Computers are safe, but some divers are not!

Scuba Diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by Wayne on October 01, 2002 at 12:30:58:

In Reply to: Are computers Really Safe? posted by Captain Tim on October 01, 2002 at 10:34:50:

I think computers are nice to have. I am a recent convert in the last couple of years. They allow me to make more dives per day by keeping me posted on where I am after multilevel dives.

But if I dive to the limits of my computer, or to the limits of a table on a square dive, I am at the limits! Once I get closer to saturated, it is easier for the little things to push me over the edge of DCS. I think that is why there are seemingly more DCS hits. We are doing more dives per day and doing it by "pushing the tables". If we do the depth averaging methods promoted by some experienced divers, it is the same (with the caveat that the folks doing this have a better understanding of the rules and will do deep stops and slow ascents).

The real problem, in my opinion is that most divers do not really understand the ramifications of their dive profiles and they think that the computer will make everything OK. Then they do not even take the time to read the instructions or pay attention to the "rules" like ascent rates.

The good old days had fewer dives per day and less saturated divers. The modern days have more dives per day and more saturated divers. With the information available on such things as decreased DCS risk with slower ascent rates and deep stops, DCS should be becoming much more rare.

Somehow the solution needs to come from education rather than reliance on tools -- either table or computer. Open Water classes do not spend much time on DCS issues. Just the basics are covered. Divers really need to take the initiative and learn more. Some do not want to take additional formal training as they feel they have already spent their money and are "certified". I suppose that clubs and other forums for public lectures might be able to get the word out and make safer divers out of us all. Magazines can help, but how many hardcore divers actually read magazines -- which are really advertisements geared for warm water resorts? The only magazine I know of that does much on DCS is Dan's Alert Diver. And even that is usually a page or so in Dr. Bennet's editorial comments.

I do not know a viable solution. I would suggest that if dive shops offered a free lecture series on important topics to "experienced" divers, it would be beneficial. And remember that all the newbies really think themselves to be "experienced". Last month I was involved in a setting up a semi-private class for two divers. They went at their own pace (fast), and were certified on a Sunday morning in Avalon. That afternoon they were poking around the Sujac -- way too deep for their experience! Fortunately, nothing went wrong, but they did not have the experience to handle any out 'of the ordinary' situations. They did not have a way to judge their air use and did not really "plan" the dive.

The good news is that ours is a pretty safe sport. With a bit of extra care, it can be a very safe sport.


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