First-hand account of down current, with video footage
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I think that one of the most valuable lessons learned here (if not already in previous experiences of any kind) for all three divers is what the panic bug FEELS like. Knowing it's there, and when it's coming, is the first step in learning to be able to squash it in it's tracks. Once one learns to see/feel the onset of panic they can work on strategies to mute it. Just like any feeling, panic can be controlled. It is also one of the most valuable feelings TO control because it's onset usually means there's trouble in the outside world, for which a calm controlled and deliberate attitude works best.
If it's not a feeling that you feel you would likely be able to control in the future, using the tools you already have in your repertoire, I would suggest looking into some meditation perhaps. It may well help you learn to control your mind and feelings rather than feeling helpless as they overcome you.
In any emergency self-control is paramount. As others have said, and all seem to agree, panic was one of the catalysts of this incident. Some will say it bluntly, some will sugar coat it. What's most important is how it's prepared for in the future.
Wow is what I have to say to this!!!! I will add he does feel real bad, but I don't think this kind of stuff is called for. What kind of criticism is this? sounds more like you telling us/him how he should feel.
If you watch the video the 2 that go down past my son is an INSTRUCTOR and her student, which needed help from the dm to reach the surface as well, she clung to the wall while the dm took her student to the surface and he (the dm) went back down to 165ft for the INSTRUCTOR!! So my comment is you were not there and have no idea what it was like, whatever was going on took down an INSTRUCTOR and why wasn't she able to help her student why did the dm have to go down and get them?
Also in the beginning of the video you can clearly see the diver swimming up from below my son and his bubbles are not going up! What happened with him, since you know so much?
No we weren't using Nitrox!
My intention is not to upset you or your family, but that is how I see the situation. Divers should strive to stay in control of things, because it really is a life or death issue. Of course people panic but it can be deadly even if it lasts for 2 seconds. A diver can kill themselves by taking a big breath and jumping off the bottom and heading to the surface in 8-10 ft. The injury can occur in 2 seconds.
A huge part of diving is understanding that a persons instincts are often the EXACT wrong thing to do in an emergency. You really have to understand that panic is very bad, not because it is embarassing. I'm glad you posted the video, I showed it to my son, it is very useful.
Your family failed to stay together, your son failed to control his buoyancy from the initial part of the dive and made no effort to stay together and then found himself in trouble. Maybe the conditions were very bad, I'm not really sure, but clearly the family did not follow normal recreational diving proceedures and it looked to me like the son nearly slipped away... if dad was just a little slower, the kid could have been at 240 or 260 feet before he caught him and then things would have been really serious.
As for an instructor getting out of control.... I've seen so many dive instructors that are neither strong nor skilled, that does not surprise me in the least.
Interrupting the panic cycle is something that should be one of the things taught in the OW class early on. Panic kills and when it happens it can often result in a would be rescuer dying as well. Perhaps the best way to interrupt it is not to put oneself in a situation that is beyond your ability or skill. Here it seems that did not happen. Proper buddy procedures were ignored, the planning process seems to have beem left up to the DM, and a lack of BASIC rescue skills nearly resulted in a tragedy.
"Camera guy" had no business on that dive. Son or not he made a decision to leave his buddy(s) and put himself and them in danger. Then he found himself in a situation where he required the assistance of another diver who did not have the skills that he should have to provide that assistance and had to make do with what skills and knowledge he did have. The result of this was an uncontrolled ascent that could have killed both of them had they forgot their training and held their breath. Easy to do when panicked. But they did not. What they did do however is leave the third person alone in a situation where had she got caught in the current no one was there to.assist and she could have ended up dead. All from not using proper buddy procedures and having no plan. That brings us to the DM.
He was allowed to plan the dive for the group. Big mistake number one. Number two his judgment of the divers abilities was relied on instead of their own. That alone has killed and hurt people. I.don't care if he was diving with them for a year. His judgment should never have been relied on like that. It's called a trust me situation. Another killer of divers.
