Thursday, 09 December 2021 12:34

When Divers Can't Dive

We have hundreds of enquiries from people every year looking to dive, try diving or sign up for a course. It could be an enquiry for anything from a diver just looking to do 1 days diving to a large group of technical divers looking to dive for a week.

So why do a high number of divers enquiries request dives that they are not able to do, both from qualified and unqualified divers ? And why do Dive Companies often let them do dives beyond their personal experience, qualification level and personal abilities ?

For example we have many people looking to try a beginners first experience dive on somewhere like the Zenobia no less and of course we have to explain why this is not possible and what options they have as a non qualified diver. But what is most suprising these days is the number of qualified divers who have little or no experience or who have not dived for years that enquire believing that they should be allowed to dive to whatever depth and to just about any dive site. They don't seem to understand that although they are qualified, the fact that they are inexperienced or have not dived for a while that they should only dive to their current personal ability and comfort levels. Especially for the first dive back in the water. It's only when that they do this dive does the reason for this prudence become apparent and fully accepted.

When you first qualify, and as part of the course, you are told that you must stay within your maximum qualification depths, personal comfort levels, abilities and experience levels. As a dive professional this is, or should be, drummed into you as part of your role as a dive ambassador and especially when having the responsilbility for the divers you guide.

The main problems seem to be a lack of understanding on the part of the individual, attempts to go beyond personal limits due to trying to get away with it and worst of all the Dive Companies or individual professionals letting these divers go beyond these limits !

So why do Dive Companies and so called professionals break the rules, standards and lack prudency ? Lack of professionalism is one thing and just taking the money is another, but what happens if something goes wrong ? Dive companies and individual Instructors may well get away with it for years but what if something goes wrong - what happens then ? Who is liable ?

Here is an example scenario - a diver is on holiday and is an Open Water diver with 10 dives and has not dived for a year. That diver is then taken straight into a dive deeper than their maximum depth for their certification and experience levels. It could be 20-25 metres or 40 metres (as many are !) it doesn't really matter which as all are greater than say the 18 metres maximum depth that is generally accepted. The diver then comes up and for some reason has DCS and ends up in the Recompression Chamber. After full recovery hopefully then there the cost for the Chamber etc of lets say €5-10,000 or even more. The diver goes to their insurance to pay it who will probably not pay out due to the diver breaking their maximum depth. The diver is then left with this hefty bill and 99 out of 100 will then sue the Dive Company or individual Instructor for taking them beyond their personal limits. 

So why take the risk particularly of harming a diver due to a lack of professionalism, arrogance or greed and then getting taken to court and harming your reputation forever ? When it goes wrong it really goes wrong. If you follow all the rules, show a duty of care and are prudent then you guarantee divers safety, eliminate any liability and show and grow your professional reputation versus others.

Legally the Dive Company or Instructor has a duty of care to be prudent when taking out divers and to pre-assess their readiness to do each dive. Obviously when taking an inexperienced diver beyond their depth limits and who has not dived for a while then it is easy to see where the liability lies.

The lack of experienced and well taught Instructors in the industry at the moment is a big factor in this happening, and that many will just take the cash. The buck should stop with professionals explaining the parameters to divers and the reasons for them. The fact that many will allow these practices to continue in many parts of the world, some are much worse than others, then means that a diver trying to do the same elsewhere does not understand when we tell them different. We have to explain why it is wrong and that their previous Dive Company was in fact incorrect in their actions. The lack of proper pre-assessment is a major problem. Divers who have got away with breaking the 'rules' previously will then try again until someone lets them get away with it again. Or as we have said many divers do not understand certain dives in relation to their current experience so need to be made aware and have it explained to them correctly.

The lack of good, experienced Instructors in many parts of the world is another reason for poor standards of general diving practices and personal divers abilities. Divers come to us regularly with no knowledge of basic diving fundamentals and it is clear to see poor previous instruction, and so more prudency is often required - but that is another story !