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Discussion topic - buddy separation protocol

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba' started by DaleC, Feb 14, 2009.

  1. b1gcountry

    b1gcountry Divemaster

    # of Dives:
    Location: Middle
    My wife and I have an agreement to meet back up on the anchor line for any boat dive we do if we get separated.

  2. HowardE

    HowardE Diver Staff Member

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Boca Raton, Florida
    SS - yes. Is it a deco stop? Yes. Should you decompress on deeper dives - even if you don't exceed an NDL? Many researchers will say "yes". Bottom line is... Putting yourself potentially in harms way to worry about your buddy isn't a great idea. If something DOES happen to you, because you blew your stop, and something DID happen to your buddy. Now there's two victims instead of just 1.

    People who dive should carry an SMB. Be it a safety sausage, lift bag or whatever. (should - many don't)

    Like I said before... what's worse? 1 body or 2? Not to sound cold here.. but think about it.
  3. gcbryan

    gcbryan One Bad Hombre

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Seattle
    For me it's not a matter of a missed safety stop it's a matter of doing what makes sense and for the most part that is doing something predictable. If you discuss this issue with your buddy before the dive then do whatever you agreed to do.

    Of course, you do have to think and the actual situation may require you to do something different but in general it matters more that you do what you agreed to do than what you actually do.

    If I'm diving with someone where we haven't discussed this extensively I'll do the 1 minute thing because more than likely that's what they expect.

    If I'm diving with my most regular buddies I'll search for 1 minute, surface for 10 minutes and then go back down and search until I have to come back up. That's what I prefer. Calling 911 is just body recovery. This only works when everyone agrees and is comfortable solo diving.

    I have one friend that "disappears" frequently and yet I like diving with him so in his case we never surface and just continue with the dive and usually find each other as well. I don't invite him to go on all dives but when I do a dive with him I'm prepared to dive this way.

    Again, to me it's just more important to do what ever you agreed to do.
  4. J.R.

    J.R. Divemaster

    Ok... let's try this again... WHY is the safety stop even in question? If it's a simple separation issue the "lost buddy" should be doing a SS anyway which... assuming you both realized each other got lost at about the same time... would put both you and your buddy on the surface at about the same time... what is so urgent about getting to the surface that you can't do a safety stop?

    Or is the REAL question more related to the inherent value of a safety stop and the "lost buddy" bit just a rational sounding arugment for justifying NOT doing a safety stop?

    Sorry... but I really fail to understant the basic thrust of the OP's question...
  5. gcbryan

    gcbryan One Bad Hombre

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Seattle
    I'm not answering anything for the OP of course but everything should be in question as in that's what thinking people do...question.

    If someone is a lost buddy they might also be a buddy having a heart attack on the surface or some other problem. It's hard to know with a lost buddy. You have to make assumptions and if you choose to assume that nothing urgent is taking place then you could choose to do a safety stop you could also choose not to.
  6. DaleC

    DaleC Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Leftcoast of Canada
    just to clarify JR, I believe in SS's and do them on pretty well all of my dives. However, a recent lost buddy incident at the end of a deep dive showed me an apparent "conflict" between two proticols that I had never heard discussed in training before. I've resolved the issue for myself (shoot a bag and do the SS) but I thought it would be a good topic for others to consider their approach to the problem.

    There's no other motive than that.
  7. Reg Braithwaite

    Reg Braithwaite Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Toronto, ON
    One perspective is that choosing to do a required safety stop has nothing to do with believing that a lost buddy is not an urgent problem. You do it because you wish to avoid the possibility of creating two victims.

    As given in the OP, this is a required safety stop in the PADI protocol. Some folks say it isn't really required for whatever reason. I'm 100% in favour of working things out for myself, so I do not advocate blind, unthinking obedience to anything.

    So I can understand someone getting to the point of not believing that a "required" safety stop in the PADI protocol is meaningful. They could, for example, believe that there is no science behind it, and that it was stuck in because divers were violating the ascent rate protocol and this was a way of slowing them down, and that if you ascend at 30 ft./minute ther eis no statistically meaningful benefit to teh safety stop.

    True? Not true? I don't know, but I wouldn't argue with anyone who believes this. But what I would say is this: If you have lost faith in PADI's tenets, you might be happier finding a protocol you respect. And if that protocol calls for a stop, you would make it after searching for a lost buddy.

