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Unqualified Divers in Caves--especially ones like Eagles Nest

Discussion in 'Cave Diving' started by boulderjohn, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
    The most recent fatality in Eagles Nest being discussed here was someone who did not have the proper certification to be there. At this writing, it was not clear if he was Cavern certified or Intro certified, but he was apparently not cave certified. At this writing it appears that the group started with only one certified cave diver, and he had to quit before descent, so there were no certified cave divers in the group. I want to start a thread that has nothing to do with the fatal aspect of the dive, a thread that could have existed if he had lived but we had learned about the circumstances of the dive anyway.

    This thread could be specific to the incident, and it can be generic. We have heard through this incident that at least one nearby dive shop takes non-cave divers there for trimix training regularly--what should be done about that? What other thoughts do you have about individuals or dive shops knowingly taking unqualified divers into caves?
  2. tbone1004

    tbone1004 Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Greenville, South Carolina, United States
    I can tell you that if I was the TD for the agency that he was teaching with or one of the gear mfg's that they were dealers for I would pull their certs/dealership in a heartbeat

    for the individuals, I would make sure to make it public that they were doing this kind of thing and that they are condoning unsafe cave diving... I don't want to hurt any individuals, it sucks, and no, I'm anything but perfect, but stuff like this is not a gray line, it's stupid and going to get someone killed *oh wait, it just did*

    edit: this being more specifically aimed at caves like eagles nest, PIII, etc. I firmly believe in the mentor system and progressive penetration and if someone who has done the time and are ready to take baby steps forward and have an intro cert wants to stretch their gas limits closer to thirds instead of sixths in a cave like JB, or a cavern diver wants to go to the sign in OG, that's a completely different discussion than something like this
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
    oldschoolto, mdb and cerich like this.
  3. Aotus

    Aotus Marine Scientist

    i think it should be up to the agencies to take action and revoke affiliation when it becomes clear that a shop is violating standards. Further, when an instructor violates standards and their actions directly cause an accident (as in MX recently), that instructor should be help liable legally.
  4. Jack Hammer

    Jack Hammer Solo Diver

    It's pretty simple, taking divers who are not full cave trained with experience in multiple systems and types of cave environments into Eagles Nest is a bad idea.
  5. sheeper

    sheeper Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States
    i'm a pretty experienced and advanced instructor and diver. I hold advanced certifications from multiple agencies. I'm not fully cave trained; I've done several training dives in simple, easy caves (my preference is ocean...I decided that caves bore me). There is just no way i'd even think about taking one step into Eagle's Nest even with my elite cave instructor friends.

    Training in such an environment is a clear violation of any agency standards i'm aware of. But it also violate any iota of common sense from instructors. I often change a training dive plan due to immediate safety concerns, local conditions, gear issues, or group/student issues.

    if common sense was common, everyone would have it.
  6. kensuf

    kensuf Cave Instructor

    1. If there is real proof, rather than hearsay, they should be kicked out of the organization. While I have heard a first hand account from someone who took a cavern course from them, and it was conducted at Eagles Nest, unless the former student comes forth and talks to the agency, if I report it, it's simply hearsay.

    2. I said it in the fatality thread, but anyone taking unqualified people to a cave like EN is an a-hole.

    BTW -- I am going to be calling that agency this morning.
  7. Marie13

    Marie13 Great Lakes Mermaid ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Great Lakes
    Ken, good, and if you are able, do let us know what the agency says.
    Aotus likes this.
  8. CuzzA

    CuzzA Solo Diver

    When did NSS-CDS make the statement regarding the entrance at Eagles Nest is no longer considered a cavern?

    I thought I read it was a couple years ago. It sounds to me like IANTD standards were not violated because they don't have a standards on the site. I assume for many years the entrance was considered the "cavern zone"?

    My advice is this... instead of barking up one tree, try to have a meeting of the minds with the heads of the agencies. NSS-CDS can lead the way and develop a global standard on that site.

    Because just getting IANTD to take a position on the site doesn't help if it can be done with another agency.

    I'm not a cave diver, but if there was a possibility that government could intervene and take away access to my favorite dive site, I would try to be proactive. Get a head of this. I'm sure all of you could come together and pitch in a few dollars to make this happen, change the sign at the site. Maybe add a couple more to really drive the point home.

    If it really matters to anyone, then I don't see why this can't be accomplished. Then when the government says we're considering shutting down the site (which of course I don't agree with), you can show that the cave community has already put forth steps to help prevent unqualified divers from entering the water and now has a global standard across all agencies for what classes can be conducted there.

    A sign that spells out the standards like on the NSS-CDS website will drive home the point. There will be no confusion. I would be even more forceful and over the top with my wording. And so when the media goes into hysteria over the next death there, they'll print a picture of the sign and it will be very clear that either the victim wasn't qualified to be there, an instructor violated the now concrete standard or it was simply just another scuba diving accident.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  9. CuzzA

    CuzzA Solo Diver

    Someone could easily interpret this sign as... "Well, I'm not going into the cave or cave diving. I'm going into the cavern zone." Of which only one agency (that I'm aware of), NSS-CDS, has stated there is no cavern zone.

  10. bamafan

    bamafan Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Panama City Beach, Fl.
    Most if not all of the CDS instructors teach for other agencies such as IANTD, TDI, PSAI etc. If they really cared they should be putting pressure on these agencies
    CuzzA likes this.

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