THE SERIOUS SIDE OF "FUN DIVING"
I was already in the water waiting for my girlfriends to join me for our first dive while on our “Miss Scuba” vacation in Malta when I spotted an undoubtedly distressed diver on the surface a short distance away. He appeared out of nowhere, well not really out of from nowhere. I knew that about a 100ft below him lay wreck “Rozi”. He most likely lost control of his buoyancy during his ascend and shot to the surface.
As a scuba instructor my job is to bring people back alive from their dive trips. Even though I was on my holiday, I felt I had to help the distressed diver.
I handed my camera to the nearest woman. As I swam towards the panicked diver I retrieved my pocket mask from my BC’s pocket. I prepared it for use, just in case he lost consciousness. When I was at earshot from him I asked if he was OK. He did not seem quite all right with the bloody foam coming out of his mouth, but I tried to be positive. He weakly said that he came up too quickly and felt dizzy.
By then, several other divers arrived to lend a helping hand. One took his gear off as I pulled the distressed diver towards shore, while another asked him questions: What is your name? Who are you diving with? Who shall we contact? What was your dive profile? Where is your buddy?
Efficient local dive instructors already had the portable DAN Oxygen bottle hooked up by the time we reached shore. When they took over, I returned to my girlfriends and we descended to start our underwater exploration in the realms of the Mediterranean Sea.
Either the world is full of bad divers, or it is my luck (or theirs), that I happen to come across those in need for help every time I travel somewhere.
During my last trip to La Paz, Mexico I had to open a rusty O2 bottle on a remote dive site with a crescent wrench because the valve was missing the plastic opener piece. I proceeded to administer O2 to a crying, skinny, French woman who Despite the rash on her legs, the numbness in her arms, and the abdominal pain; tried to convince me, and the boat crew, she did not have DCS and did not need to go to a hospital because she had a road trip planned for the next day.
The list of dive vacations that ended up being rescues is endless.
I came to the evident conclusion I needed to get all my scuba friends ready to deal with such situations and hosted a “Be a Better Buddy” day in conjunction with a DAN Instructor training for my fellow divemaster and instructor girlfriends.
I offered free CPR training for all who signed-up to take my DAN Dive Emergency Management Provider (DEMP) training. I also promised to bring popcorn for the movie portion to make the serious topic more light-hearted. The class was full in no time.
We started the day watching the DAN educational DVD. The great thing about the DEMP course is that while it encompasses four courses in one, it does it without repeating information.
A current CPR training is a prerequisite for the DEMP class. We worked on “Annie” and on each-other to refresh our Primary and Secondary Care skills. Many took their last CPR training when the ratio was 15:1 or even when it was still 6:1.
I explained the Red Cross now recommends 30:2 for adults and kids alike to simplify things and to keep the blood moving.
At first, some girls were reluctant to put their hands on a real person, especially on those with larger bra size. To get over the hesitance I demonstrated it first then encouraged everyone to practice on each-other. It is really important to get prepared to work on real people.
Once the girls loosened up, bodies were rolling on the floor, laughs filled the classroom and we all learned new techniques while trying different ways of helping all size victims.
The DAN Dive Emergency Provider training incorporates the Oxygen Provider, Advanced Oxygen Provider, AED and Hazardous Marine Life Injuries trainings into one comprehensive course.
Divers often ask me why they should participate in the DEMP training if they are already Rescue divers or Divemasters. It is different than the Primary Care or a Rescue Diver course. The DEMP is the logical next step. It builds on people who already know how to give CPR, find a missing diver, and egress with an unconscious person.
The DEMP teaches students how to deal with the diver in need aboard the boat or at shore. We practiced administering O2 to conscious and unconscious, breathing and non-breathing victims. After mastering the use of the standard DAN Oxygen kit, we broke out the bag valve and the AED unit to add to the fun.
Going through necessary basic skills, it was time for the scenarios.
The room really came alive. Participants had shark bites and jellyfish stings put on their arms and legs with sharpies. The acting of the assigned roles was overly funny yet true-to-life.
Everybody dealt with the given situations to the best of their abilities. “Do what you can” was the motto of the day. I wanted everyone to go home confident, and not being afraid to help in fear of making things worse.
I am hoping our next “Miss Scuba” vacation will be uneventful, I mean without the need of rescuing anybody. Even if my wish does not come true I know that, the next time, I will be accompanied by capable dive girls and will not be the only one lending a helping hand to those in need.