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Out of air incident.

Discussion in 'Near Misses & Lessons Learned' started by cbl, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. cbl

    cbl Registered

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
    I had a close call diving with a resort group in Cuba this week. The dive centre is very well equipped and the staff are all very well trained SSI pro's and have years of taking groups of all levels diving. The group of 7 divers consisted of 2 staff divers and 5 clients. We were assigned dive buddies during our briefing and the diver I was with had a few dives and was a certified PADI open water diver. We initially worked our way down to 85' and the DM inquired about everyone's remaining air. My buddy indicated he had 1/2 tank. I was about 2100 psi so he was either hard on air or misreading his gauge. Further into the dive, we were at 70' and the DM inquired again of everybody and my buddy gave the "OK" sign, which I thought was strange as I was down to about 1500 psi, so at the previous rate he would have been closer to 500 psi.. He was busy taking pictures, so I figured he may have been using up air quicker than others. I decided to stay close by. A couple minutes later I heard a a muffled sound, and he had already ran out of air, replaced his regulator with his octopus out of panic thinking there was going to be air, and he had the wide eyed look of death. I was able to get to him, replace his octopus with mine, and get him to surface.
    Here's what I learned:
    Buddy diving means staying close and paying attention to each other. Tell you buddy that before getting wet.
    The diver was from Canada and used psi. Cuba uses bar Maybe that caused confusion in the briefing.
    If you rent or use someone else's equipment - know how to use it and your buddies before getting wet.
    Take more training so you can react to your and others needs if required
    Don't be embarrassed to ask your DM or guide to explain things if you don't quite understand. Possibly the Spanish to English translation caused an issue.
    It could have been a lot worse.
  2. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board Staff Member

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    Here's a quick trick. With a new buddy, check their pressure at the surface and then after you consume 500 psi. Now you can guesstimate where their gas is. When you think they are down to a 1000, ask again.

    The time this won't work is when one of you gets excited... you'll know this by the stream of air coming out of their regs.

    Edit: Learn to listen to your buddy breathing underwater, both the sound and the rate. If anything changes, go check out your buddy as they are probably in trouble. They may not even know it yet, but the breathing is a good indication.
    shoredivr, Hoag, KatieMac and 12 others like this.
  3. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    And now YOU know that if your buddy's air is a concern, you don't look at his hand signals, you look at his SPG.
  4. flyboy08

    flyboy08 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: NYC
    Grab your buddies pressure gauge if you have/had doubt and physically look at it? It's hard to be matched up with strangers....I only dive with friends and those I've dove with before.

    I have the same rule on week long motorcycle trips! If we haven't ridden together before, don't even ask....tough stance, but I've seen issues in my years of experience.
  5. sunshower

    sunshower Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Glad it worked out, good job being there for him! You identified a number of good lessons; I'd just re-emphasize your first one - stay close, especially with new buddies/divers. There's no substitute for proximity when the sh!t hits the fan.
  6. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Contributor

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    I hope your buddy bought the beer.

    I'm with tursiops, check the SPG yourself. I've been known to shove an SPG in a buddy's face as a lesson on awareness priorities, but I've also been called an ahole more than once.

    As for psi/bar, analog gauges can still be read as 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, and you should be back on the surface before the needle hits the pin.

    Good save

  7. RyanT

    RyanT ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Maryland
    I'm with Bob DBF on this one. I dove a couple of years ago in Australia using a bar gauge. It was the first time I had ever seen one. Regardless, it was pretty intuitive, that when the needle creeps closer to red zone, it's time to end the dive. Not really rocket science! Indeed, that guy should have been buying the beer.
  8. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

    When I'm diving with people I don't know I do an air check after 10 minutes, which I then compare to my own pressure. For example, if the diver says he has 120bar and I have 150bar then there's a good chance that by the time I'm down to 100bar he will need to surface. Therefore, in this example, when I'm at 120 I'll check again and usually that's spot on the point at which the diver needs to start thinking about ascending to the safety stop.

    I use this technique while giving lessons as well and as long as nothing out of the ordinary happens after the 10min point I can guesstimate the turn point and the diver's pressure at the end if the dive pretty accurately knowing only what their pressure was at the 10min point.

    As for the bar versus psi thing. I needed to make that same switch when I moved to Europe and it was a total no-brainer. In fact, working in bar and liters is by FAR easier on the mental math than working in psi and cubic feet. When it comes down to it, if you ignore the numbers then the spg works just like the fuel gauge in your car. Empty is empty regardless of what scale it's in. Your buddy was clearly not paying attention and he was lucky you were being a diligent buddy for him.

  9. fmerkel

    fmerkel Contributor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Salish Sea (Seattle)
    New divers general suck air fast. Just expect it unless proven otherwise.
  10. dumpsterDiver

    dumpsterDiver Banned

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    I don't use hand signals for pressure ever anymore. I will just show my gauge and expect my buddy to do the same.

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