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Solo Diving: PADI Worldwide's Position

Discussion in 'Solo Divers' started by scuba dew, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. scuba dew

    scuba dew Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: holiday florida
    Solo Diving: PADI Worldwide's Position
    Drew Richardson Senior Vice-President, Training, Education, Environment and Memberships, PADI Worldwide

    Why PADI advocates the use of the buddy system

    The buddy system in use today for scuba diving came from a decades old water safety concept found in swimming and lifeguard training. It was adopted because it applied to diving and because it made good safety sense. Early support of buddy diving safety procedures was referenced by Jacques Cousteau and the crew of the Calypso in the book "The Silent World". The goals of training divers include developing the skills to take responsibility for themselves and to be self-reliant. The buddy system provides divers in training with a safety redundancy to this skill base that diving alone simply cannot provide. PADI has, and will continue to, train divers using the buddy system based on its proven benefit to diving, divers and diving safety.

    Practicality & Convenience

    The buddy system has provided tangible contributions to millions of dives. Buddies provide an extra set of eyes and hands for each other. Providing assistance in putting on equipment, adjusting straps, assisting with weights and tanks, entering the water, helping to load and unload gear are but a few practical arguments that support the buddy system.


    The roots of the buddy system arise from diving and water safety. Early days of diver training heralded the buddy system as an important safety procedure because only through the buddy system could a diver reasonably expect to escape from entanglement, entrapment, out of air situations, disorientation, a head injury, chest pains, cramping and dozens more. Diver training and diving equipment have improved, yet these same values apply today. Like all safety-based systems, the buddy system is not perfect. However, the simple fact is that without a buddy in the water, the distressed diver has little or no chance of assistance.

    The buddy system is the most basic form of scuba diving fail-safe. Buddies have helped each other in subtle and profound ways for decades. Often the smallest buddy intervention averts a string of error chains occurred and negative outcomes or tragedy. The safety record of scuba diving has improved dramatically over the past few decades, while the number of certified divers has increased. During this time, buddy system training techniques have been an integral component of this training. While there is no way to quantify the accidents that were prevented or did not happen because of one buddy looking after another, empirical outcomes support the relevancy and integrity of this training.


    Diving is a social activity, so the buddy system is more than a safety rule. Diving with someone you know and are comfortable with adds to the fun. Most divers actually enjoy companionship in and out of the water. It is fun to share exciting adventures and experiences with others. Fundamentally, the buddy system is about dive companionship, something that won't appeal to misanthropic personality types.

    Can Solo Diving be done responsibly?

    Yes, but let's be clear about what responsible solo diving is and what it is not. It requires experienced scuba divers willing to make the necessary commitment to train and equip themselves to accept the added risks involved. That is to say, a person with the required attitude and aptitude to pursue responsible solo diving. This is true in other adventure sport activities such as solo rock climbing.

    It is important to clarify what responsible solo scuba diving is. PADI views it as a form of technical diving and not for everybody. To responsibly engage in solo scuba diving, a diver must first be highly experienced, have a hundred or so buddy accompanied scuba dives, be absolutely self-reliant and apply the specialized procedures and equipment needed to engage in the activity. This includes, but is not limited to redundant air sources, specialized equipment configurations, specific dive planning, and management of solo diving problems and emergencies. When solo diving is performed within this description, we see a place for it. Responsible solo diving is not diving alone without the mental discipline, attitude or equipment. That said, no amount of redundant equipment can effectively back up a diver's brain better than another individual.

    What concerns does PADI have with regard to solo diving

    When a problem occurs on a solo dive, or when the diver is alone in the water, there is little or no chance of assistance for the distressed diver. This decreases the chances of a diver surviving the problem or having a favorable outcome. Diving alone reduces the chance of survival regardless of the problem. Since 1989, there were at least 538 fatalities where it was clear divers were either intentionally diving solo, or became separated from a buddy and were de facto alone.

    PADI is concerned by certain proponents of solo diving within the dive industry, including a major diving publication, who attempt to promote solo diving by bashing both PADI and the buddy system with headlines touting " Why the Buddy System is dangerous". This is both irresponsible and reckless. To suggest that the buddy system fosters a false sense of security and increases the likelihood of panic is outrageous and contrary to the empirical evidence. To claim that divers shouldn't use the buddy system for fear of being sued by a diving companion is ridiculous. The unfortunate reality in the litigious U.S. is that folks have sued one another for nearly anything. It is no surprise that there have been a handful of cases where one buddy has brought suit against another. Outside of the U.S., this argument doesn't hold up and smacks of the fear mongering to sell magazines. Besides, how long will it be before a solo death results in a suit against a magazine or other forum endorsing solo diving, a practice that is contrary to community practice. There is nothing to prevent such lawsuits from arising.

    PADI's position is clear; solo diving proponents should advocate responsible solo diving on its own unique merits, requisite training, and equipment needs and not through sensationalized attempts to disparage a proven safety system, that has served the majority of recreational scuba divers well.
  2. Louie

    Louie Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Vancouver (yet again but not for long)

    I think you have your work cut out...
  3. --tom--

    --tom-- Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Silicon Valley
    So, you've figured out cut and paste; good for you. We also know now, verbatim, what PADI's stand on solo diving is.

