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What constitutes an emergency?

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by tbone1004, Nov 27, 2018.

  1. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
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    The key word in that sentence, one defined differently by different people, is "immediate."

    Go back to my example of going OOA. If you go OOA during a typical OW recreational dive, I don't see any immediate threat of serious injury or death. If you have a pony bottle or a nearby buddy, you should have an alternate air source within a few seconds. If not, you should be a brief CESA away from the air on the surface. Thus, by that definition of "immediate," going OOA on a dive is not an emergency.
     
    Johnoly likes this.
  2. dmaziuk

    dmaziuk Orca

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    I'd say "an abnormal operation that requires immediate action". You need both, and it does not have to be life-threatening, just not normal. Being OOG is abnormal and requires immediate action. Breathing out of buddy's octopus is abnormal but does not require any more immediate action (unless the buddy is also OOG, of course). A freeflowing reg probably doesn't qualify for "abnormal", but most would take immediate action because it's annoying and a waste of gas.
     
  3. seeker242

    seeker242 DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
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    I would say it could be an emergency, depending on the person. If OOA causes the person to panic and bolt, while holding their breath.:shocked:
     
  4. boulderjohn

    boulderjohn Technical Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Boulder, CO
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    If you read my earlier post, you will see that the premise in the workshop I was citing was that an incident (like being OOA) becomes an emergency when the response to it is inappropriate.
     
    seeker242 likes this.
  5. sea_otter

    sea_otter DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: San Jose, CA
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    In diving, we are trained to think "this is not an emergency" as an approach to staying calm. A silt out is an abnormal operation that requires immediate action, but that immediate action should be as simple as extending a hand to establish touch contact with the line. A diver trained in and following proper procedures for the environment would not call it an emergency.

    Simply saying the words "this is an emergency" triggers a stress response. That yields an increased heart rate, increased focus, increased adrenaline, and increased breathing rate. Though too much can always backfire, this can be helpful response on land. It never makes things better underwater.

    Is a gas loss or OOA an emergency? Well, I'm going to signal "emergency" if I need a buddy's reg, but in my mind, no. Because if I call it an emergency, I'm far more likely to screw it up. It's a problem that requires immediate action, yes, but it's one for which we have a contingency plan and means to reach the surface safely.

    If that plan doesn't exist, or as John suggests, someone doesn't follow it, then it potentially becomes an emergency.
     
  6. tcpip95

    tcpip95 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
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    Years ago when I first began my dive training, my instructor told me "Stay calm. The only emergency is one in which you're out of air. Everything else is an inconvenience". I thought that was a great message for teaching a student to remain calm and work the problem.
     
  7. The Chairman

    The Chairman Chairman of the Board

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Cave Country!
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    Training is great and I wholly advocate for it. However, with greater depth comes greater stupidity and the inability to problem solve. This is why many an "overly" trained divers devolve into panic and die when they should have survived. Training needs to be coupled with commensurate experience in order to transfer the knowledge from the merely esoteric to the practical and then even into an almost automatic response. Zero to hero can introduce a diver to all sorts of skills that he has spent precious little time to perfect, much less internalize. Doing a skill correctly is great. Knowing when to use that skill is just as important. Remembering it when it's truly needed and you're stressed to the max is what garnering experience is all about.

    Know your limits, including experience and honor them. Avoid the panic troll by diving conservatively.
     
    tbone1004 likes this.
  8. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
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    Which begs the question, If an emergency happens underwater and no one says emergency, did it really happen?


    Bob
     
  9. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid idling in neutral buoyancy

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
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    I refuse to contemplate the word "emergency" during a dive for the reasons stated in this thread. If I actually had an emergency, you people are welcome to use it later in your accident analysis discussion.
     
  10. NAUI Wowie

    NAUI Wowie Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Silicon Valley northern CA
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    when my underwater ipod stops working
     

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