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Lesson learned the hard way (almost)

Discussion in 'Public Safety Divers/Search and Rescue' started by Jorbar1551, Nov 29, 2007.

  1. Jorbar1551

    Jorbar1551 Dive Resort

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: CSU-Monterey Bay
    So I almost killed someone last night during our training dive. here's how it happened.

    We are diving off a pier in oakland, CA and we have to climb down a 20 foot ladder after suiting up and getting our gear checked off. All my gear checks out that was tested and i get down to the boat to begin our pier searching. I do a backroll off the boat and realize that my bc is not holding air. I've had this problem before and i just have someon tighten the valve and it would work normally, but not this time, so my dive gets called and i get out of the water back onto the boat. after getting de geared, i get ready to climb the 20 foot ladder with only my wetsuit, mask and weightbelt on(boots and gloves too). I get to the top of the ladder and begin to go to the side so i can get off the ladder. As soon as my weight transfers, my weightbelt gets caught and falls straight down 20 feet. We hear it hit the inflatable part of the boat(zodiac) and fall into the water. We all look down off the pier were about 6 people were within 2-3 feet of the weightbelt when it hit and thank god noone was hurt. 20 lbs of lead falls pretty quick and hits pretty hard in case you didnt know.

    Anyway, a couple divers go down and try to find it but to no avail. it could've only landed in about a 3 foot circle, but there was about 5 feet of silt on the bottom so they didnt find it after about a 15 minute search.

    anyway, lesson learned for the day is to not climb up ladders while wearing a weightbelt.
  2. TC

    TC Miscreant Moderator Staff Member

    Glad no one got hurt!

    There are some benefits to soft weights too.
  3. Sealboy

    Sealboy Angel Fish

    I just have this rule about never standing under someone climbing a ladder.
  4. Ber Rabbit

    Ber Rabbit Floppy Ear Mod ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ohio
    Just curious, you call the dive because your BC isn't holding air AKA no buoyancy control available. You climb a ladder wearing the same lead that would have been part of that buoyancy control problem. What if it had been you AND the weightbelt that fell? Had you been knocked out and on the bottom would they have been able to find you in time? Is it common practice in Public Safety Diving to leave your weight in place after you have removed your BC? I know I harp on my recreational students about that, if the lead doesn't come off first it comes off immediately after the BC is removed.

    Glad nobody was injured.
    Ber :lilbunny:
  5. Doc Intrepid

    Doc Intrepid Instructor, Scuba

    Seriously dude, listen to Ber.

    Weight is the last thing on, precisely so you know for sure it can be the first thing off (underwater - i.e. no crotch straps, belts, or clips were installed over it that would hinder instantly dropping the belt in an emergency).

    You should never be working around a boat/on the water wearing a weightbelt but not wearing a BC, for the reasons Ber noted.

    The belt goes on last. It comes off first. Its a pretty good habit to work on...
  6. bridgediver

    bridgediver Instructor, Scuba

    No, we train exactly the way you and Doc state -- weightbelt off first before all else (even fins), always. This also starts to build muscle memory. If the diver never takes the belt off as he would during a dive he is unlikely to do it in an emergency. The proof of this would be the amount of drowned divers they find with their weightbelt still in place or incorrectly ditched (still holding them down).
    Falling lead is secondary to this life saving skill although still something to consider as this scenario points out.

    Jorbar - curious as to what valve you're refering to on the BCD?

    To add, if this was a PSD dive into limited vis and/or a site where the bottom is unproven I'd suggest a feet first entry. You never know what you'll land on in this line of work
  7. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    Just a couple of goodies. First off nobody got hurt and that was a very good thing. Second thanks for having the boys to come forward and post it. A big part of the battle is making a mistake and admitting it so steps can be taken to correct it. Good job.:wink:

    Back rolls off of lower profile boats around pilings is not a bad thing. I have had my bacon saved many times when my tank(s) hit a piling we didn’t know was there. I have seen many injuries when stepping on one has caused a wide variety of injuries.

    Pilings can move several feet in a very short time. Tides can make them swing so in just a few seconds one can show up in what was clear water when you looked. I have also seen pilings and logs stand up when they were lying on the bottom earlier. That can happen anywhere in the country so be careful.

    Another option is lying on the side of the boat and just slipping slowly slipping in. Then there is going down the ladder if obstructions are expected.

    Pier ladders can be a pain. Many are totally vertical making for a steep climb. At the top the ladder continues a few feet above the deck so you have a hand hold(s). A safe way to step around the top of one is go to the side that will not release your weights should the buckle get caught. Right hand release, go around the right side of the ladder.

    We have one hard rule when on or around boats. Dry suits are either ON or OFF, there is no in between. The other one is I agree with the other posts on wearing the belt w/o the other goodies on as well. They hauled your other gear up and/or down so just add your belt to the list.

    Nobody is picking on you because anyone who has been a PSD for a while has made some serious mistakes. We learn from those mistakes. Others bringing their mistakes forward help all of us learn from them.

    Good job

    Gary D.
  8. Jorbar1551

    Jorbar1551 Dive Resort

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: CSU-Monterey Bay

    it was the exhaust valve at the back of the low pressure inflator.

    we did back rolls because we knew what that part of the bottom was like. Also, i was about the 10th diver in the water.
  9. bridgediver

    bridgediver Instructor, Scuba

    Gotcha Jorbar about the entry methods - just a point to ponder. I was meaning that the "slip-in-slow" method would be best for an known area - certainly not a giant stride.

    I don't know if we should consider landing tank first on something as a means to protect ourselves - what if the tank valve got knocked off:11:
  10. Dive Right In Scuba

    Dive Right In Scuba ScubaBoard Business Sponsor ScubaBoard Business Sponsor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Plainfield, Illinois, United States
    Thank god no one was hurt...I ran into a guy at last years DEMA who was at Haigh QUarry, diving under the dock, and a guy was getting the straps of his BCD wet so his tank didnt slip, he had his weights in the bcd, and the bc slipped out of his hands....Hit this guy in the back of the neck and he is paralyzed due to it....he was in a wheelchair paralyzed from the waist down..

    Not tryin to scare you, but this is what could have happened......Im sure you learned your lesson, but this type of thing can happen and does have real results

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