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Sunday, a diver died at a local site, because she and her buddy ran short of gas at depth, and she ran out on ascent, panicked, couldn't get positive at the surface, sank and drowned.
My husband is taking his instructor course right now, and has been told in no uncertain terms that he may NOT teach SAC rates or gas planning based on individual consumption at the OW level.
Please -- If you are a new diver, an OW diver, someone contemplating getting certified to dive, or anybody else who hasn't been taught some gas management, read my friend NWGratefulDiver's article on gas management. It will give you some tools to keep you safe, and some tools to know ahead of time which dives are likely to get you into trouble.
Having the tools to set safe parameters for your own dive is, to me, a critical part of diving education. If instructors are being forbidden to teach this, we can only try to get the information to people in other ways.
Last edited by TSandM; March 28th, 2009 at 01:18 PM.
Reason: edited for clarity, and to get rid of the charge of passing misinformation
I whole heartedly agree! My husband thinks he has enough gas for both of us, but if his gauges are wrong or his octo isn't working for some reason..I'm screwed! You and Peter rock! If you're new..Please read NWGratefulDiver's articles!!!
I have to admit to being very surprized about your husband's organization.
I have alway had two key teaching aspects on this issue:
1. As long as you have air, you can relax and deal with anything that comes your way.
2. Never, but never, run out air.
Obviously an uncontrolled free flow or some sort of sudden catastrophic event may mean you have to rely on your buddy's air, but even with those, planning a dive to cover them, is simply not that difficult.
I can think of no more important place to teach the basics than In OW..
On a large pile of smokin' A'a, the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. 2,175 miles to Alaska, 2,390 miles to California; 3,850 miles to Japan; 4,900 miles to China; 5,280 miles to the Philippines.
The training agency problem is that people are afraid of math and that teaching gas management will take too big a slice out of the 20 hours allotted for the course. I think it borders on the criminal.
I refuse to believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one.
"Too often ... people enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought" - Leapfrog
"They are the McDonalds of diver certification. Quick, inexpensive and tasty. Pardon me for saying so, but I also believe it to be a health hazard." - DCBC
"It truly does boil down to motivation ... if you believe something is hard, or unnecessary to learn, you won't learn it ... even if it's completely within your capability" - Bob (Grateful Diver)
My husband is taking his instructor course right now, and has been told in no uncertain terms that he may NOT teach gas management at the OW level.
Could you elaborate on this please? "Teaching gas management" could be interpreted in a variety of ways. Simply telling students to call the dive at an agreed on minimum pressure could be interpreted as doing so. I wouldn't agree with that interpretation, but some people would.
What exactly would you have OW students learn in their certification class in support of preventing OOA situations? It's an interesting topic and I'd like to hear your opinion on it.
Why did they run low / out of air? Was it because of not understanding gas management, or because they failed to watch their gauges?
Not being able to get positive at the surface might have been because she didn't know how to ditch weight.
I suggest that sufficient gas management can be taught at the Open Water level under any agency standards. It does not have to involve excessive math. A simple mention that many people recommend starting the ascent with one-third of their air remaining could go a long way.
I believe that OW students CAN be taught to calculate their gas consumption, even if in fairly gross numbers.
I believe that OW students SHOULD be taught that gas consumption will double or triple or quadruple with depth.
I believe that OW students should go through some calculations to show that leaving the bottom at 500 psi will not suffice at deeper depths, especially if one diver has any kind of gas problems. I believe that all divers should go through a calculation of how much gas is required to get two divers to the surface off the same gas supply, so that they can be impressed with how much of a small tank that is.
I believe all divers should be taught that some kind of gas planning belongs in the dive plan. But then, I also believe that all divers should be taught to put together an organized dive plan for every dive, even if it's simple.
I deeply believe that diving, if people are taught adequate skills and adequate planning, is a very safe and fun activity, and that the vast majority of diving deaths would be prevented by a better basic education.
These are my beliefs.
Last edited by TSandM; March 24th, 2009 at 11:06 AM.
Although I was not taught true gas management during my OW course, I was taught the rule of thirds which is a simplified gas management theory. Is that something that can be taught in more detail to new divers to avoid something similar from happening (or is it still beyond the limits of an OW instructor)? By following this rule, it gave me a very simplistic, easy to follow model, until I had the time to develop/gather some of the more detailed information associated with true gas management. Also, by following this rule, I never returned with less that 750psi in my tank, even in some more challenging conditions (as challenging as a newer diver can expect).
With all of that said, even the best of divers with refined gas management skills means nothing if you don't watch your spg and understand what your current consumption rate it.
Thanks for the post. Definitely reinforces the need to continually watch my SPG.
They didn't watch their gauges. But if someone had taught them how fast their gas would disappear at depth, maybe they would have been more vigilant.
She didn't drop weights or orally inflate her BC, because she was panic-stricken from having gone out of gas. I don't know if they shared gas, or if she bolted when she ran out. They were both low, from the article I read.