When to render assistance and when not to?

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BLACKCRUSADER

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An interesting discussion on one of the forums about how close we should be to our dive buddy in case they need assistance. Not talking about OOA situation just general things that happen. Some people feel the need to rush in and assist right away. I prefer to let people try to resolve their own problems especially newer divers who need those experiences and they will gain confidence in their own abilities to manage things.

The other thing is that if I see a diver with a tank slip or caught in a fishing line or tangled up in their own dsmb line ( seen that a lot ) do you immediately go to help? Does a dropped weight prevent a diver retrieving it? A lost fin well nice if someone gets that for you.

Most of the time I would let the other diver try to resolve the issue themselves rather than rush over. There have been times when I see a diver in horizontal trim trying to dump air from their inflator hose. I have swam over to them and shown them there is a dump valve on the bottom right of the BCD and take their hand to the dump valve kept them horizontal and shown them how to dump air in that position. Many tell me their instructor never taught them this. I am like well you should also learn about the equipment and know where these things are from your buddy check. In 2019 I had a diver blow out his inflator module from his BCD at 30m. Quite a shocking moment for him and I went and attached my DSMB to his BCD ring inflated it and we did a nice slow controlled ascent. He was about to ditch weights and never thought of using the DSMB in this way. Better not to wait for him to descend into the depths too far lol.

Sometimes I've had to stop a diver from touching that coral which is in fact a mottled Talisad Scorpion fish. I did watch a French instructor put his finger into a hole I had been taking photos of a Mantis Shrimp of. I didn't stop that and he ended up with a missing finger nail and a broken finger. On another dive my buddy had his camera housing broken by one. That's the risk we take for some shots lol.
 

Barnaby'sDad

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I think you should give your buddy some space, but that you need to be close enough (your call on what that distance is) that you can render assistance if needed. If you’re not close enough to render assistance, you’re not a dive buddy...you’re just sharing the same body of water.

As far as helping out...if it looks like my buddy might need a hand resolving something, I close to within 6’ or so, hover, and wait for him to let me know if he (I have a regular dive buddy) needs me. If he can resolve the issue...I don’t butt in.

The big thing though is communication. That should start with a pre-dive brief. Also...pay attention to body language. If it looks like your buddy is struggling...”say” something/signal. Sometimes...people in stressful situations can get stuck in a loop/repeat the same actions that won’t help to resolve the problem. You might notice an issue before they do.
 

tursiops

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I think you should give your buddy some space, but that you need to be close enough (your call on what that distance is) that you can render assistance if needed. If you’re not close enough to render assistance, you’re not a dive buddy...you’re just sharing the same body of water.

As far as helping out...if it looks like my buddy might need a hand resolving something, I close to within 6’ or so, hover, and wait for him to let me know if he (I have a regular dive buddy) needs me. If he can resolve the issue...I don’t butt in.

The big thing though is communication. That should start with a pre-dive brief. Also...pay attention to body language. If it looks like your buddy is struggling...”say” something/signal. Sometimes...people in stressful situations can get stuck in a loop/repeat the same actions that won’t help to resolve the problem. You might notice an issue before they do.
Instructors often use a criterion of "let them work it out themselves so long as they are not in danger." The problem is, especially newish divers can take a minor non-dangerous issue and struggle with it and it can turn into a full-blown panic very quickly, complete with spitting out the reg and bolting for the surface. So stay close by, help them gently, avoid doing it for them if possible, but don't just ignore them and hope they solve it. So...it depends.
 
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BLACKCRUSADER

BLACKCRUSADER

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A diver can signal if they need assistance. So being close enough doesn't meaning rushing over. Many times I see people providing assistance before it was asked for and I think that's nice but why not let the diver resolve their own issues first. If we want divers with less experience to gain that experience we need to let them figure things out on their own. Sure you can notice an issue and alert another diver. Getting into a stressful situation and dealing with it is good for any diver. If they always have another diver rush in they tend to think they can always rely on other divers when they should not. imho.

I posted meaning in the less stressful situations.. I've seen divers with anxious faces in a fast drift or down current as it's the first time they have experienced it. I tend to be close by enough and do signal to make sure they are ok. Some will just want the re-assurance their dive buddy is aware of their needs and that helps them relax a bit. I've had divers come and want to have a hand hold for fear of separation in low vis or fast drift dive. I often dive with vacation divers who do not have many dives and some of them just seem to relax more knowing they are diving with an experienced diver. Good pre dive chats about being buddies is also a good thing and I will do that with a vacation dive buddy separate to the guides briefing. Often I an also find out what they are interested in seeing as some cannot identify the marine life and would not even know they are looking at a live animal if it was not pointed out to them.

Communication before and during and after the dive is important for the instabuddy vacation divers I get to dive with. Sometimes I will dive with a vacation diver for one or two or three days. For my regular dive partners we understand each other better and yes we give a little more distance and do perhaps check on each other less than with other divers.
 

tursiops

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I posted meaning in the less stressful situations..
There is where the judgement come in.
Your red-line may not be the same as the diver in distress.
If all you want to discuss is benign, no-stress, no-real-problem situations, fine.
But ANY of those situations can turn to crap in a few seconds.
 
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BLACKCRUSADER

BLACKCRUSADER

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There is where the judgement come in.
Your red-line may not be the same as the diver in distress. If all you want to discuss is benign, no-stress, no-real-problem situations, fine. But ANY of those situations can turn to crap in a few seconds.

Sure they can but not common to have that at least not in my last thousand dives. Anxious divers yes, one instructor with me was narced and not feeling the best at 40m but he was fine as we ascended but mainly most recreational divers are at shallower depths. Had a few nervous divers struggle with currents both going with and against. People can get distressed in calm waters as well. It's not hard to see if a diver is stressed often you can see it in their faces and by their actions when diving.
 

TMHeimer

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Depends on what you agree on and on visibility. Generally around here, for me that means maybe 5-8 feet? One buddy slightly behind the other (so head turning not a big hassle) or side by side. I haven't buddy dived in a while, but the only thing I can really recall fixing was a slipped tank. Guess I've been lucky.
My brother & I dive together once yearly (non Covid times). We agree to walk in together and a general air pressure to end dives. I usually assist him a bit gearing up in the water as he usually is renting some stuff. Other than that, it's a same ocean deal-- but only 20-30 foot depths.
 

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I remember when I was new and tried to decend from the surface by inflating my BC, had my finger on the wrong button. The boat captain was dying laughing. I learned my lesson so unless it is a dangerous situation, just sit back and laugh.
 

TMHeimer

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I remember when I was new and tried to decend from the surface by inflating my BC, had my finger on the wrong button. The boat captain was dying laughing. I learned my lesson so unless it is a dangerous situation, just sit back and laugh.
Yeah, or when I descended in the pool using my snorkel. Doesn't work well. Maybe just used to all the snorkeling I had done before taking OW and mixed it up with scuba?
 
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