When’s the last time you used a Checklist?

Checklists are a great tool for ensuring all items for a specific task are completed; but how many divers (apart from rebreather divers) still use them?

As new divers, we were all introduced to checklists. We learnt the importance of pre-dive checks (for our BCD, weights, releases, air) and what to include when packing gear pre-dive.

Those who trained to be tech divers are fully aware of the reliance on checklists to ensure equipment is functioning correctly so that the planned dive can be completed safely and problem free.

Then, those who became diving professionals moved on to checklists for items to be included in dive briefings and emergency procedures.

Checklists are a great tool for ensuring all items for a specific task are completed; but how many divers (apart from rebreather divers) still use them?

When was the last time you saw a buddy pair go through a full pre-dive check when preparing to enter the water? When was the last time you and your buddy completed one?

Most divers start off using the checklists, but as they get more familiar and comfortable in their abilities they become complacent, and this can lead to important items, and safety procedures, being overlooked. If we are honest, at some stage we have all been guilty of this, but checklists are simple and do serve a purpose: To ensure we enjoy our dive and return safely.

Checklists play an important role at all levels of diving:

  • New divers can rely on them to avoid jumping into the water without putting on their fins or turning on cylinders.
  • More experienced divers can use them to avoid errors of familiarity (i.e. those errors that occur because you have done a task so many times that your brain turns off while doing it). I know I have forgotten to put on my weightbelt more often as an experienced diver than I ever did as a beginner (shhh don’t tell anyone).
  • Dive leaders should follow a checklist to ensure all required elements are included in their dive briefings. Dive briefings are an important safety component of every dive – particularly for divers in new locations or where new skills are to be utilised. These briefings should, at a minimum, include the following:
  • Dive site name and description – points of interest, hazards, depths, currents and facilities.
  • The role the Dive Leader will play – surface support, in water assistance, how to recognise him/her.
  • Entry/Exit – any specific procedures to be followed.
  • Dive procedures – how the dive should be conducted, direction to head, course to follow, procedures for dealing with specific local hazards or conditions, safety stops, depth/time limits.
  • Emergency procedures – method for recalling divers, what to do if recalled, diver separation, low on air, surface signalling, location of emergency equipment and who is trained to use it.
  • Signal review – signalling is mostly universal but there are regional variations to some of the signals used for things such as air remaining and for identifying specific problems.
  • Buddy groupings and tasks each team will be performing
  • Pre-dive safety check between buddy pairs.
  • The need to notify the dive supervisor if unwell post-dive

If your dive leader doesn’t cover all these items, you may be entering the water under-prepared and ill-equipped to handle the conditions of the dive or an emergency situation.

Remember, checklists are important at all levels of diving and experience and should be considered an essential safety tool.

Equalisation Troubles for New Divers: Recent Incidents

Recently, DAN AP has had a couple of cases of novice divers experiencing problems equalising leading to Ear Barotrauma.

Recently, DAN AP has had a couple of cases of novice divers experiencing problems equalising leading to Ear Barotrauma: Continue reading “Equalisation Troubles for New Divers: Recent Incidents”

Oxygen First Aid Keeps Two Divers Out of the Chamber – Recent Cases

In two recent cases, immediate oxygen first aid resolved symptoms and kept the divers out of the chamber. Continue reading “Oxygen First Aid Keeps Two Divers Out of the Chamber – Recent Cases”

Don’t worry, it’s just a case of ‘sea legs’

Recently at DAN Asia-Pacific we received two calls for help from divers who were advised by their dive instructors not to worry about symptoms they were experiencing post-diving.

Recently at DAN Asia-Pacific we received two calls for help from divers who were advised by their dive instructors not to worry about symptoms they were experiencing post-diving. Here is a summary of the two cases:

Philippines: A 52-year-old woman was on a four-day liveaboard trip. Three hours after returning to land, and 19 hours after the final dive, the diver experienced vertigo. When the dive shop was contacted they said it was most likely just a case of ‘sea legs’. As a result of this advice, she didn’t take further action. However, after another 10-hours the diver experienced various aches around her body (both knees, the top of one foot and the right shoulder blade), so she called DAN for advice. Upon speaking to the DAN DES Doctor, the diver was advised to present at the local chamber, where she received two recompression treatments.

Indonesia: This diver had dived the previous day and experienced equalisation problems. He woke up with ringing in his ears. His divemaster said it wasn’t a problem so he completed an additional two dives that day. The diver should not have continued to dive. The ringing in his ears continued so he contacted DAN in concern. He was advised to visit the nearest diving doctor the following day. Diagnosis: Ear barotrauma.

LESSON’S LEARNT

Dive guides in most dive locations do not have medical training.

Without specialised dive medical training, dive professionals should not take it upon themselves to diagnose whether guests have DCI. It can be very dangerous and continuing to dive with symptoms (or even if symptoms have cleared) can cause them to worsen, making them more difficult to treat.

Don’t delay asking for help or advice from DAN

By delaying treatment, the diver may end up with residual symptoms that may take longer to fully resolve. In some cases, there can be permanent injury. Calling the DAN/DES hotline provides immediate medically qualified advice. DAN should always be called as soon as a diver becomes aware of any possible DCI symptoms after diving. If in doubt, call the DAN DES Hotline on +61 8 8212 9242.

In the event of a suspected ear injury, stop diving.

With an ear injury it is vital that the individual stops diving immediately and seeks out appropriate medical advice as soon as possible. DAN AP deals with many cases of ear injury and, unfortunately, continued diving and delay to reporting is not uncommon. In the case of inner each injury it can lead to permanent hearing loss, tinnitus or problems with balance.

Given the unique nature of diving incidents, we encourage all dive professionals to err on the side of caution by calling a DAN Hotline for advice should ANY symptom/s present in themselves, or their diving customers, following diving. 

Any symptom that is not normal that occurs following diving should be considered possibly dive-related and as such evaluated by a diving doctor

SAFETY TIP: Enter DAN as a contact in your phone. Make sure you have your lifeline when you need it.

Visit “Emergency” at danap.org. Whilst all divers can call DAN for advice, DAN can only arrange an Emergency Evacuation and pay for associated treatment costs for current Members (within the limits of their coverage option). Not Yet a DAN AP Member? Join at danap.org.

DAN Case Study: Untrained Diver Dies Entangled in Kelp

This tragic case study illustrates just why professional training is so important before donning scuba gear and jumping in.

This tragic case study illustrates just why professional training is so important before donning scuba gear and jumping in. Continue reading “DAN Case Study: Untrained Diver Dies Entangled in Kelp”

May 2018 Roundup – a sample of recent Asia-Pacific Diving incidents

Suspected DCI, ear barotrauma… and plain old partying too hard the night before. Every month DAN Asia-Pacific receives calls from all over the region for a broad range of reasons. Here is a sample of calls received in May 2018.

Every month DAN Asia-Pacific receives calls from all over the region for a broad range of reasons. Here is a sample of calls received in May 2018: Continue reading “May 2018 Roundup – a sample of recent Asia-Pacific Diving incidents”

Stranded While Drift Diving

In this case recently reported to DAN AP, divers are stranded in open water when a drift dive doesn’t go according to plan.

In this case recently reported to DAN AP, divers are stranded in open water when a drift dive doesn’t go according to plan. Continue reading “Stranded While Drift Diving”