SS's.

    Buddy seperation with a problem.
    a.) If the buddy has a medical issue, say a heart attack, will the outcome be any different if you surface in two minutes or five, signal shore for help (if available) and wait while a rescue is mounted? Remember, you are low on air yourself and now risk a bounce dive to depth if you go back down searching. Plus, how long do you wait on the surface before your signal for help (if you don't know there really is an issue).
    b.) If a buddy goes OOA while lost. The buddy will have about 5 - 10 seconds to look around for you and/or decide to CESA. Will surfacing in two minutes or five effect the outcome?
    c.) Buddy is entangled. That was trickier. If you surface in two minutes and your buddy is not there how long do you sit on the surface looking before you either signal for help or go back down? More than 5 minutes total from point of seperation? Would it be any different from doing the SS's and surfacing in five minutes, looking around and realizing there was no bag or buddy and so knowing something was amiss?

    These were some of the points we discussed before coming up with our solution.
     
  9. BDSC

    BDSC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wake Forest, NC
    7,214
    3,809
    Of course. No big deal at all. We're not talking about swimming hundreds of yards in one direction and then turning around. Most dives in the caribbean you swim maybe 75 to 100 yards max from the boat. Let's say you have to surface and must finish the dive like that. Just swim back to the boat. The boat will be anchored and you just swim back to it. Nothing to it.
     
  10. Reg Braithwaite

    Reg Braithwaite Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Toronto, ON
    976
    15
    IIRC, the conversation about surface signaling devices before booking the drift dive portion of my AOW was along the lines of "Now, will you be bringing your own spool and bag? No spool? No bag? No problem! Step over to the sales counter and buy one of each."

    It was made very plain to me that this was more than a "Here, learn this once and forget it." I am expected to have my own with me on each and every charter the shop runs.
     

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