When We Fail Students

Incidents, and especially deaths are not something to take lightly, examining the cause of them needs to go futher than just the surface. Lets have a look at the following article/acident report.

"Two Divers Attempt To Set Personal Depth Record When Nitrogen Narcosis Strikes"


"Greg and Nathan had one goal for the dive: to set a personal depth record. There wasn’t much to see at the depth they were diving, and it was cold, but that didn’t matter. They wanted to see 230 feet (70m) on their dive-computer readouts."

Well Greg and Nathan set out to achieve something fairly realistic, their motivations might be a bit off, but it's 2017, 70m is a very achievable depth (maybe too achievable) for many in a realativly short amount of time.

"Greg was 18 years old. He had been certified for only one year, but he had been active during that year. He had already logged more than 75 dives and had completed his rescue-diver certification. He did not hold any technical diver ratings. He was in good health"

So Greg had enjoyed some level of initial training, 2nd level training, and rescue training, and at no point in time, was it made clear enough that going to 70m would require planning, the use of Helium, and a sizable amount of decompression stops. No surprise, these subjects aren't really talked about during inital courses, and many open water instructors don't do dives like that themselves, and thus are ill equiped to educate students about this, but should they be? Yes at least from a basic knowledge point of view, totally.

A rencent question I heard "How come the RAID open water course talks about SAC rates, Helium use, Rebreathers, Decompression?" The answer is simple, to educate, if Greg had known more about these things, he might not have attempted such a ill prepared mission.

"Although neither diver had any technical-diving training, a fellow diver set them up with twin air tanks. They were planning to follow their dive computers for the decompression stops they knew they would have to make on the way back from 230 feet. Both young men had recently completed dives to 200 feet, so they saw this dive as the next step in their personal evolution. They were making the dive breathing air."

Thanks BOB for lending me your twinset, this type of enabeling behaviour really doesn't help young and enthousiastic divers, a twinset is a whole lot more than just a bigger amount of gas, it's a ticket to a deeper world, and a temptation to push boundaries, and as such shouldn't just be handed to people, unless they have enjoyed training that warrants the use of a twinset. The 2 guys had done deep air dives before, and following the classic "ow I didn't die so therefore i'm safe" mindset they pushed on.

I know when you're 18 you're invincible, and sure, these kids were stupid, and I hear you thinking "yeah but we live in enough of a nanny state, we can't put fences around everything", and you'd be right in thinking that......

BUT.....If you put fences around the little things, the little problems, then people never learn the lessons intended to stop them from doing bigger more dangerous stupid things.

So next time you teach an open water student, don't make it so bloody easy, make them plan a dive, plan their gas consumption, take their computers away and give them a timer and a set of tables. Just make them think a little, you are afterall sending them home, telling them they are now certified divers, capable of planning and diving without any supervision.