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May have saved a life Scuba diving Saturday Login/Join 
If not saved, made it a whole lot safer.

First a bit of background for those that don’t Scuba Dive. There is a “system” (DIR – Doing It Right) of diving taught by an organization called Global Underwater Explorers (GUE). It started back in the 90’s (out of the Cave diving teams) and is based on a specific style of equipment, that all team members use, rigged identically, team approach, Standard dive gases, emphasis on diving in a horizontal manner, buoyancy control, (example, when doing any skill you may not deviate in depth more than a foot or 2) and gas management so you always have enough gas to get you and an out-of-air buddy to the surface while doing proper decompression, safety stops or at the least slow safe ascent, just to name a few. And part of the “standard” kit is we dive our primary, high performance, regulator (the one we breath from) attached to a 7’ hose, our back up regulator (also high performance) is attached to a very short hose that is kept around our neck on a bungie cord. In any gas emergency we will donate our primary regulator that is on the 7’ hose to the needy diver and breath from the one around our neck. The 7’ hose gives you so many more options and control of the needy diver. Plus, you are donating a regulator that you know works and works well, while you are breathing from a regulator just as good. On the standard diver their best regulator is what they breath and they donate a regulator second stage built just for being a backup and they breath like crap for the most part. Both on standard 36 to 40 inch hoses. Think of it this way, you are in a shootout your AR fails and your buddy, rather than hand you a back up AR, hands you a Taurus 22 Poly! Thanks buddy. Post about GUE/DIR on any SCUBA Forum and be ready for the flame war, it is quite “political”, us against them sort of.

Anyway, to the story. I was diving off a small charter boat, only 4 of us on the boat, husband and wife team, the dive boat capt’s wife and me. I was the only diver rigged “GUE/DIR” style. (I will dive with any one on a recreational dive, not so with cave or deep diving). We dropped on a wreck in about 110’ of water, but the main part of the wreck was in 95’ up to 75’. I did not know at the time but this was the deepest the wife of the Husband and wife team had even been. Also on the wreck were a bunch of other divers from another boat. There was a large float ball anchored into the wreck which would act as our decent/ascent line. We all splash and I pretty much forget about the Husband and Wife team. Dive was nice but uneventful, very mild current, good visibility, lots of fish. At about 25 min I figured the rest of the group should be getting close to being done so I ascended to the top of the wreck and did a quick look around. Lo and behold, I see the husband and wife team, husband holding the wife, repeatedly check her gauges, swimming her hard toward the float line (into the current) and my first thought is that they were a bit freak getting close to mandatory decompression obligation. Then I see hubby motion to the wife to swim harder. That is when I became concerned, swimming faster does not solve any problems and it reflects a glimmer of “panic” or unease. I therefore, close on them and swim behind them, at this point the capt’s wife is next to them. They all get to the line and I stay back a bit, capt wife seems to have taken charge and “too many cooks…”so I stay out of it, but I then see the capt wife goes for her back up regulator at her side, on a standard length hose 40” inches tops, and a not so great second stage. Bingo, wife is out of air. As they are making the switch to capt wife regulator and I am focused on the wife, who does not look like she is having “fun”, her eyes are looking a bit panicky and the new regulator she is breathing is not good, plus, capt’s wife is having trouble getting her hose detached from a clip and is not focusing on the out of air diver. Its looks like it is turning into a shit show. I remove my primary, stick my backup in my mouth, and swim into the fray, I signal the capt’s wife what I am going to do (since she is the one that took charge first), she immediately sees I have a 7’ hose, lets me in close (as close as that shitty 40 inch hose will let her) and I signal the wife to switch again to my main regulator, credit to her, she does. We transfer her to my regulator; she takes one full breath and I can see the relief that comes over her face. She went from very scared eyes to a much more relaxed look, it was amazing to watch, she went from a very bad place to a good place in one breath. I know I have plenty of gas, I get her calmed down, she latches on to me and we make all of our safety stops. I make sure I always have control over her just in case. We get to the surface, she inflates her buoyancy vest and starts to remove my regulator, I tell her not to, we aint there yet. It’s a bit rough and a small wave and a mouth full of salt water can make a “win” a “loss” really quick. I grab her vest, and I swim her to the boat. At the ladder of the boat I ask her if she has any air left (I know she has some since her vest inflated) she nods her head yes, I tell her to switch back to her regular for boarding, she does and all is well. She was extremely thankful to me when I got on the boat. Not being a dick, but I pointed out to the others and her that they all fixated on going back up the line rather than just shooting a marker to the surface (which we all had) and surfacing right from the point when they realized they were low on air. They wasted valuable time and air swimming into the current just to surface on the line.