    All this is JM2C, of course, but I agree we need to separate the two issues: The first issue is whether you would take on additional risk of DCS in the event of a lost buddy. The second is whether you trust PADI's protocol.
  8. J.R.

    J.R. Divemaster

    The problem with all of the above is the word *assume*... let's look at it a bit closer...

    If you're diving and suddenly look around and realize you're missing your buddy... what do you KNOW?

    1. Buddy is not present.
    2. If you and your buddy are competent you're both diving the same protocol

    ... end of what you "know".

    My point is that if you don't have any other knowledge than this you follow the protocols you dive by... if it adopts the the PADI safety stops... you make them. If it doesn't... you don't.

    To address DaleC's original question... I really don't see any conflict... in the case of the PADI protocols it says look for your buddy for one minute and then surface. It doesn't say that you need to surface within one minute... Again.. if you and your buddy are following the same protocol your buddy should be surfacing at the same rate (30 f/s or 60 f/s) as you... doing the same SS as you... and hitting the surface *roughly* the same time you do (assuming you both realized you had a missing buddy issue at approximately the same time)...

    In any case, to *assume* a crisis scenerio that would cause you (generic "you"... not referencing anybody specifically) to alter your dive profile in a way that violates any safety protocols you would have normally followed indicates to me that you're either in a panic state yourself... or have a hero complex. In either case YOU'RE not thinking. You put safety protocols in place for a reason... without evidence of an actual crisis situation there is no reason to violate them... and a lost buddy is not definitionally a "crisis"... (If you think about it... *if* you're in a situation where the "manditory" SS is required... and *if* your buddy had a heart attack during the time he went visually missing... violating any personal safety protocols to get to the surface faster to find out probably isn't going to alter the outcome...)

    ... again... two victims does not a rescue make... to assume that you need to risk personal safety for something suggests an assumption that somebody needs to be rescued.

    Now... IF your buddy HAS a heart attack... and within your vision... whether or not you violate a safety protocol becomes a personal judgement call and one that I don't believe can be made outside of the moment. But, without clear knowledge of a crisis... I don't believe you should do anything that might create one...
  9. HowardE

    HowardE Diver Staff Member

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Boca Raton, Florida
    If your buddy has a heart attack, and there's no boat around to make a quick rescue... Your buddy most likely won't make it either way.

    You can't perform CPR or defibrillate the victim on or in the water.
  10. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    It really helps to understand a little deco theory and know a little history.

    For years, people ascended at 60 fpm and did no safety stops. DCS was sporadic, but not rampant. Of course, bottom times were limited, both due to smaller tanks and due to diving tables, so nitrogen loads were probably not quite as high as people accumulate nowadays.

    Tables are inherently pretty conservative, because they figure your nitrogen loading as though you are diving an absolutely square profile, spending all your time at your maximum depth. If your dive doesn't have that shape, you are already adding more conservativism to the tables, by spending time shallower than that max depth.

    Then you realize that different organizations have used and do use different tables, and those tables offer different maximum times and require different stops (if any).

    So nothing in that "close to NDLs" range is cut in stone. Therefore, the situation needs to be assessed for its own, unique characteristics, and you have to make the most intelligent decision you can. What you do know is that your buddy has a finite supply of gas, and people survive only a few minutes with nothing to breathe. If you surface and don't find your buddy there, and he doesn't arrive within a couple of minutes, then he needs to be looked for . . . And it takes time to get that done, either by you or by anybody else. Time spent in optional stops is gas your buddy has used before you begin to look for him. You are the only person who can make a decision as to whether you believe your risk of DCS (which is almost certainly well below 5%, even if you omit your stops and accelerate your ascent to 60 fpm) is concerning enough to you that it outweighs the urgency of locating your buddy. If you've dived with this person before and know he's a flake and takes off, you might well decide to do your stops, knowing the likelihood is high that he's fine and just being him. (The question of why you would be diving with such a person is another thing.) If you dive with this person regularly and he has NEVER gone missing before, then you probably spent more time at depth looking for him fairly hard, and you may well decide that as expedited an ascent as you feel you can safely do is called for.

    The reality is that a buddy, lost at depth and in trouble and not rapidly relocated, is a really bad situation. There may be no really good answers. But I know, for me, that if I carefully did all my stops on the way up and my buddy was never found, or was not found alive, I would always wonder whether the three or four minutes of deco I did were the minutes that could have made a difference.

    There are no cut and dried answers here. There aren't any for people who are truly under a mandatory decompression obligation, either (and this gets discussed by those people, too).

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