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Why give primary instead of alternate regulator?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by ScubaRob0311, Oct 4, 2019.

  1. doctormike

    doctormike Medical Moderator Staff Member

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: New York City
    It's a pretty standard approach for technical open circuit diving, and for recreational divers who follow that time tested procedure. There are a million threads here about that but basically:

    The idea is that the donating diver is giving the victim what they know to be a working regulator. This type of gas sharing is built around the assumption that the OOA diver isn't going to just come up and mug the donating diver - who is unaware of what is going on - for gas. The donating diver is controlling the situation. Although from what I understand, a really panicked diver will go for the reg that they see in someone's mouth in any case, so you might as well be prepared for that.

    The basic assumption is that the OOA diver has been OOA and need gas immediately. So as the donating diver, you immediately plug what you 100% know is a working reg into that oxygen starved, panicking diver. That significantly improves the situation, for whatever happens next.

    At this point, the donating diver can take their time deploying the alternate for themselves. The donating diver has been breathing normally and has a minute or two before they absolutely need gas again. If there is any problem with the alternate, which is not uncommon, then you can move to buddy breathing or whatever, but you have at least ratcheted down the panic.

    AND, of course, the only excuse for running OOA is a catastrophic gear failure like a burst LP hose. So try to make it so this never happens!
    ScubaRob0311 and Diver below 83 like this.
  2. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    Do you have a regular buddy?

    Were you trained the same way?

    Will you be doing the majority of your diving in the United States or away?

    Will you ever be going on vacation without a regular dive buddy?
  3. ScubaRob0311

    ScubaRob0311 Registered

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: United States
    My wife is going to be my primary buddy and we were trained same way.

    What I am taking away though is that it really doesn't matter. You (the diver) are responsible for your own safety and after these replies here it seems that I would be irresponsible not to train both ways and to train having regulator taken from me.

    Thanks everyone for your great replies and food for thought!
    Diver below 83 likes this.
  4. barth

    barth DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Netherlands
    When your buddy is out of gas during a tech dive, it would be good to grab the regulator in your mouth. That gas he could breath.

    If your buddy just grab a regulator he can have oxygen (max depth 6 meter to breath).

    Breathing deco gas at the bottom can kill your buddy.
    BigEyes likes this.
  5. JackOfDiamonds

    JackOfDiamonds Advanced Corn Hole Diver

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: The Holy Land
    There are many arguments for either side but the main reason i donate my primary is because most of the times a panicking diver will only want one thing - your regulator. he sees you breathing off it and he will most likely tear it away from you as soon as you get close, even if you present him your octo in front of his face.

    When in full panic all logic and reason goes out the window, even if they know the octo is intended for this exact reason they would still gun for the one thing they see and know is working - your primary.
    Khrissi and rjack321 like this.
  6. ScubaWithTurk

    ScubaWithTurk Bubble Blowing Buddha

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Huntington Beach, CA
    I always donate the primary and discuss with my students, dive buddies (new ones) and anyone on a boat with me. Often times people on the boat have never seen a longhouse config and I want them to know they can yank my reg right out of my mouth and it won't phase me as my secondary is on a bungee around my neck.

    Now, one thing to consider is something I see often, a diver in the water with a typical rental type reg setup. Primary with Octo tucked somewhere in the triangle. The Octo falls out of the spot it is in and dangles around. Sometimes dragging in the sand or even free flowing. Not seeing this, you lose gas and if you are not well-trained you will not notice the loss of gas when checking your spg based on dive time and your known sac.

    But lets get back to the dangling octo in the sand. Either you see it or someone points it out. You resecure it off you go. Then your buddy has an OOG emergency, comes to you, signals and you donate the octo. The same octo that was dragging along earlier. It is packed with sand and the OOG diver can't get a breath and panic ensues. With primary donate and a bungeed secondary, this situation is eliminated. My secondary will never drag in the sand. If it free flows it is around my neck and easy to see and feel. The reg they get from me is one that is working. How do we know that? Well, I was just breathing off of it.

    Hopefully this take on it is a bit helpful.
    FreeFlyFreak likes this.
  7. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    Check your octo during the dive. Breathe off of it yourself. When you have a regular buddy and you are trained the same way, have your own gear with an effective way of keeping your octo in the triangle and not dragging in the sand, you should be able to still feel confident that your octo is going to work. Purge it a bit as you donate.

    Until the entire worldwide scuba community is diving primary donate with the longhose, it may behoove you to stick with your original training until you go tech.

    If you'll be diving in North America and possibly Great Britian,where it seems the transition to primary donate is already occurring (at least on the internet forums), then making the switch early may be best.

    However, if you'll be vacation diving around the world, especially without a regular buddy, learn to become quite a self sufficient diver, with or without pony. By this I mean, as I travel the world to dive, I can count on the fingers of one hand how many primary donate divers I have seen.
  8. Centrals

    Centrals Barangay Pasaway

    # of Dives:
    Location: Hong Kong
    Both methods would work.
    For recreational diving, donating the octo is still the most "common" way. But there are dive agencies believe otherwise.
    However, for technical diving donating the primary reg is more or less the standard.

    Configuration and equipment of the gear especially the type of BC used play a significant part in deciding which method to use on recreational diving.

    There is NO right or wrong.
  9. happy-diver

    happy-diver Skindiver Just feelin it

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Same ocean as you!
    An understatement would be that I dived with at least a thousand divers last year
    and no matter experience none of their gear exploded nor did they run out of air
    Perryed, Khrissi and chillyinCanada like this.
  10. bowlofpetunias

    bowlofpetunias Oh no, not again! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney Australia
    I have set up my gear for both just in case. I tell my buddy (if not my regular buddy) I will donate either.

    I am a not a technical diver but I have longer hoses than the average diver on both my primary and alternate. My alternate is the same quality and model as my primary. I check it regularly and it can be tuned or de-tuned as desired. I figure anyone who has gone OOA is going t want a good easy breathing reg. If I am dealing with a stressed out diver I want whatever I am using to be familiar and in good working order. I like a light breathing reg. I would also like to be able to have them on something that isn't keeping them tied too close for both of us to maneuver as comfortably as possible.

    I dive at sites where there are a lot of OW classes and new divers. I figure if one of them has a problem I shouldn't count on them being calm enough to politely take whichever I want to give them. My secondary is still in the appropriate V region I was taught but it is on a "necklace". I can easily locate and transfer to it.. or donate it. I also practice moving to my alternate on a fairly regular basis.
    happy-diver and chillyinCanada like this.

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