Out of air incident

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I am 100% embarrassed that this even happened and feeling emotional about it today. I want to share what happened to me with everyone here as a learning experience and hope to prevent this from happening to anyone else.

My husband and I are dive buddies. We each have over 400 logged dives and have been diving for 7 years. We recently this year earned our Intro to Cave Diver certification from one of the best instructors in the Bahamas. We have been practicing our skills in the Cavern at Ginnie Springs for several weeks. Yesterday we went to Ginnie Springs to do our very first Cave dive in the Devils Eye by ourselves, no guide or instructor. Our first dive went well! No issues.

Getting into the water for our second dive, we placed our cylinders (side mounting) into the water on the steps going down to the water with the tank valves ON. With all the people at Ginnie Springs entering and exiting, somehow my right cylinder was kicked off the stairs and landed down on the sandy bottom. A young man in the water was kind enough to fetch it up for me and I continued to hook up for the dive.

We did our safety check and I did breath off of both cylinders prior to the dive and checked the gauges…..I DID NOT check the handles to be sure the cylinder was open all the way and herein is the error. When I took breaths off each cylinder the gauges did not move so I believed all was well.
I was able to breathe off the right regulator from the surface stairs down into the Devils Eye into the cave until 43 feet when I had no air. No indication of any problem at all until it was a problem.

This is the first time in my life that I have been so close to death…seriously panicked and thinking I’m going to die in the cave today. It’s true when you hear people say they want to bolt to the surface in a panic/out of air situation. And it’s true that your life flashes before your eyes. I’m so thankful to be alive today as I did switch to my left regulator after 2 breath cycles on getting no air out of the right cylinder. I did inhale some water into my lungs in this incident and I am still coughing today.

The lesson we learned here is to ALWAYS CHECK to be sure your air is on prior to descending. I made an assumption based on my watching my gauges breathing from each cylinder on the surface and it could have cost me my life. Apparently, when my cylinder rolled off the stair, and upon retrieval of it, the handle rolled off enough to cut off my air supply at depth. It was breathing fine up until 43 feet. And believe me, the element of surprise at 43 feet deep in an overhead environment can be deadly.
This was a true lesson for life for me and my husband. I will be a better cave diver for it. Lesson learned.
 

Marie13

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Thanks for posting. You shouldn’t leave your tanks in the water turned on. Good chance to lose gas like that. Turn them off but leave the regs pressurized.

This truly wasn’t an out of air situation. You had your other tank to switch to. As soon as you couldn’t get one breath, why didn’t you immediately switch regs?

Note: I dive SM, as well, intro to cave trained at a WI mine last fall. Getting down to cave country at the holidays.

There is one gear tweak you might want to consider, just for an extra check. Some people here poopoo them, but they came with the valves on the first steel tanks I bought and I’ve kept them. I only dive cold water with dry gloves and they’re easier to handle, being larger. I see a fair number of tech divers in my area with them, so they’re not just for recreational divers.

Vindicator knobs. Green when valve is open. Red when valve is closed.

 

Hojo in SC

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Glad to hear you didn't completely panic and bolt to the surface.

My SM instructor drilled into me a good safety check; stop at 15 feet, look at your computer to make sure it is working, check both tanks visually and manually, do a buddy check with how your going to handle an 'out of air' situation.

I had an incident 2 weeks ago where I stopped at 15 feet and noticed my tank had a very bad leak from the valve (not the 1st stage). I can't emphasize enough that folks check theirs and their buddies equipment at 15 feet.
 

boulderjohn

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If you have water in your lungs call DAN or your doctor, it can lead to serious problems under some conditions.
A good friend recently aspirated like that and choked on it briefly before deciding the problem was over. (This was while eating, not diving.) A day later he began to feel ill, but he did nothing. He began to feel worse. He insisted he would be OK. His wife forced him to go to the hospital, where he stayed the next few days recovering from pneumonia. The doctor said that he would have been in the ICU if he had delayed treatment any longer.
 

Compressor

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You did not have air which is a problem. Thanks for posting so others can learn from this experience.
Also, your husband was around to help with a redundant supply of air I assume.

If you are still coughing, you most likely aspirated some water. Check with your doc especially if you are short of breath or develop a fever.

Thanks again for posting.
 

Searcaigh

Chromodoris gordonii
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I did inhale some water into my lungs in this incident and I am still coughing today.

Go see a doctor, the last thing you need right now is a lung infection due to whatever bacteria live in that water.

Moving this thread to A & I
 

mcohen1021

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Scary. I've done that once in 32 yrs of scuba, that's all it took for it to never happen again. I check my valve every time before I don my gear, and before I hop in, i have someone else check it.

Glad you're ok, and I guarantee you its the last time it will happen to you 👍
 

Edward3c

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@Lovestardust when you say gauges. Where these old fashioned pressure gauges (analogue) or electronic getting information from transmitters.

If the former, then investigate why the needle didn't move on the breathing check.
If the latter, remember electronic gauges can take up to 20 seconds to register a change in pressure. One or two breaths may not register at all. Hence why I still have analogue gauges even with transmitters and computer.
 
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