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Immediate CESA Vs. looking for your buddy...

Discussion in 'Advanced Scuba Discussions' started by Bigeclipse, Apr 9, 2019.

  1. Bigeclipse

    Bigeclipse Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: USA - New York
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    I was just thinking about something which happened to 2 divers I know. It was an OOA situation. The non-OOA diver was pretty experienced but this was their first out of air incident and the OOA diver was pretty new to diving (just got Advanced open water diver). So let me describe the dive. We were diving a cold deep dive (which I understand some argue against anyways). The depth was right at about 95ft and the bottom temps about 45F so we are talking 7mil suits or drysuits. it is a wreck dive with a decent line that goes to the wreck. We all get to the bottom of the line (4 of us, two buddy pairs). Everyone flashes the ok sign so my buddy and I proceed first to the wreck while the other 2 follow behind us. We get to the wreck and I notice the other two are not there so im thinking maybe they are checking out a different part of the wreck (the site is a big circle so im thinking they went right while we went left). This lake has about 20ft of visibility. Anyways, it turns out that the recently certified diver's regulator failed and he was getting mouthfull of water with every breath, and his backup reg did the same! (we found out later that he had not had them serviced since he purchased them and they were very old regs so who knows when they were last serviced!) All his previous dives that weekend were in warmer shallower water so im thinking the cold and depth contributed to the failure and why they functioned on the other more shallow dives. Fortunately they both survived and told us the story. When his regs failed he looked to his buddy and signaled OOA! That buddy immediately took the reg in his mouth and donated it to him allowing him to get a breath but in the panic of it all he could not find his spare regulator so signaled back to the OOA person to give it back so he could get another breath. The OOA person then decided to simply do an emergency CESA to the surface. It was a bloody mess and they are both fortunate to be ok. Needless to say, he got new regulators and now on every dive they practice OOA drills and such (assuming they have extra air and time to do so).

    This all got me thinking...unless you have OOA procedures basically burned into muscle memory, would it just be better to do a CESA? The reason I say this is what if the OOA person didnt find that buddy right away, thus spending a little more time down below and when they go to do a CESA end up drowning on the way up? What if as soon as they had a failure, instead of looking for a buddy just start immediately doing a CESA? Of course you dont want to shoot to the surface either, due to embolisms and such but I think most people could probably CESA from 100ft and be ok, assuming they had the last breath of air to do so. This is all speaking in terms of rec diving and not tech diving where deco is an issue. For me, I only have one dive buddy that I trust. We do many drills all the time. If he is not available to dive and I dive with others, I treat it like a solo dive and prepare as such. (Honestly, I tend to dive sidemount doubles OR sling a 40cu on rec dives. I like to be overly cautious)
     
    Khrissi likes this.
  2. jgttrey

    jgttrey Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Houston
    402
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    A CESA from that depth is no joke. It all comes down to circumstances. If your buddy was 40' away and swimming away, you might not have a choice, I guess. But, I would darn sure try to sort it out and share gas before going ballistic for the surface. You have more time than you think to sort out the regulators. I'd sure give the air share the college try.
     
    Khrissi and BikerBecca like this.
  3. Bigeclipse

    Bigeclipse Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: USA - New York
    382
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    CESA is never a good situation, fully agree there, but I dont think a 100ft swim is really that difficult (especially going upwards) and I am by no means in good shape (220lbs 5'9). Ive done it many times horizontally in a pool with all my gear on and find while uncomfortable and short on breath...it doesnt seem hard at all. Ive gone 150ft before I really start struggling. Maybe im missing something though?
     
  4. KWS

    KWS ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SE TEXAS
    3,937
    831
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    this is one very good reason that new ow's generally do not belong at 100 ft. Its much better to learn the reality of these things at 30-40 ft.
     
  5. Bigeclipse

    Bigeclipse Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: USA - New York
    382
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    I agree. I did not know his little experience prior to the dive.
     
    KWS likes this.
  6. Graeme Fraser

    Graeme Fraser Tech Instructor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Narnia
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    Also bear in mind that you may not have full lung of air at the beginning of a CESA. It's one thing doing it in a training environment with three good oxygenated breaths, quite another with half a breath and your heart pounding.

    Fortunately it's very easy to avoid by a) checking your kit, b) checking your air and c) staying close to your buddy.
     
    Schwob, Wingy, Diving Dubai and 3 others like this.
  7. mtngoat2674

    mtngoat2674 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location:
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    This is where problem solving and thinking on your feet comes in. There is no one right answer in this situation as there are too many variables. Experience and knowledge plays a part, as do the exact circumstances surrounding orientation and distance between the two divers. I would look for a donor prior to contemplating a CESA if I was diving with a buddy or in a group. Other factors in contemplating a CESA vs searching out a buddy include further removing yourself from the buddy/group, surface hazards (like boats), environmental hazards that you may not see (entanglement), and your potential gas loading at that point in the dive. Assessing these issues while under extreme stress requires experience and skill.

    While I see the validity of the question, the biggest concern here is that a diver allowed his gear to go without being serviced and being untested (or possibly unsuitable) for the conditions. Your post didn't mention the make/model of the regulators, but many regulators are not suitable for cold water. Equipment choice may be a factor here as well. Contemplating and planning for what you may do in any given situation is a great idea, but in this case, also be sure to contemplate what could have been done to prevent the situation in the first place.
     
    Schwob, The Chairman, Steve_C and 6 others like this.
  8. runsongas

    runsongas Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: California - Bay Area
    2,836
    950
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    sounds like an argument for backup necklaces and practicing buddy breathing.
     
  9. Bigeclipse

    Bigeclipse Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: USA - New York
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    fully agree. I honestly do not know the person well and found this all out after the dive. The regs were suitable for cold water but had not been serviced in like 10+ years!
     
  10. Bigeclipse

    Bigeclipse Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: USA - New York
    382
    29
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    yeah I explained to them what me and my dive buddy do. I also brought in the argument for carrying your own pony (30cu) at least for those kind of depths.
     

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