Reg Blow Out at 60 ft

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Hello, everyone.

Having gone through these forums a bit, now, I have absorbed a lot of great and useful information and I thought I might share a story of my own that others may learn from.

I am a relatively new diver, but I grew up on the coast in Southern California, and I am very comfortable in the water. I consider myself not prone to panic, at all, but it is something that I did not plan on testing myself with while underwater.

The story really starts in Cozumel, where the crew on the boat cracked the faceplate of my reg. It still functioned and seemed secure to me. I was in the middle of a wall dive when I felt the crack in the plate. Everything operated properly and I had no issues.

Diving again with my regulator like this was mistake #1. I was with a large group of people doing various certifications in the Valhalla missile silo. I was doing the deep specialty for PADI and my second dive found me at the bar they had lowered to 60 feet surrounded by people. I was not comfortable with so many divers around me (4 students in my group + instructor, plus an AOW class and an altitude class in the water). Too many people had obvious issues with their buoyancy and the moment I decided to move away from the bar I was kicked in the reg by someone who was ascending far too rapidly.

The reg came out of my mouth, which was annoying and painful, but not a big deal to me. I recovered it and used the air in my lungs to clear the reg.

What I didn't know was that the plate had been smashed and when I cleared, I blew the diaphragm out of the front of my reg. When I breathed in, I unexpectedly took cold water into my mouth and lungs. The adrenaline kicked in and I quickly grabbed my octo.

I held the purge button as I put it in my mouth, but I was coughing and sputtering and, essentially, vomiting up water and it was a terrible, terrible feeling. My fear response was taking over, but I managed (barely) to get the air that I needed. A few moments had past, and I began intellectualizing the incident and focused on regaining control over my breathing and getting the rest of the water out of my lungs. I don't know how long it took, but it seemed like forever.

No one noticed. I made my way up to 45' to find my instructor. My instructor and my instabuddy both had lights attached to their masks and the entire dive was annoying since they blinded me every time they looked at me. Because my instabuddy was the one having problems (he rented a dry suit and had terrible buoyancy), my instructor had to follow him up to help him resolve his issue. When he saw me again, I was on my octo and was waving my busted reg at him. He did not put two and two together. I made my way up to the hang bottles at 15', where I did my safety stop for three minutes. Still, no one noticed.

After my safety stop, I exited the water onto the platform and contemplated how close I had come to having lungs completely full of water. I can't say that I maintained my cool, but I was able to maintain a presence of mind enough to manage a bad situation to the best of my abilities.

The lesson I took away is to 1) don't use a reg that is not in perfect condition and 2) avoid diving with kooks whenever possible. I have taken too much time to learn lesson 2, because I have had nothing but problems with instabuddies in rented gear. I always bring my own gear, which I have had since I started diving and I hate to recall how much time I have spent getting other people sorted out in gear they are unfamiliar with. I suppose I will be much less likely to let crew handle my gear in the future, as well.

Feel free to criticize and share your thoughts, knowledge and experience.

Thank you,

Dan
 

t-mac

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Thanks for posting, Dan. I think you captured it. Unfortunately, unless you a have reliable dive buddy, it is hard to avoid 2. As for looking after your gear, I think this is a great example of why we need to do that. Don't screw around with life support. These things operate so reliably we tend to take them for granted when we shouldn't.
 

petrieps

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Dan,

Sounds like you handled it as well as it could've been handled for a new diver or an experienced diver. You should be happy with how you reacted.
You're mistake was diving with your gear in less than perfect condition. You should always inspect your gear after the dive day and make any necessary repairs before diving again. Even if its seams inconsequential.
Sounds like you learned your lesson and it's not going to deter you from diving again, that's good.
 

Doppler

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Well done for managing a whacked out situation that could easily have turned nasty. Poor judgement on your part to dive with gear you knew was broken. Also, wonder why the person leading the dive was not able to work out the issue you had... but we'll leave that alone for now.


Basic rule of scuba, keep breathing. Follow-on from it is making sure you have something suitable to breathe and that your kit will deliver it. Pre-dive checks must include hose and Oring inspection, valve seat and hand-wheel inspection, pre-breathing ALL regs AFTER a thorough visual inspection.

Good luck.
 

fdog

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Dan, kudos for "dealing with it". Most wouldn't have.



This gem was passed on to me in my ITC back in the 70's, and it is still valid today:

"If there's doubt, there is no doubt". This applies to everything - condition of your gear, buddies, weather, the way the boat's listing while at dock...everything.



All the best, James
 

Wayne at DiveSeekers

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Glad to hear that you made it to the surface safetly! I think as you stated, several things happened and when they do, they tend to snowball. Just going off of your post, two things to address maybe Communication & Instructor. Inregards to Communication, There was definitely a lack of it. The second something is wrong we do need to communicate with our team (whether it is your buddy or instructor) and do it clearly. There should be no way for a problem to happen at 60ft and not have clear communication about it until 15ft. As far as Instructor, after hearing this incident, it sounds like he poorly managed this class in regards to students and gear he is using. With students he should be able to have more control and if he is unsure of keeping that control, then one option is to do it with different ratios. In regards to gear (light on head, not a fan), as an instructor you should be in control of your gear and blinding your students with light is not controlling your gear and in this case almost compromised safety. Moving forward I would try to interview a couple of Instructors when inquiring about Training and find out about experience, what you will get out of the program, gear config beliefs/philosophies and ratios just to name a few.
 

ianr33

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OOA is an emergency,anything else is merely an inconvenience.

It's vital to always have an alternative source of gas. That can be a reliable buddy, or a pony/doubles/sidemount.

Question for you: I assume the failed reg was not losing gas? What if it was freeflowing? Would you be here to write about it?

Happy it all worked out for you!!
 

rigdiver

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Dan;
Kudo's also for handling a bad situation. Pat yourself on the back.
To echo Steve, seems there was a lack of control by the Instructor.
I was also told something similar to James at my ITC back in the 70's: "If there is a question, there is NO question!" I really do live by that when teaching/diving.

Bill
 

bleeb

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Well handled.

A couple of additional suggestion:

Try to stay closer to your buddy. If I understood you correctly, you were at 60 ft while your instabuddy was having problems on the other side of a large crowd at 45 ft with the instructor. If he was having a runaway ascent, you wouldn't necessarily want to chase him at full speed, but you would want to already be moving in that general direction unless it was already obvious he was back under control and moving back in your direction.

When you headed for the surface, did you signal a thumb to the instructor and your buddy? A thumb should be non-negotiable, and in general, they should be ascending with you, to make sure you're alright, especially given that it's a class and you've already had a significant issue with that dive.

'Next' time, if the instructor (or buddy) gives you a clueless look, I wonder if grabbing his octo and breathing off it for a bit might help get the point across that you've had a problem with your breathing source.
 
OP
danurtnowski
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OOA is an emergency,anything else is merely an inconvenience.

It's vital to always have an alternative source of gas. That can be a reliable buddy, or a pony/doubles/sidemount.

Question for you: I assume the failed reg was not losing gas? What if it was freeflowing? Would you be here to write about it?

Happy it all worked out for you!!

That is a good question. I don't know the answer. When the diaphragm came out of the front of the reg, the controlling mechanism opens all of the way, shutting off air flow. If it was free flowing, would I be able to breath from it?
 
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