Safety Culture

Defensive Diving, Part 2

“Dive the same way as you drive. Watch the ocean as you watch the road.”

In Part I of this two-part series (see issue 100), I made a correlation between scuba diving and driving a car, particularly in the context of learning how to anticipate and assess dangerous situations, make well-informed sensible decisions and stay safe—things that motorists tend to group together under the catch-all phrase of defensive driving.

A Brick Can Do That!

In scuba diving, going down and staying down are not the difficult bits (a brick can do that). Coming up again is the part that requires skill.

On 11 May 1996, five people died near the summit of Mount Everest. Two were expedition leaders, one was a professional guide and two were their clients. The events were first recounted in the book Into Thin Air written by journalist Jon Krakauer, who was up there on the mountain that day.

The Lone Wolf

The scene for this story is a liveaboard in Southeast Asia, which, on most of its itineraries, would offer guests four dives a day and imposed a 60-minute maximum dive time for each dive. Divers were also asked to stay together on a dive, and follow their guide. There were 12 divers and three guides, so each guide would usually be leading four divers.

Diver Error Highlights the Lethality within the System

Debriefing allows lessons to be learned—successes and failures. Photo by Gareth Lock.

Diving is not without risk—there is always a chance of death. There is always a latent or potential lethality within the “system”—where system is defined as the equipment, people and the physical, social or cultural environment. We cannot make diving 100 percent safe despite what anyone tells you. We can make things safer, but we cannot make diving safe.

What Does It Take to be a "Good Diver"? Part II

Technical diver in Lake Baikal, Russia. Photo by Andrey Bizyukin.

You are chatting with a diving friend and the conversation turns to mutual acquaintances. “Do you know Bob and Carol?” your friend asks. “Oh yes, good divers!” you reply. We will usually refer to someone as a good diver when they are not around. We will rarely say it to their face. And it is something that we all rather hope people say about us behind our backs.