Divers without basic rescue skills are scary as hell. And other than students who I will train to use them from open water on, I really don't want to dive with them. They should not be on any type of advanced dive and have no business on a wall where there is effectively no bottom in current. The judgment of the DM to take them to this site is another scary one. That he had been diving with them for days prior does not say much for his powers of observation. Camera guy had to have shown a tendency to leave the team and not be in total control. That is usually a pattern and shows poor judgment and a recklessness that would make me limit him to sites with a hars bottom at less than 60 ft.
Jim, I think you are putting the Cozumel dive industry out of business if you say that OW divers should not be taken down to walls with no hard bottom because a downcurrent may happen a couple of times a year. If you mean it, I'd be intersted in Cozumel's professionals views. Is diving the Cozumel walls safe for we beginners and recreational divers? If Jim is right, some major changes ought to be occurring.
Staying on topic I mean that divers with less than optimal buoyancy skills, poor buddy skills, no rescue skills, and those who rely on a DM to plan such a dive and allow them to.assess the divers skills for such a dive have no business on ANY wall dive period. Cozumel is not unique for this. It also happens in Grand Cayman. The death of a diver there on such a dive is what inspired my who is responsible post and in a way everything I have written and believe in as a diver and instructor to this point.
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I disagree and say that he should feel bad for panicking or at least for getting to that state.
Panic is an instinctive response to being faced with a problem you don't know how to resolve. It's an instinct that's been deeply ingrained in our brain over millenia of human development ... and not something we should feel bad about, but something we need to learn how to control. We do this by developing an understanding of what it is, and what's causing it to occur. That's a lot to ask of a child ... and one of the inherent dangers of children diving. Their brain simply hasn't developed a coping mechanism yet.
Panic is just shorthand for the "fight or flight" instinct that, on land, is a survival mechanism. Unfortunately, it was never designed to serve us in an underwater environment, and in that environment will more often get us killed than keep us alive.
Panic is not to be feared ... it is not something to feel bad about ... it's an inherent part of who we are. We all have the instinct to one degree or another. One of the most important lessons we can learn as divers is how to control it. That isn't a process that's even addressed well in most OW classes. Nor can it be, since the controlling mechanism involves greater degrees of competence and confidence than most of us come out of OW class possessing. This is why I agree with TSandM that dive sites that are known for these conditions are no place for beginner divers to be.
The best way to avoid panic is to not put yourself in a situation you're not equipped to deal with ... and if you find yourself in one, remember the adage "Stop, Think, and then Act" ... and understand that those five words are the underwater replacement for the fight or flight instinct that we all naturally possess. Unfortunately, it takes a diver a bit of practice and experience to learn how to "reprogram" an instinct ... and for a child, it's an even more difficult thing to do.
It was just below freezing and snow was falling steadily. As we stepped toward that portal separating a cold and dreary world from the tranquility and wonder of another dimension teeming with life and color a passer-by shook his head and muttered "crazy". Poor fool. If he only knew. (Airsix)
You know, in reading more posts on this thread, one thing strikes me -- the instructor and student who got stuck at 165 were each rescued by the DM -- so the DM was able to go down to that depth, TWICE, and bring people up . . . that means that it was quite possible to get out of the situation, because the DM did it TWICE. We then have to ask: What did the DM know, or what could he do, that he could easily enough manage the problem, where four other divers were unable to do so? I AM a DM, so I know that designation doesn't give anybody magical powers I think the reason the DM could do what nobody else was able to do is simply that he recognized what the problem was and took appropriate steps to cope with it. That's where the whole fear/passive thing is so scary, is that when in the grip of it, the diver neither analyzed the problem nor took any appropriate steps to solve it.
We can all be overfaced, and it isn't always possible to know when you are going to run into something outside of your scope. But as has been said before, a dive into an environment with no bottom inside recreational depths, in high current, is not a novice dive, and both the family and the dive guides should have known that.
The story also says NOTHING about the experience of the DM vs the stuck Instructor, neither in regard to number of dives, nor experience with currents.
Still though the video is a very visual demonstration of what messy conditions coupled with some panic can do to your day..
Panic is an instinctive response to being faced with a problem you don't know how to resolve. It's an instinct that's been deeply ingrained in our brain over millenia of human development ... and not something we should feel bad about, but something we need to learn how to control.
Succinctly put. I realise I should have put a lot more effort in to constructing a more constructive comment to what was a very harrowing experience for the family involved.