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Bob's most recent post on the thread about Chad's death in the PNW struck me, as we had been talking about something similar this afternoon, related to the "buddy dragging you to the surface" thread.
A prime tenet of Rescue is not to create two victims, but at least in our class, the scenarios we specifically discussed generally involved one person out of the water, and a "victim" in the water. But what if you are there -- What if you are in the water with someone in distress, who has a serious potential for injury or death? What if the action you need to take to help puts you at risk, whether it's a panicked diver dragging you to the surface, or the possibility (not certainty) of running out of air if you go back to rescue someone who is unresponsive or severely impaired at depth?
Could you abandon someone in trouble, and how would you cope with it if that person were permanently injured or killed as a result?
I'm not kidding . . . These things happen. Lamont was involved in a rescue attempt this spring that failed, though through no fault of his. I know what I do for a living, and I am quite sure that I could not leave someone to die, no matter what the risk involved to me. I read people here blithely saying they'd yank their regulator out of someone else's mouth to avoid the bends, and I shudder to think of how they would feel if the person drowned as a result.
It's a downer topic, but like so many other things, probably something we should all give a little thought to in case it happens.
It may be a 'downer' topic, but well worth discussing
Not to be crass, but I honestly believe it depends on who the other person is.
I dive with my kids, most often my daughter, and there is nothing in the world that is going to stop me from helping them, nothing.
I also dive with some friends that I believe I would go to pretty great lengths to help, including endangering my own life. As a DiveCon, the same for students.
However, if it was someone from a dive boat that I didn't know and had just been paired with; I'm not so sure. I know I would go to reasonable lengths to assist. I also know that, like you, I have been in more than my share of (non-dive) emergency situations and have done well. But I believe there are limits to what I would do in the situation of diving with a stranger.
The second part of your question is the issue of coping. Also like you, I have been in situations that, despite my best efforts, someone has been injured or died. I think we all cope with that in our own ways. Personally, I don't buy that bravado persona, so I'm sure I would feel remorse, feel terrible. I also believe if I knew I did what I reasonably should have, knowing that we all understand the risks of what we do, I would probably be able to eventually deal with the emotion.
In all honesty, I'm not sure there is a good answer to this question other than what I said at the beginning of my post.
There is no doubt. Absolutely I could do it. I've given this a lot of thought. Here's my firm take on the subject:
I never dive with insta buddies these days. I've reached a place where I just don't need to do that any longer. I say that as a preface to give you a frame of reference. Its like this: I don't dive with strangers. I dive with people I know and love. My wife. My best friends, many good friends, some acquanintances, etc. It wouldn't impact my decision.
To anyone reading this - here's the bottom line. I will not give my life for yours. I love you all. I love you more than I can convey, but there are people on the surface that I love more, and I will not wreck their lifes by dying to save yours. I'll do everything I can for you, short of dying.
If it comes down to you or me, I'll send flowers and I'll sleep fine.
Deal with it, or don't dive with me.
And by the way, I expect the same from you. If I get in a bad situation and its likely I'll kill you having you get me out of it, you need to bolt. I know the risks, and my life is in order. Do not die for me.
I don't think there is a general answer to this question. Each situation is different. Although maybe it should not matter, would you not do more for someone you know than a stranger? Also what about the level of risk involved to the rescuer? Is this person a buddy or just someone else in the area? What is the probability of success of the rescue?
Fortunately I have only been in one truley life threatening situation (for me) where a buddy of mine ran out of air, panicked and bolted to the surface - the only injury incured was me getting a fractured rib from a fantastic underwater tackle and wrestling match as I crammed my octo into his mouth. That's about as far as I'm willing to go. If the situation involves going up quickly or some such thing where i'm almost guranteed to get seriously injured then buddy's on their own.
Example: One dive a few months ago, we're at 100 or so feet and my buddy's bc starts to auto inflate - long story short he panics and trys holding me in a death grip in an attempt to stay down (we're at about 100-110 ft). After finding al his dumps to be out of my reach as well as mine I saw no option but to make him let go, which invloved a well placed fist. Not something I involved doing, but he really had a much better chance of survival with me being unbent. Fortunately, nobody was, or has been in my diving experience, seriously hurt.
1) The question you asked. Would you do it and how would you feel
2) The reverse, if it was you and you panicked and dragged someone to the surface and both of you got bent, but the person you dragged up died. How would you feel?
On number 1, I don't think anyone can say for sure how they will react in an emergency. But cyberdiving, I'd say yes. I could do it.
As to number 2, I would not want to be responsible for someone dying or getting seriously injured because of something I did. I take steps to prevent being in situations that could have that outcome. I carry extra gas. I plan my dive. I try to ensure that I'm mentally and physically prepared. I practice with my buddies to deal with situations that may arise (sharing air, navigating, shooting bags, underwater communication etc). When I read accounts of people doing advanced dives, unprepared, without redundant gas, without proper planning etc, I think the question must be asked, why should I be at risk due to their lack of planning & concern for their safety? Note that the folks that I dive with regularly feel as I do regarding planning & practice.
The closest I've come to being in these conditions is in riding sportbikes. I've planned rides where people got hurt. No fault of my own, they decided to push further than they should have. I.E. their ego's wrote cheques that their skills couldn't cache. In the end, it was their choice.
I don't think there are many easy answers around these issues. And I repeat that IMO people won't know how they will actually react until they find themselves in the actual situation. But I do believe that not only is it valuable to think about this upfront, but this is an excellent discussion topic to have with the people you dive with.
People can speculate all they want but you just dont know untill your there. Id like to think I would just let them go but my Hx of 20 something years of EMS has proven to me that when push comes to shove I will put myself in danger to a reasonable level. If I can control a panicked diver and get them to the surface alive then it's worth some risk on my part. If I turn around and someone is shooting to the surface well beyond my reach, I'll go after them as fast as I can with resonable safety. Rember rec limits are called NDLs for a reason, you can asscend without stops, safely.
This is another "what if" kind of question that people think they know the answer too but that all changes when it realy happens.
Over the years I've known more than one person that lost their lives as a result of a "questional buddy". In one case the diver who died was even warned not to dive with the person who I believe "freaked" and left him...
That said, I don't think I could do it unless I felt I had no other choice or was acting instinctively. I've been in a few situations where students were acting less than ideal and the thought never even came to mind.
Like you in your profession - I have in the past and probably will in the future let go of some soul that just wasn't destined to make it. When God presses the smite button there is no escape - However - my favorite buddy - if she were in peril and I could not save her - I would wrap my arms around her and we would journey across to the other side as one.
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.
You're not lost if you don't care where you are - Jim Cooper
You find the best stuff when you're not looking for it - Eduardo Taran