Scuba Diver Out of Air and Emergency Ascent - Buddy failure

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jagfish

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Scuba Diver Out of Air and Emergency Ascent - Buddy failure
This event was sent to me by Louise R, an out of air emergency from 2017. Two divers on a working dive, one runs low on air and cannot communicate this to the more experienced diver. Shortly after this miscommunication, the diver runs out of air totally, loses his buoyancy and is unable to reach the unaware buddy for an air share. The only option left for this out of air diver is an emergency ascent to the surface (from 13m), which he does successfully with no lasting injuries or effects.

 

SlugMug

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Here's a question I find interesting:

If you were in a similar situation, and your buddy rocketed to the surface like that, which standard safety protocols would you normally skip or cut short? And from what maximum depth would you do that from? I'm not rescue-diver trained, but I'd imagine something like that question (or something like it) might be part of that class. I'd expect at about 40ft, I'd follow ascent procedures, but skip or severely shorten the safety stop to check on the buddy, if I saw them make an emergency-ascent. If I simply lost the buddy, I'd surface normally though.

This definitely shows the importance of remembering basic hand-signals, which admittedly is an area I could use improvement on, so this is a good reminder.

I suspect their intent was not to act as a standard buddy-pair that surfaces together. I strongly suspect the sidemount diver wasn't planning on surfacing at the same time as the diver filming, given he has twice as much air & had a job to do according to the description. I'd also suspect the side-mount diver mostly dives solo (which I do too).

As noted in the video, air-share in side-mount isn't the same as a standard backmount configuration. Someone grabbing the wrong regulator could cause problems, essentially yanking both regulators away from the side mount diver. Personally, my long-hose, which would be used to donate is a very bright color. (neon wire-sleeves are great).

The youtuber mentions wet-notes. Those are great, but writing "out of air" on wetnotes, when you're completely out is not the most practical.
 

BlueTrin

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Here's a question I find interesting:

If you were in a similar situation, and your buddy rocketed to the surface like that, which standard safety protocols would you normally skip or cut short? And from what maximum depth would you do that from? I'm not rescue-diver trained, but I'd imagine something like that question (or something like it) might be part of that class. I'd expect at about 40ft, I'd follow ascent procedures, but skip or severely shorten the safety stop to check on the buddy, if I saw them make an emergency-ascent. If I simply lost the buddy, I'd surface normally though.

This definitely shows the importance of remembering basic hand-signals, which admittedly is an area I could use improvement on, so this is a good reminder.

I suspect their intent was not to act as a standard buddy-pair that surfaces together. I strongly suspect the sidemount diver wasn't planning on surfacing at the same time as the diver filming, given he has twice as much air & had a job to do according to the description. I'd also suspect the side-mount diver mostly dives solo (which I do too).

As noted in the video, air-share in side-mount isn't the same as a standard backmount configuration. Someone grabbing the wrong regulator could cause problems, essentially yanking both regulators away from the side mount diver. Personally, my long-hose, which would be used to donate is a very bright color. (neon wire-sleeves are great).

The youtuber mentions wet-notes. Those are great, but writing "out of air" on wetnotes, when you're completely out is not the most practical.
INHO you should do what’s safe for you first and then try to help after.

But one thing to remember if that there is a difference between mandatory deco and safety stop.

In this case they were at 13m, so if they didn’t accumulate deco, I’d have probably gone to the surface without the safety stop if I saw my buddy disappearing to the surface after being OOA. (Didn’t watch the video though)
 

hedonist222

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INHO you should do what’s safe for you first and then try to help after.

But one thing to remember if that there is a difference between mandatory deco and safety stop.

In this case they were at 13m, so if they didn’t accumulate deco, I’d have probably gone to the surface without the safety stop if I saw my buddy disappearing to the surface after being OOA. (Didn’t watch the video though)

What if that was your third dive after two deep dives all back to back (with sufficient surface interval of course).
 

markmud

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What if that was your third dive after two deep dives all back to back (with sufficient surface interval of course).

Hi hedonist222,

If you are within NDL limits, you are within NDL limits. I would make a CONTROLLED ascent to the surface and make sure my computer indicated I was not in a staged decompression mode. The safety stop is not mandatory nor theoretically necessary.

The slight chance that I may get a minor DCS hit is worth the risk because my buddy may need IMMEDIATE help.

Cost to benefit ratio.

cheers,
m
 

SlugMug

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INHO you should do what’s safe for you first and then try to help after.

But one thing to remember if that there is a difference between mandatory deco and safety stop.

In this case they were at 13m, so if they didn’t accumulate deco, I’d have probably gone to the surface without the safety stop if I saw my buddy disappearing to the surface after being OOA. (Didn’t watch the video though)

Hi hedonist222,

If you are within NDL limits, you are within NDL limits. I would make a CONTROLLED ascent to the surface and make sure my computer indicated I was not in a staged decompression mode. The safety stop is not mandatory nor theoretically necessary.

The slight chance that I may get a minor DCS hit is worth the risk because my buddy may need IMMEDIATE help.

Cost to benefit ratio.

cheers,
m
Thanks for the responses, I had somewhat forgotten the difference between mandatory deco & a safety-stop. Minor DCS is very treatable, and I have DAN, so if I felt funny after I could always take advantage of that (obviously not ideal, but it's an option).
 

Bob DBF

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The problem started on the surface. Before I splash with a new buddy I make sure they know how to get air in an emergency, since I use a "long" hose and bungee backup, which is not a prevalent configuration here.

I have a couple of other quirks I cover in my pre-dive briefing, but that's the relevant one for this thread.

As for an emergency return to the surface 60'/min is the maximum ascent rate, and a safety stop is not required. I was trained when it was the norm and have done it most of life, without ill effect, I would certainly do it for a buddy in distress. A lot of fatalities have started with the loss of a buddy, if that is prevented the odds for a safe dive go up.
 

MaxBottomtime

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If you allow yourself to become low on air at 78 feet, you need more than a buddy. You need a refresher course. Other than a catastrophic gear failure, there is no good reason to run out of air. The diver should have begun ascending the second he realized he was low on air if he wasn't in communication with his buddy.
 

Dan G

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Plenty of blame to go around here and lots of opportunities to learn for both the sidemount diver and diver #1. The gas management of diver #1 was the primary cause of this and perhaps diver 1 was distracted by their own filming. I would not be surprised if other videographers/photographers had stories of suddenly realizing that they had not checked their gauges in an inordinate amount of time, as well. From my limited experience of photographing recreationally, it can be easy to become distracted/hyper focused on a subject.

I find it difficult to excuse the sidemount diver for turning away from diver 1 when diver 1 was clearly trying to signal something. Perhaps diver #2 was distracted by the task of the dive and became hyper focused on completing the task rather than communicating with his buddy. Granted, as MaxB stated above, Diver 1 should not have OOA in the first place.
 

johndiver999

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I think that if I needed air and my signals were not immediately understood and acted upon by the other diver, I would have just grabbed the reg from his mouth. That would be a pretty clear sign of my desires.

I actually tell new buddies to do this to me. I have an Air 2, so I specifically tell them, "hey if you need air, just take the reg from my mouth, I PROMISE I will notice right away". I follow that up with: "The pony reg and the AIr 2 are for me".
 
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