Successful emergency "test"

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jfe

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We are a group of tech and rec divers who dive together from a boat. We have our emergency protocol set out for different scenarios that may arise.

Yesterday we were diving a wreck at 36m (118ft). As per normal plans were discussed and everyone aware. We were 2 x 2 man and 1 x 3 man teams diving at interval thus always having at least one team on the boat. I was in the 3rd team, last to descend. We were ready to gear up as we track time of the 1st team in the water and knew they were nearing the planned end of their dive. Next thing a SMB surfaced about 20m (65ft) from the boat, away from the anchor line. At the time all senses starts kicking in.
1st Response was to ready an additional stage and the O2 stage as per our emergency plan and lower them down the shot-line for an OOA emergency (since they had deco time to do). We tracked the SMB movement and saw it's drifting away from the anchor line and not coming towards us, realising they are at drift. This changed everything again and we gone into "lost diver" mode. Having had the other team down as well we could not tell who was at drift, the 2 or 3 man team.
So onto the next set of protocols. We started one of the engines of the boat and revved it up three times as a signal to the divers below that there is an emergency topside. One kept an eye on the drifting divers following the SMB and I watched for the other group and saw they are not surfacing. Not knowing the emergency of the divers drifting, we tied a buoy to the anchor rope and detached the boat from it leaving it for the divers below to follow and for us a reference upon return. We sailed out to the SMB and approached at a snails pace, keeping the spare gas at a ready as well.
As we were reaching the SMB one of the divers from the 1st team surfaced and assured us there is no emergency, they lost the shot-line and had to drift on ascend. Both were recovered without incident. We returned to the market and continued our diving.

It is a good feeling that you have the assurance that proper plans are in place and you have people that can react sensible and calm when circumstances change. As we all know during a dive there are many things that can change in the wink of an eye and having proper emergency arrangements are of the highest priority, regardless the dive or location.
 

Waterwulf

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It's always a good thing to have an emergency plan, no matter what you're doing. It sounds like yours worked fine.

Quote.......We started one of the engines of the boat and revved it up three times as a signal to the divers below that there is an emergency topside.....Quote

We had a different type of emergency signal system on our dive boat that was very "high tech and programmable". We had a piece of heavy water pipe hanging from a davit so the pipe would hang down into the water. A smaller piece of pipe was attached with a cord. You could hear that pipe bonging for miles underwater. The "programming" of the signal was how many times you beat on the pipe! Three bongs meant "Emergency. Come home now"!
 

_Ralph

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I'm a huge fan of having names on SMB's ... just for the reason you brought up ... who's drifting?

Another option would be to have a second SMB go up if there is an actual 'incident' beyond not finding the way home (i.e. diver or equipment problem). You can send it up the first SMB line with a double ender. A slate with a note on it is extra gravy (i.e., send gas, call EMS, etc).

Otherwise, it sounds like you guys have your stuff in order and you followed them correctly.


_R
 

Todd Dicker

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I'm a huge fan of having names on SMB's ... just for the reason you brought up ... who's drifting
_R

I like this and will begin using it on my next dive. Thanks.
 

Akimbo

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The "programming" of the signal was how many times you beat on the pipe! Three bongs meant "Emergency. Come home now"!

It might be worth considering 3 or more "bong" procedure. The eliminates the potential for some not being heard and the actual procedure could be continuous 1-2 seconds apart.
 

Rred

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Names on SMB's, yes. Even simpler is to buy a piece of ScotchLite from a vinyl supplier, a graphics house, a truckstop. If your SMB has the blue Scotchlite added to the top, and mine has the yellow...instant recognition. And of course, either one really lights up if someone is looking for it at night. Adds a lot of daylight reflection as well.
 

Freewillow

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No SMB should have no name on it. I dive with a regular large orange SMB and a smaller yellow one. Both have my nam on it. The orange SMB, All is OK, Yellow and Orange, there is a problem.
 
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