Lesson: Reg in mouth

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Posted by Ken Kurtis on December 02, 2003 at 18:58:28:

In Reply to: very sad news: local diver drowns posted by Chris on December 01, 2003 at 11:19:33:

Ceratinly a tragic story but it's also one that can be learned from so the possible mistakes aren't repeated.

My biggest question when I first read of this was . . . Why wasn't the reg in his mouth? Even with the inflator problem, it seems to me that reg-in-mouth mitigates the other issues. So you sink in a few feet of water? No problem if you can breathe.

The fins are also a question but I assume they were doing a finless surf entry (which I'm personally not too crazy about). But still, one would think they couldn't have been in water that was over their heads, since it'd be tough to wade out once you can't touch bottom. How does someone drown in water where they should be able to stand or at least "jump" off the bottom to get a breath of air?

I think the whole thing also points up to the notion that if you're having a problem of ANY sort - gear, attitude, emotions, whatever - the surf zone is NOT the place to be fixing it. Abort the entry (not necessarily the whole dive) and get yourself back on the beach. Fix it and go back in if you so desire. "
We'll fix it out there" is NOT always a good choice (and I don't mean that as an indictment of this buddy team, but merely a general statement).

And I think it goes without saying that weightbelt dumping could have made a difference here. (Although I'll still go back to my original point that putting the reg in your mouth means you can breath whether you're on the surface or settle to the bottom. It eliminates the need to fight for air, which may induce panic.)

But probably a lot of this, despite this guy's number of dives, is lack of training, or more specifically an inability to be ready-to-respond to an emergency.

One thing I'll give the DIR folks is stressing the necessity of drilling in procedure over and over again. Every time you enter the water, you should run possible failure scenarios through your mind and at least mentally be ready to deal with them. A piece of advice I give people is that frequently the answer should be "Abort the dive." Fix the problem, then start again if you're so inclined.

Sad as the incident is, it is hopefully something that can be learned from.

Ken Kurtis
NAUI Instr. #5936
Co-owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.
Beverly Hills, CA

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