    What do you THINK? A parrot can recite back, but doesn't show any insight, or cognitive reasoning. You may arrive at the same conclusion or find some nuance that solidifies your stance, or makes a contra-opinion more interesting (more safe).

    I don't mind using quotes or references to strengthen an argument, but you might want to start with some sort of premise.
  4. ScubaSteve

    ScubaSteve Wow.....what a DB

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Acton, Ontario
    Yeah but their username says it all. Likely a 13 yr old kid that is afraid of the water :D.


    There is also a good chance they are a


    from someone that recently lost in a thread here and are now afraid to come back.
  5. Louie

    Louie Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives:
    Location: Vancouver (yet again but not for long)

    Are you PADI staff, executive member or did you just want to start a discussion on the topic?

    Just wondering.
  6. redacted

    redacted Guest

    My problem with this and so many similar articles is they use statistics like this: "Since 1989, there were at least 538 fatalities where it was clear divers were either intentionally diving solo, or became separated from a buddy and were de facto alone."

    There is a big difference between a diver planing and conducting a solo dive and a diver who accidentally became separated from his buddy. Especially if the buddy relationship is dependency rather that support. Every such separation is a failure of the buddy system, not a solo diver failure.
  7. Cave Bum

    Cave Bum Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Cave Country, FL
    I am a PADI instructor.

    I am also a solo cave diver.

    I teach within the standards of PADI when teaching PADI courses but I do cover the concept of solo diving and specify that it is a form of technical diving and requires training, gear, preparation and practice.

    The original prohibition to solo diving as alluded to in the OP (but not specified) was because the YMCA brought over it's swimming program in total to its scuba course syllabus (never swim alone, always swim with a buddy). Contrary to popular belief, there was not extensive research put into seeing if it applied with reams of paper covered front and back with statistical and probability calculations. There was just someone who was writing the course syllabus saying to themselves “this sounds like it applies…”. I'm not sure it does...

    There is no DAN data on which form of diving is safer because there isn't enough data on solo diving to make a statisical universe.

    I do not think that two newly minted open water divers are the best choice in the world to be buddies. An emergency situation is just as likely to panic the diver who is suppose to give assistance as it is to spur him or her to appropriate response.

    I feel, we as instructors, should spend more time in the open water class teaching self-reliance and teaching new divers to solve underwater problems underwater rather then depending on running to a buddy or popping to the surface!

    That’s my opinion.

    Be safe and have fun in the water! Bruce
  8. Crowley

    Crowley Master Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Planet Crowley
    The article above is not new and has been available for some time now.

    I don't think even the PADI bashers could reasonably disagree - and I'm guessing most of the major recreational agencies would take a similar stance.

    The fact that solo diving comes with extra associated risks has unfortunately been proven with several accidents over the past year - one of those involving a guy diving solo in a golf course water hazard - hardly "extreme" conditions, if a bit murky.

    I think the "buddy bashers", if you will, take the viewpoint that you may go on holiday and get paired up with a random, and perhaps not so competent, buddy. The likelihood in this situation is that you will diving with a guide and possibly several other people as well. If you're diving with an instructor and 5 other guests then you might suggest that you are actually diving with 6 buddies, not just one. If that's nothing else, it's potentially increased the availability of alternate air sources and provides a few extra sets of eyes to catch problems. I find many of my divers will alert me to issues that I cannot directly observe from my perspective, and, ya know, I can't swim backwards *all* the time!

    I think it's highly unlikely that two random divers would be paired up together by a dive shop to go out diving with only themselves; so I think the argument is a little academic, although I am broad minded enough to accept that there is a minority argument against the buddy system. One could make a similar argument about why beer is bad to drink! (tongue in cheek, for those with no sense of humour :D )

    Taking the view that solo diving is "...[for] experienced scuba divers willing to make the necessary commitment to train and equip themselves to accept the added risks involved...." is, I think perfectly legitimate and responsible. It's not for everybody. My flatmate would love it, I don't. I have thousands of dives and I have tried solo diving maybe 20 or so times and I don't like it, I really don't.

    The Buddy system was not invented by PADI, nor was it invented by scuba divers. It's a basic human trait; the concept that team work is synergistic is employed almost universally in sports. In rare circumtances, a dive buddy could potentially cause safety problems for others. Ja, your quarterback let you down, the guy in the pits didn't screw the wheel on properly, ├Żour lead climber (to use PADI's rock climbing analogy) didn't bang *that* piton in quite hard enough.

    I have no problem whatsoever with solo diving. I don't want to do it, but I don't want to go to the pub on my own either - it's just no fun!

    But - for the sake of everybody concerned, if you want to go solo diving, pleeeeeease make sure you get some experience and training before you do it. I don't think PADI's suggestion of 100 dives is unreasonable, but as with any sport, that experience and expertise may come earlier or later depending on the person.

    Safe diving, however you choose to do it,

  9. leftinflint

    leftinflint Angel Fish

  10. jridg

    jridg Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Concord, CA
    This thread certainly does not belong in the basic discussion area - also, while it is here, please remember this is a 'flame free zone'.

    Mods, please move to the appropriate forum......not sure what that is....doesn't really even belong in the solo forum.....hrm....

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