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Scuba Professional: Column No. 3

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Scuba Professional

Where’s the Oxygen?

Simon Pridmore looks at how prepared dive operations really are to deal with a diving accident and suggest that we ask one key question before we choose who we want to take us diving.

I was a guest on a dive boat a few months ago. We had just arrived in Crystal Bay, a notorious diving accident black spot on the outlying Balinese island of Nusa Penida, when our attention was drawn by a burst of frenetic activity next to a neighbouring boat. A wet-suited figure was being manhandled over the side of the boat and laid out on deck. A couple of crewmen hunched over the figure while everyone else on board stood to one side, heads craned in concern. Seeing us approach, one of the crew shouted over and asked if we had oxygen. We did and we handed everything we had over to them as the boats met bow to bow. They thanked us, then turned and headed off at full speed to the main island of Bali, a good 45 minutes rough ride away.

I never found out what happened to the injured diver, nor what had caused the accident, but the combination of cool water, fast current and depth at the edge of this bay, where oceanic sunfish come to be cleaned, has caused more than a few inexperienced divers to elect for a rapid ascent when they want to “just get out of there!”

Scuba Professional

Japan is the only place I have seen oxygen delivery kits in the bathrooms on beaches used by divers

The Wrong Choice

Once the key first aid concerns of monitoring consciousness, airway and breathing have been taken care of, the recommended treatment in a situation like this is administration of 100% oxygen. The oxygen should be delivered as soon as possible and continuously until a diving doctor instructs that it should be interrupted or until there is no more left. Therefore every responsible dive operation, whether boat or land-based, should carry a sufficient supply to enable at least one diver to breathe oxygen all the way from the dive site until they arrive at a medical facility which has oxygen on tap.

I have seen and heard this statement or a variation of it repeated hundreds of times in my diving career. In fact, many of you probably just skimmed through the paragraph, saying to yourself “yeah, yeah, yeah, tell us something we don’t know.” As the importance of oxygen is so well known, therefore, you might expect that all dive operations would be adequately prepared to deal with a diving accident. Sadly, as the diver in this story discovered, this is not the case.

A Key Question

Before you dive with any operation, no matter how apparently professional it seems, make sure they have the right answer to a key question, “Where’s the oxygen?”

A friend tells a story of an enlightened diver who went to a resort destination in Southeast Asia and made a tour of the dive centres along the beach, enquiring about rates, service and facilities. When she popped the oxygen question, two shops told her they did not have any, telling her that oxygen was “over-rated.” When she replied that she had heard that it was actually essential, they suggested that she was gullible to fall for lies put about by more expensive dive centres to justify their higher rates.

It is not just cowboy operators like this who are under-prepared and under-equipped to deal with a diving emergency. In your excitement to go diving, you may not have noticed how many dive briefings gloss over the key issues of where the oxygen is and who among the dive team is qualified to deliver it. This is not always an oversight. In many cases there is actually no plan to deal with a DCI incident. The rationale given runs along the lines of “it hardly ever happens so it is not worth thinking about until it does.”

Failing to Plan

Even top dive operations are guilty of failing to plan adequately. For example, liveaboards often carry oxygen on board the mother-boat but not on the small tenders that ferry divers to and from the dive sites. Often this ferrying involves long rides to allow the mother-boat to float free in the deep channel away from the reefs. This means that if a diver blows to the surface, the nearest oxygen is a long way away and the delay in delivery could make the difference between tragedy and survival.

It is not enough just to have oxygen on board the tender. You also need sufficient personnel to bring an unconscious or disabled diver into the boat and to drive the tender while the diver is being given oxygen. Again, you might expect that dive operators would run training scenarios to make sure that they are able to deal effectively with an injured diver, but the number of times you encounter situations where there is only one person, the boat driver, left on the boat after the divers have gone underwater suggests that they do not. Or perhaps they run the accident scenarios but the problems that these raise and the amount of money and trained personnel that they would need to cure the problems mean that the issue is just filed away in the “too difficult” drawer and they revert to the “hardly ever happens” policy stance.

