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My Colombia Deep incident... Need your advice

Discussion in 'Near Misses and Lessons Learned' started by Divingblueberry, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. northernone

    northernone Great White Rest in Peace

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Currently: Cozumel, from Canada
    Yes. And you can test that quite easily.

    The tricky thing about second stage swivels is they can silently unscrew and don't leak until the oring (captive in the barrel) pops completely free when it entirely unscrews. Loosening a little normally doesn't cause a leak or any hint...

    Not lightly torquing it down will result in it unscrewing eventually... It's a good thing to check (fingers wiggling the bolt, looking for no motion) every time you switch regs.

    I caught one trying to sneak away a couple weeks ago.

  2. txgoose

    txgoose Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Houston
    Thank you OP for opening up and letting folks comment so that us less experienced divers can learn.

    Even if it wasn't your best day, you found the mitigating tools to bring you back here to share.
    SapphireMind and Divingblueberry like this.
  3. DryCaver

    DryCaver Angel Fish

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: California
    Something that is very important to this discussion is that humans uses a number of types of learning, which are driven by different parts of their nervous systems. What you are describing with instinctive responses is likely a combination of reflex actions and over-learned motor programs. It's really important that both of those things operate in different areas of the nervous system than conscious thought. Reflexes, such as pulling back from a painful stimulus, often operate at a spinal cord level, and come built in for earth-bound survival. Motor programs are things we add through significant practice, and typically live more in cerebellum. An example of the difference is, indeed, falling and raising your arms. People in general will get their arms between themselves and the ground if possible in a fall (reflex action), but as a person who took hapkido for quite a while, I'd most likely aim to do a front fall with a slap (a learned motor program) instead of directly guarding with my arms . What would happen in this circumstance is a whole lot of practice causing a motor program to kick in, when there isn't time to think about the situation and choose a response. This is why it's so important to do a whole lot of physical practice of safety programs, in the actual circumstances, rather than just knowing what the safety procedures are. You want cerebellum to know how to save you without additional higher level guidance. Our reflex sets aren't so useful for diving, so we work pretty hard to create a good set of motor patterns to deal with frequent concerns.

    However, the reason why I think it really matters to define panic as a set of physiological changes is because if it is defined as loss of cognitive control I think that sets people up for an extended session of panic. A central feature of treating Panic Disorder is teaching people about the physical changes that occur with panic, and that they are not inherently dangerous. You feel as if you are dying when you physiologically panic, but you just aren't really, and even while diving, you aren't dying *yet* just because you are out of cognitive control. If you continue to concentrate on your fear then you will become more and more cognitively out of control, and eventually that is likely to lead to seriously dangerous choices. However, the cycle of panic can be inhibited by acknowledging the effect it is having and allowing it to recede. Basically, the more you can accept and relax into the physiological changes the better your chance of calming enough to return to a place of cognitive control. The side benefit to this approach is that you can also let cerebellum bring to the table whatever motor programs you have been practicing for just this situation while you work on calming.

    Mostly, I'm concerned that having too much of a - panic kills! mentality sets up a diver for an increasing panic feedback cycle when they realize they are feeling panicky. I'm really enthusiastic about the idea of resilience, and encouraging people to learn self calming to use in extreme situations. It's really amusing in a backwards kind of way - telling people panicking is dangerous will likely push them more towards fear, and increased danger, while giving them a sense of mastery in accepting it might allow them to calm. Its this crazy reversal we use to treat Panic Disorder- the treatment goal is to learn to live with panic, not to make it go away, but the side affect of being ok with panicking is people tend to stop doing it.

    The difficulty of exporting this attitude to diving is the concern that some learners might take the advice to relax into panic and use it as an excuse to be cavalier about safety. However, I suspect those who aren't adequately respectful of safety have often tuned out by the time you get to that fine of a point.

  4. johndiver999

    johndiver999 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Gainesville FL
    I think you are applying the term panic for something I would think of as "impending" panic. Regardless of the application of the terms, the idea that a person can be trained to deal with the stimulus by recognizing it for what it is and applying mental "tools" to de-escalate the situation and the perceived intensity of it makes a lot of sense. which I think is what you are talking about.

    I think this was the justification for many of the drills that were done in a pool sessions many years ago when training divers. Stressing them, pushing them to freak out a little and allowing them to develop coping skills to manage the "bad feelings" and allow them to remain in control.

    I know divers were taught to share a single second stage between 3, 4 or 5 divers. Many people would now criticize such an activity as impractical, inapplicable to real diving, dangerous and a waste of precious time which could be better used to further develop the more practical skills that will actually be required on real dives.

    You used the term resilience, which I think is exactly what was taught when the diver mastered these types of challenging games. It also sounds quite similar to what is required of freedivers, who are in reality quite uncomfortable, yet they learn to cope, even enjoy the feelings, relish the challenge and very clearly understand that they can't freak out or they will die in many situations.

    I don't think that current recreational diving training puts much emphasis on this aspect of training. It would be difficult and many (most) people would not find it "fun" or enjoyable. I think there are a lot of divers who are closer to the panic pit than they might realize, partially because they have never been forced to look over the edge. If you are familiar with the gear, and you're physically fit and are not in particularly challenging environments, recreational scuba diving is super simple and easy; until something happens.

    Once something happens, a lot becomes a mind game. Strength and a certain level of fitness might be beneficial (or even required), but if your mind can't handle it, the outcome may not be good.

    Students are presumably taught to avoid panic when water gets in their mask or nose, but not a whole lot else. So your point is:

    Divingblueberry likes this.
  5. Melvin Moi Kai Sen

    Melvin Moi Kai Sen Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Malaysia
    Nice accident report, glad you made it safely, and thanks for sharing!

    Agree with others that the only flaw I feel (apart from not checking before dive which happens), would be the shutting off of air supply by the DM before alternative air supply was secured, but that's all in hindsight.

    One thing to add though, you might need to check and clean your reg again to prevent future problems, since there was an open route for seawater to intrude into your first stage when air the supply was turned off. Sealed diaphragms would keep the salt in the reg until your next service, which might cause issues.
    MinimalMayhem likes this.
  6. yle

    yle Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southern California
    Wow... you didn't panic, it sounds like your brain just kicked into high gear and within seconds assessed the situation, realized you knew where the DM was, got to him and handled it. Definitely the best choice: allow someone with adequate resources (air supply!) and training to assist you. You probably feel like you panicked because your reaction happened so fast and when you try to recall your thought process it seems like you didn't really spend time thinking through your options.

    But that's what training and preparation will do: allow you to react very quickly and choose the best course of action. You didn't need to spend a lot of time analyzing the situation.

    Not only is there nothing to beat yourself up over, you should see this for what it is: your ability to react well to an unplanned emergency was tested, and you passed with high marks.

    As for prevention... I'm sure very few people include "check hose connection at second stage" in their pre-dive ritual. But I'm also sure you now will, which is one upside from the experience.

    And yeah, sounds like Pedro handled it like a pro.
    Divingblueberry likes this.

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