What made this even better was, back about 1995 a good friend of mine died on a scuba dive (I was not there) in almost the exact same scenario, he got low on gas, he and his buddy swam back to the line into the current, he switched to the buddy’s back up, something was amiss, he panicked, drowned and sunk to the bottom while the buddy shot to the surface. Not saying this would have ended this way, but, I made it a whole lot easier on everyone, especially the wife. I will say, I give both the capt’s wife and the husband credit, once I got in, they left me alone and just hung close, which is sometimes harder than helping. Cool thing to me was that I have practiced that skill so many times, in so much worse conditions, (like in caves, with no lights and a screaming flow) that my muscle memory was spot on. It seemed totally normal to me.

It could have been a real bad day and I think I made it much better. Always good feeling to be able to help.
Posts: 2044 | Registered: September 19, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
Picture of MikeinNC
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Good on you.

When I dove my rig was set up the same way, long primary, and short secondary for me when it hit the fan. My instructor had us all set our gear that way. Give the other diver your primary and you breath off your secondary.

I learned to scuba dive in Crystal River Fla. the instructors name was Bill Ostrich (pronounced OH strike). That was back in 1989. He was a great teacher

"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

Posts: 7480 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Savor the limelight
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No doubt that your calmness and clear thinking changed at least the situation and possibly the final outcome for the better. Well done.
Posts: 6242 | Location: SWFL | Registered: October 10, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I did some diving in the late 1980's, and this concept didn't exist back then. At least, we didn't know about it.

How do you carry around that 7' line so that it doesn't catch on something? Not that I'm likely to dive any more, but it would be good to know.

Also, were you on mixed gas at 110'? I don't remember the rules on that, but 110' seems shallow, unless you use it to extend bottom time.

I'm not the least surprised your training kicked in. I've read some of your other posts on diving, and I expected no less! Cool

Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.
-- H L Mencken

I always prefer reality when I can figure out what it is.
-- JALLEN 10/18/18
Posts: 8794 | Location: Illinois farm country | Registered: November 15, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of DrDan
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I know nothing of diving, and only partially understood your explanation, so perhaps a kudos from me is not so valuable, but it sounds like you did great. Certainly, it is clear you recognized a bad situation, recognized those involved were not as prepared as you, and you stepped in and made a difference - that's huge. Well done!

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Posts: 4739 | Location: Florida | Registered: August 16, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Just for the
hell of it
Picture of comet24
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Good job.

I have been diving a BP/W with the same reg. setup for so long I couldn't tell you the last time I dove with a standard BC.

The long hose is a game changer when the shit really hits the fan. I had to donate mine on for real, done it many times training as I'm sure you have.

Was helping teach an Advanced Class a few years ago. We were doing the deep dive in a quarry, early April, VA. Temp at the bottom was 38 degree. One of the students regs started free-flowing. Gave her my primary as I switched like you to my necklaced one. To her credit for diving in cold deep darkish water, she remanded calm as I took her back slowly and also did our safety stop.

Very few divers outside of those in the "tec" community practice any of those skill past their training dive. I hit the quarry more than once a year to practice donating a reg, shooting a line/bag from the depth and running lines.


Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain. Jack Kerouac
Posts: 15797 | Registered: March 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
186,000 miles per second.
It's the law.

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Nice job! Once when we were diving Bloody Bay Wall on Little Cayman, my friend's wife got narced at 120 feet down--the bottom of our planned dive. She "saw something cool" far below her and started swimming down fast to "go see it". My friend was not watching her closely but I was watching both of them as they were recently certified. I took off down and managed to catch up and grabbed the back of her fin and pulled her around. Showed her the depth gauge and slowly swam her up. Then back to the surface slowly with stops. She may never have made it back. I probably grabbed her down 150 and she was heading lower fast. The water is crystal clear there and very easy to get deep fast.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: FishOn,
Posts: 2597 | Registered: August 19, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
SF Jake
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my respects to you diver guys....not something I’ve ever done or wanted to. We have rescue divers at work and dive often on calls...I, as shift Captain am always on edge until my guys are back on the surface.....I have seen what can go wrong and the end result. Kudos to you guys that have recognized a potential problem and taken appropriate steps to correct...nicely done!