The Big Green Box

The reassuring visible presence of a big green box on a dive boat is not always, by itself, a reliable indicator that the dive operation is prepared to deal with an injured diver. Given that accidents that require immediate delivery of oxygen are thankfully rare, the oxygen kit can sit for a long time without being deployed. Stories abound in the dive industry of boat crews turning to the kit in an emergency and finding that the unforgiving marine environment has caused the rubber hoses to waste away and corroded the cylinder valve to the point of immobility!

Scuba Professional

The Reassuring Green Box

So, when the question, “Where’s the O2?” is greeted with a vague gesture in the direction of the green box, make a point of asking someone to open it so you can see what sort of condition it is in and if that cylinder with the reassuring green band actually has gas in it.

This may not make you very popular with your busy guide but as a diver you have a vested interest in ensuring that the people you are paying to take you diving are taking their responsibilities seriously – and the prospect of a few awkward questions might just encourage the idle or negligent to get their act together!

Read more from Simon in his latest release Scuba Professional – Insights into Sport Diver Training & Operations and his bestselling book Scuba Confidential – An Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Better Diver, both available from Amazon in paperback and e-book versions.

Simon Pridmore is the author of scuba diving books, travel books and, as you might expect, scuba diving travel books. Originally from the UK, Simon has lived in Asia for over 30 years. As well as his books and guides, Simon writes regular columns for a number of magazines. He and his wife Sofie currently live in Bali, Indonesia but spend a lot of time exploring other places trying (but failing so far) to find a cure for their itchy feet. Simon's latest book - Scuba Exceptional – Become the Best Diver You Can Be - the follow-up to his best-selling Scuba Confidential, is available now in paperback and e-book versions from Amazon stores worldwide. Find out more about Simon and his books on www.simonpridmore.com

Dive Training Blogs

PADI launches new job board to meet growing demand for PADI Professionals

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As pockets around the world are reopening, there is a growing demand for PADI® Professionals in many key markets worldwide. To support its membership, PADI has launched a full revamp of the PADI Job Board to help dive centres and resorts build winning teams and connect dive professionals with exciting job opportunities. The new platform makes it easier than ever to search, find and connect the world’s best dive professionals with scuba jobs available at PADI Dive Centres and Resorts around the globe.

“For the first time since the pandemic began, new postings of job opportunities for PADI Pros on the PADI Job Board are coming in faster than they are being filled,” says Kristin Valette Wirth, Chief Brand and Membership Officer of PADI Worldwide. “This is a great sign of the industry bouncing back strong in several parts of the globe. Incredible dream job opportunities around the world for PADI Pros will continue to increase as customers flood back, requiring dive operators and resorts to increase recruitment and hiring in order to keep up. With this in mind, we’ve prioritised updating the job board platform to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of connecting PADI Pros with PADI Resorts and Dive Centres to succeed.”

Accessible via the PADI Pros’ Site, the new job board offers a host of features to help PADI Dive Centres and Resorts manage job postings and candidates, and help PADI Professionals search and apply for jobs. The job board is also supported by in-app translations, so PADI Members can choose from more than 20 languages to view and post within the application.

The PADI Job Board has long served as one of the most visited pages on the Pros’ Site, with the launch of the new job board exceeding more than 31,000 unique views during the first two weeks of launch. Some of the new technologies and features aimed at further empowering PADI Pros, Resorts and Dive Centres are:

  • Manageability – PADI Retail and Resort members can more readily and flexibly post, edit, update and otherwise administer their job listings.
  • Resume posting – PADI Pros can post full resumes, making it easier for individual members and operators to find the best skillset matches that create winning teams.
  • Searchability – The job board is no longer simply a list. Pros and shops can search based on criteria without wading through irrelevant entries that don’t line up with what’s wanted or needed.
  • Direct connection – The job board allows direct connection so that operators can contact prospective hires for initial follow up.
  • Multilingual – Automated translation technology allows users to post and view listings in their language preference, reducing language barriers.
  • Notifications – Employers and candidates can enable notifications to be alerted of new applicants, job posts, invitations to apply for a job or interview, among others, so they never miss an opportunity.

