Thursday, February 15, 2007

Must-Read Accident Analysis - A Review of Diver Down

A good way to learn is from your Own mistakes.

The best and often far safer way to learn is from Somebody Else's mistakes.

In Diver Down, Michael R. Ange analyses 20 accidents, fatal and non-fatal
that befell scuba divers in both recreational and technical dives. He
recounts in detail the series of events that caused the accident as
well as the aftermath.

Many of these accidents occur due to the divers disregarding the basic safety
rules of diving, such as attempting activities for which they lacked
training or equipment (wreck penetration, cave diving), taking
shortcuts with their equipment, or of breathing gas management.

Many of the accidents are such that the reader will think to himself "I
can't believe the diver just did that!". The choices made probably made
perfect sense at the time to the diver involved, but through either
ignorance or bravado the choices led to at best a near-death experience
or to injury or even death. Reading about these mistakes helps one spot
and prevent themselves from making similar bad decisions.

From these accidents Mr. Ange, a highly experienced scuba diver and
instructor, clarifies and reemphasises the "rules" of Scuba Diving.When
followed the rules keep diving a safer and much less dangerous,
although scuba diving is always an inherently dangerous activity.

Such rules include:

-Plan the Dive and Dive the Plan.

-The rules of thirds (use one third of your breathing gas to get there, one
third to get back, and one third for the emergency you didn't expect).

-The dive will not get any better. If there's something wrong fix it or
terminate the dive right there, don't let problems cascade into a
disaster, the dive isn't worth it.

-Listen to people who know. The divemaster or captain of the boat is giving a safety briefing for a reason. In addition, a more experienced diver telling you about the conditions or pointing out errors in your diving methodology is well worth listening
to, and your instructor is teaching you skills and impartingwarnings to you for a reason.

The only detraction to my enjoyment and learning from the book were the technical digressions (He has them labelled as "Special Topics")that were inserted into each incident. These shaded pages separated and slowed down the action involved in the accident story and distracted from it. While the technical sections were each relevant to their particular story and informative, inserting them inside the story was needlessly distracting and caused much flipping of pages (much like reading a magazine) to find the rest of the article. Placing these technical digressions either before each accident story or after them would have been much more reader-friendly.

This is a must-have book for a Scuba Diver's library. As divers, we can all learn from these mistakes and avoid repeating them.

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