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Unqualified Divers in Caves--especially ones like Eagles Nest

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

  1. TotDoc

    TotDoc PADI Pro

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Tampa, FL
    288
    97
    28
    When it comes to sites like Eagles Nest, I think it would be great if all the major training organizations could agree to make a statement like the NSS-CDS: Statement from the NSS-CDS Training Committee on Eagles' Nest - NSS CDS

    They came out and said straight up - there is no cavern area at Eagles Nest, and people shouldn't be doing any courses there unless the student is fully cave trained. There is no gray area there. And if the other training organizations had the same type of statement, then taking OW and cavern students there is a clear standards violation, and now there is the ability to enforce some penalties for people paving the way for the normalization of deviance that gets people thinking that Eagles Nest is somehow "safe" in the entrance room.

    Unfortunately, there are shops that use EN as a training area, even for open water divers. If their training organization doesn't specifically forbid this, then it may be frowned upon, but it's not a clear standards violation, and nobody is going to do anything.

    I think the first step would be to approach and petition all the major training organizations to agree with a statement like the NSS-CDS published. The next step would be to post a sign that states the statement, and advises students to report to their training organization if an instructor takes them there. (Someone posted an example sign earlier in this thread - I think that would be awesome)

    Now you have a clear standards violation to shops taking students there that aren't ready - at least at the most basic of certification. It also makes it easier for students to know that their instructors are violating standards, and makes it much easier for these incidents to be reported.

    Does this keep everyone from going there? No...but I do think that having a site like EN being used for training of non cave divers does make it SEEM like a safe place - particularly to students who have been there, who will likely feel safe going back and diving there on their own. As it turns out, the most recent incident at EN is a great example of this. The guy had done training there, so why would he think it wasn't safe to go back and dive it once he had more experience than he did in class?

    I think limiting divers exposure to the area by limiting the number of people learning to dive there is a great 1st step in decreasing incidents at this site.

    The fact that EN lies in an area that has easy and cheap access to the public is the problem, because the diving public sees that area as a resource for training. There are other deep and complex cave systems in Florida, but access isn't as easy, so we don't see similar types of incidents there.

    Beyond limiting access to training, I think that further limiting access to the site could be done rather cheaply. I think a gate across the access road (no lock - just a gate that has to be physically opened to pass) with a sign on it saying that non certified cave divers found beyond that point with dive gear are trespassing, and are subject to fines and arrest. I don't know if law allows it, but confiscation of dive gear used in commission of the trespass would also be a nice touch and good deterrent. It's certainly doable for people who are violating limits for fishing and such...And just ask the ranger to periodically drive past the area. If they catch a vehicle there and there's no cert card on the dash, and it's clear someone is diving - boot the vehicle. Done and done. It's not like anyone knows how often or when the ranger comes by, so I imagine most folks would be a little nervous about a sneak dive like that.

    Obviously there are ways around the stuff mentioned above, and I firmly believe that once you make something idiot proof, the world finds a way to provide a "better" idiot. That said, I think these measures would go a long way towards a "good faith" effort to prevent the deaths of uncertified and undercertified individuals at places like EN.
     
    randpchi likes this.
  2. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    1,853
    624
    113
    You make some good points. Even after each accident there are some good points that have been made,but are we suffering from paralysis by analysis. How do we do something? What is the next step to make these things happen? Would people agree that something needs to be done, because the status quo has not prevented an accident.

    Who here will contact the NSS-CDS for an update?
    Who will contact TDI,IANTD,PADI, NAUI etc, and ask about having this site removed from training standards?
    Who will make the new signage that was mentioned and got approval for posting.

    After 181 replies and 7000+ views, I am sure there is a means to act.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017
  3. bamafan

    bamafan Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Panama City Beach, Fl.
    984
    465
    63
    I have said it before and will say it again. Most if not all CDS instructors teach for these other agencies. They have more power than some joe blow cave diver as their money goes to support these agencies. They are also the professionals who are supposed to be promoting cave safety. What have they done about the agency they teach for. I have to give a big shout out to Patrick Widhamann at Protec in Playa del Carmen. As a sign of protest of the lack of inaction by IANTD in the girls death in Grand Cenote he told IANTD to take a hike. He was very involved with them and actually printed all the cards for IANTD Mexico in his office. This is being a professional and is a good example that others should follow. But sadly I don't see any instructors in Florida trying to make a difference. All I see are excuses. I personally will tell everyone I know that they should go do their training with Patrick at Protec and I encourage others who want to see the instructors do the right thing for once to do this as well. We should support the instructors who actually have morals and don't put the $$ first like we are seeing by most in the Florida cave diving community.
     
  4. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    1,853
    624
    113
    Why wait for instructors, or why hand that job off to them. Did you know in the later 90's we almost lost JB because a group wanted to turn it over to their exclusive use. A small group of individuals took upon themselves to make sure it didn't happen. We came close to losing Little River,but a group of people undertook this task. When Madison was leased after the Bruics sold it, a group of people secured access. The main point, we can be fatalistic and say the instructors in Florida should come to the rescue, or some well motivated people, can show some initiative. I have personally been involved in either as a group or individually getting site access for the general cave diving community at 5 sites. Yeah it takes time, and can be challenging, but do you want to bank your future access on a group of people that may or may not have an interest?
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2017
  5. bamafan

    bamafan Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Panama City Beach, Fl.
    984
    465
    63
    Kelly, you are talking about dealing with a government. They somewhat care what people off the street think. The cave agencies don't give a crap unless it hits them in the pocketbook. The instructors are their source of revenue and should be the ones to lead the charge just like Patrick at Protec is doing.

    About a year and a half ago there was an instructor for TDI who was teaching a cavern student an/dp at Eagle's Nest. I spoke to the owner of the shop who is a safety director for the CDS and he argued that this was okay because the viz was good that day and you could see daylight from the top of the mound. This is ridiculous and I refuse to support the CDS in anyway as long as their safety director is involved. If the instructors refuse to do anything what is some stroke like me living in DC who is now relegated to internet / vacation cave diving going to do? I definitely won't be supporting any shop that is part of the problem instead a part of the solution.
     
  6. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    1,853
    624
    113
    Either way...if people have the attitude that I can't do anything to address the problem, then you are right nothing can and will be done. So lets say we lose Eagles Nest, yes it is the CDS and instructors fault, or is it from inaction on our part? If we expend page upon page of keyboard time everytime there is an issue, yet nobody has the initiative to address the problems, just make suggestions, then we shouldn't get upset when the site is gone. If I become ill, do I wait for the physicians to contact me, or do I take the initiative to help myself.
     
  7. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    55,890
    23,263
    113
    @Capt Jim Wyatt has now been contacted. He is the training chair for the NSS-CDS.
     
  8. Dan

    Dan Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lake Jackson, Texas
    5,537
    3,084
    113
    How about changing the color of the warning sign, posted by James (CuzzA) earlier in page 1, post #9, below, to red background with white letter & hang another sign below it with the list of the names of the victims with the dates of the deaths. Green background seems to not getting noticed. Green often means good, environmentally friendly or safe.

    IMG_5078.JPG
     
  9. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
    55,890
    23,263
    113
    Or modify the the "Drive Safe" memorials here in Florida to read "Dive Safe".

    [​IMG]
     
    C Dub likes this.
  10. karstdvr

    karstdvr Solo Diver

    # of Dives:
    Location: South GA
    1,853
    624
    113
    Jim has strong concern for these things, and will make a good effort. But he is one person.
     

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