“The PADI Job Board is a powerful gateway for employment opportunity throughout our membership infrastructure and provides the most global employment opportunities in the dive industry,” says Valette Wirth. “We expect the increase in job opportunities to continue to grow as travel rebounds. We will continue to prioritise supporting our PADI Members with the challenges they face during their recovery.”

For full access to the new job board, PADI Members can log in to the PADI Pros’ Site and click on the Job Board link on the dashboard.

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Dive Training Blogs

PADI Women’s Dive Day 2021 highlights important role inclusivity plays in creating balance between humanity and ocean

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PADI®, the world’s largest ocean exploration and diver organisation, is celebrating with divers from around the globe tomorrow for the seventh annual PADI Women’s Dive Day on Saturday, July 17.

With the overwhelming support of the dive community over the last six years, PADI Women’s Dive Day has grown into a worldwide celebration of shared adventure, passion and ocean advocacy. The annual event is dedicated to fostering a global community that encourages divers of all genders, ages, races, backgrounds and abilities to safely and confidently explore and protect the underwater world. Year after year, Women’s Dive Day activities have addressed ties between diversity, inclusion and environmentalism – with this year’s events scaled accordingly for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“PADI Women’s Dive Day is an opportunity for divers everywhere to unite as a community with the common goal of creating balance between humanity and ocean,” says Kristin Valette Wirth, Chief Brand and Membership Officer of PADI Worldwide. “PADI has a wonderfully diverse and inclusive community of members and divers in 186 countries around the world.  We celebrate this diversity, as it is embedded in the ethos of our organisation. We take pride in the progress we’ve made to increase diversity, accessibility, and inclusion in our sport and constantly challenge ourselves to do more.”

Since its inception in 2015, the event has contributed to the significant growth in the number of female divers and subsequently, PADI Torchbearers™ who have shared and inspired passion for ocean conservation. The dive community is teeming with female divers who are marking remarkable contributions for improved ocean health and connecting their communities to local waters. Throughout the month of July, PADI is spotlighting the stories and perspectives of incredible #PADIWOMEN around the world who are leading change by example and opening doors for countless others to experience the ocean firsthand, including Zandile Ndhlovu, a PADI Freediver Instructor™ from Johannesburg, South Africa, who founded the Black Mermaid Foundation to make the oceans more inclusive.

“Together as a global dive community we can save our oceans,” says Ndhlovu. “Once people get to experience the ocean, it changes everything around how they’ve always looked at it. It begins to also feel like home, a place that they will always protect. And that is why it is important that there is always diverse representation in the ocean.”

Other notable women include Xochitl Clare, a PADI AmbassaDiver™ and marine biologist from California, United States, researching the effects of climate change on fisheries species; Cody Unser, a PADI AmbassaDiver who is working  to introduce more people with disabilities to diving and promote the sport’s therapeutic benefits; and 13-year-old Julia Aveline Rabenjoro a PADI Junior Advanced Open Water Diver in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

“Learning to dive really transformed my life because it introduced me to a whole new intricate world that makes me feel at peace and it taught me how much we really depend on our ocean,” says Aveline Rabenjoro. “My greatest hope for the next generation of female divers is for them to grow in numbers and never doubt the difference they can make no matter where they come from or who they are. Together as a global diving community, we can further this by sharing our passion and love for diving with others who haven’t yet been lucky enough to explore beneath the surface.”

Divers and non-divers alike can connect with the motivating stories of PADI women and learn how they can join the community by visiting padi.com/women. They can find PADI Women’s Dive Day events in their area or participate virtually through social media conversations utilising the #PADIWOMEN hashtag.

Year-round, people worldwide can access PADI’s recently launched Conservation Activities Locator to find local events in their community. From joining an underwater lake cleanup in Connecticut to taking part in a week-long conservation workshop in Belize, ocean enthusiasts have a variety of experiences to choose from on Women’s Dive Day and beyond.

To learn more about how you can participate in PADI Women’s Dive Day, contact your local PADI Dive Center or Resort, or visit www.padi.com/women. For information about learning to dive, visit www.padi.com/education/learn-to-dive

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Competitions

Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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