First Annual Diverís Safety Day 2006

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Posted by Walt on October 21, 2006 at 19:35:26:

The day started with the landing of The Los Angeles Sheriff Departmentís huge Rescue 5 helicopter at the Cabrillo Youth Center. Sheriff SWAT Team members trained in diving and mountain rescue crew this impressive machine. They allowed us to go through its interior and told us about their mission and rescue experiences.

Next we headed to the pool where the Long Beach Fire Department, Marine, and LAC County Lifeguard provided a demonstration of diver rescue techniques. They also fielded questions and demonstrated removal of the injured diver from the water and onto the boat deck. A good point was made to try to use a backboard if available to pull the unconscious diver from the steps onto the deck.

Next we returned to the youth center for the morning sessionís panel discussion of accident causation and prevention. Panelists were Karl Huggins, Ken Kurtis, Dr. Tom Millington, and LA County Sheriff Deputy. Ken shared with us some of his findings as part of his work as a consultant for the LA County Coroner as well as his perspective as an instructor and shop owner. Karl discussed computers, decompression tables and diver comfort levels and panic. The Sheriff focused on diver fitness and training, particularly regular swimming and swim fining pool laps. Dr. Tomís focus was on medical aspects of diving and the need for routine check-ups and contraindications of diving. Among the new information I learned was:
- After a diving accident, gather all the diverís gear, keep it in the configuration as found, do not change or try to read the computer and DO NOT turn off the air unless it is leaking in which case you count and record the number of turns it takes to turn it off. The equipment is turned over to the Sheriff as part of their investigation.
- To be prepared, practice all skills monthly (mask clearing, buddy breathing, tired diver tow, etc.) AND to become comfortable with a particular skill, practice it so you can do it perfectly for 12 repetitions (not 11 attempts and 1 success, but 12 perfect accomplishments in a row).

Various aspects of certification and diving were also covered, including perspectives on solo diving, training standards, periodic recertification, preparedness, rescue, basic skill requirements, and skills practice.

After a lunch break, the panel was reassembled and was joined by Chief Mickey Gallagher of the LA County Fire Dept. Lifeguards, Underwater Section. The focus was on recognizing and response to a diving accident, activation of the Emergency Management System (EMS), how to respond to a diving emergency, and the field neurological examination. Among the key points was the need to get and keep the diver on pure O2, the need for fellow divers to be prepared as the first response when CPR is required, response timelines, and Sheriff Department post accident investigation that involves homicide detectives. The USCG recommended that one of the better ways for a diver to get noticed from the air in calm waters is to splash water (large strokes)... signaling mirrors and reflective tape on the top of the BC or hood are also helpful.

The day concluded with a very impressive demonstration of a rescue by the Coast Guardís helicopter crew and rescue diver, the LA County Baywatch boat, Sheriffís Department Patrol boat and the LAPDís patrol boat. They simulated a diver rescue in LA Harbor where Baywatch pulled the diver from the water; the USCG sent a rescue swimmer and hoisted the diver to the helicopter.

It was a day where we should have brought a camera along... we didnít. :-( Maybe Jim or someone will post some pictures.

Weíre glad we were able to attend this event Ė it was professionally executed and extremely informative. Sometimes we tend to take diving (and safety) for granted and its good to step back and look at what can go wrong and how to prepare to handle those situations so we can return to dive another day.

If you couldn't make this event, it is tentatively planned to be repeated this Spring, then continue annually. Its definitly a day every diver should try to attend.

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