Those who trade liberty for security have neither
Posts: 2770 | Location: southern connecticut | Registered: March 20, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well done and thanks for sharing.
Posts: 2952 | Location: Alexandria, VA | Registered: March 07, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of mdblanton
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Nice job - calm thinking goes a long way. Thanks for the post and background info.

Posts: 630 | Location: Petal, MS | Registered: January 21, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The success of a solution usually depends upon your point of view
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Well done being observant and recognizing the snowball before it picked up too much speed.

The group I dove with was big on regularly practicing skills, nothing prepares you for having to take your BC off and putting it back on under water then taking your BC off under water and then putting it back on.

“Banning guns is like banning forks in an attempt to stop making people fat.” - Vince Vaughn

Posts: 3317 | Location: Jacksonville, FL | Registered: September 10, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good job thinking calm and being present in the moment. Training, equipment, and experience carry the day.

I'm sorry for you about your buddy, that would be tough.

"Ultima Ratio Regum"
Life Member NRA Washington Arms Collectors
The designer of the gun had clearly not been instructed to beat about the bush. 'Make it evil,' he'd been told. 'Make it totally clear that this gun has a right end and a wrong end. Make it totally clear to anyone standing at the wrong end that things are going badly for them.'
Posts: 979 | Location: T-town in the 253 | Registered: January 16, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Striker in waiting
Picture of BurtonRW
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Good Lord.

We’re they qualified to go to 110’? Any experience that deep at all previously? I’m assuming regular air and basic open water cert.

But hey, you’ve got me thinking about a long hose for my primary. (I’m keeping my pony bottle, though.)



I predict that there will be many suggestions and statements about the law made here, and some of them will be spectacularly wrong. - jhe888

Posts: 15432 | Location: Maryland, AA Co. | Registered: March 16, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I have not yet begun
to procrastinate
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Was diving in Mexico when we went down for a deep dive.
My habit was to tell everyone I dive with that in case of emergency, my spare reg is attached to the middle of my chest. (soft rubber holdy thing that is easy to take reg out of)

At 140', one of the other divers rips my spare reg off my chest and takes a deep breath. Eek
First I look at my remaining air (again) and then thought "Well, I guess this means we're leaving."
The putz had run his tank dry, not monitoring his gauges.
Between the remaining air in tanks and BCs (and small spare bottle on BC if needed) we had plenty to make our needed stops.

After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.
Posts: 3559 | Location: North of AZ hell | Registered: October 26, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
hello darkness
my old friend
Picture of gw3971
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Good job! You did well. They were near panic and you took over. You turned a could have died story into lesson learned. Did you discuss their thought process with them and how nitrogen narcosis can effect them?
Posts: 6740 | Location: West Jordan, Utah | Registered: June 19, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of Ozarkwoods
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Wow, awesome job I have never dived. Your description painted the event well.

Posts: 3961 | Location: Home is where the tires are touching, currently Black Hills SD plans to winter in the Ozarks | Registered: October 20, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of TigerDore
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Great work, SFL. No doubt you prevented a very serious situation from getting worse and you certainly may have saved a life.

Posts: 7795 | Registered: September 26, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Not all who wander
are lost.
Picture of JohnV
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That was a fascinating read. Great job man!

Posted from my iPhone.
Posts: 4177 | Location: Tennessee | Registered: February 22, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
His Royal Hiney
Picture of Rey HRH
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That was great on your part. I think they would listen to your advice afterwards.

I have to ask, don't you have a problem keeping quiet at the beginning of a trip when you notice those deficiencies in others? I know I would when it comes to safety issues like that even at the expense of coming across as a blowhard know it all. What you explained makes perfect sense to me.

"It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly. Our answer must consist not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual." Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, 1946.
Posts: 15903 | Location: Bay Area, CA | Registered: March 24, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Hella good job buddy! Sounds like your calm demeanor and training saved the day. Major props professionally handling a situation that could have gone sideways in a hurry!

be safe.
Posts: 259 | Location: DFW, Texas | Registered: June 01, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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