2017 JS Diving Incident Reports

The table below contains a sanitised version (no names or units!) of the service diving incidents that have been received by JSSADC in 2016.

17/34On the last dive of an ocean diver course a rescue diver mistook one group of divers for the group he should have been with. The group the diver joined was a three (only one student) and all were dressed in similar equipment to the group with which they started.

The initial group realised that their rescue diver was missing and aborted the dive. The second group had started to prepare for ascent so the rescue diver ascended with them and all divers were recovered safely to the boats.
It is easy to see how this situation could occur in these circumstances. Rescue divers and instructors need to be especially vigilant when other groups are in the vicinity.
17/33Whilst on an overseas expedition a Sports diver conducted a series of dives where they normally surfaced with 110-150 bar in a 12 litre cylinder. Although the dives were relatively long, this low air consumption was attributed to excellent buoyancy and warm water conditions.

Shortly before commencing the ascent from a 43min dive to 24m, the diver signalled to their buddy that they had 150 bar. Whilst conducting a safety stop at 6m, the contents gauge suddenly dropped to 20 bar for no obvious reason.

Once safely back on the boat, other gauges were used to confirm that the cylinder did only have 20 bar left.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the diver's contents gauge would get stuck between 110-150 bar. At this point another diver indicated that their contents gauge would also get stuck at approx 90 bar but then moved once tapped.

Both problematic contents gauges were from the same manufacturer and supplied from the ATG(A) pool at Bicester. All gauges from the manufacturer at Bicester have now been quarantined and are in the process of being checked.
This incident highlights the importance of analysing information provided by divers. It is also important that divers highlight when they have problems with equipment.

The rapid response of the loan pool at Bicester to identification of a problem is also notable. Please let them know if you have problems with any of their equipment.
17/32A diver was unable to clear their ears at 4m and the dive was aborted.

Subsequent examination indicated a light cold was likely to be the problem.
17/31A diver deployed a DSMB from 15m following a dive to a maximum depth of 21m. The reel snagged pulling the diver upwards and causing them to be separated from their buddies. All the divers returned to the surface without further incident
17/30Towards the end of a dive leader training dive to a max depth of 19m, one of the students inflated their DSMB from a depth of 14m. They started to ascend and were unable to stop before breaching the surface at speed.

Although the diver exhibited no symptoms they were placed on oxygen whilst the DDMO was contacted. The DDMO recommended a check up at a recompression chamber which gave the diver the all clear.
17/29As part of a dive leader training dive in a low visibility quarry one of the students became separated whilst observing a demo DSMB demployment. The student inflated their own DSMB and all divers returned to the surface safely.
17/28Following an AS ascent, an Ocean Diver student was descending to 6m. They were unable to clear their ears and the dive was aborted.

Subsequently the diver was diagnosed as temporarily unfit to dive and removed from the cse.
17/27During a dive to 13m an Ocean diver trainee struggled to equalise their ears so descended very slowly. Whilst on the surface they reported having blocked ears but were able to clear them. The second dive took place without incident. As part of the debrief, the diver confirmed they were fit and well.

Approximately two hours after surfacing, the diver reported pain in their ear and a feeling of nausea which was followed by vomiting. The SADS contacted the DDMO who advised that the diver should report to the local minor injuries unit. Shortly afterwards the diver reported that their ear had 'popped' and they felt much better.

At A&E, the diver was diagnosed with an ear infection and given a course of antibiotics. They did not dive the next day.
Divers can feel fit and well on surfacing but become ill later. It is important that all divers know what to do in this situation and particularly how to contact the DDMO.
17/26Two and a half hours after surfacing from dives to 6.7m and 4.6 m respectively a diver complained of feeling unwell. The MRO, in consultation with the DDMO, decided that recompression treatment was required. Following two treatments on consecutive days, the diver was discharged.Diving related injuries can occur at very shallow depths. If in doubt, seek specialist advice.
17/25Following a sheltered water lesson to 2.6m, a diver reported problems with their ears. They were placed on light duties and removed from the Ocean Diver cse.
17/24A junior diver was preparing to use a loan regulator when it was observed to have a minor second stage freeflow. Further inspection revealed significant cracking and a kink in the vicinity of the hose protector.

The regulator was quarantined and returned for repair.
Loan equipment is often not looked after well so, if possible, it should be checked by a competent individual before use.
17/23During a dive to 16m, three divers on a wreck dive became separated in approx 3m of underwater visibility. One diver surfaced whilst the other two deployed a DSMB and attempted to carry out a 3 min safety stop. One of these was unable to maintain the stop and made a buoyant ascent to the surface.

The SADS signalled to the diver above the DSMB to recall the remaining diver who was carrying out the stop. All divers were brought together on the surface without further incident.
Diving in trios increases the risk of separation so consider the use of buddy line's especially with less experienced divers.

Safety stops are probably not appropriate when separation occurs as diving solo carries a significant risk.

Ensure all divers are aware of the separation plan.
17/22Following a dive to 6m a diver experienced ear discomfort during the evening. Medical advice was sought resulting in the individual being put on light duties and removed from their Ocean Diver cse.
17/21On a dive to 45m a diver was approaching their maximum allowed deco time. They started to deploy a DSMB but found it was tangled and took much longer than expected.

As a result of this delay in ascending the amount of compulsory deco required by the computer (Suunto Vyper) increased significantly. The divers ended up surfacing 13 mins later than expected having done nearly double the briefed amount of decompression.
Task fixation at depth can cause loss of situational awareness. On decompression dives it is essential to know at all times how long it will take you to get to the surface. Fortunately the divers had sufficient gas to carry out the additional stops.
17/20Following an ADP dive to 34m a diver was unable to hold their buoyancy on a 6m stop and floated to the surface. They vented gas from their wing and descended back to 6m to rejoin their buddy. The stops were conducted and all divers returned safely to the surface.

On surfacing the diver was placed on oxygen and the DDMO contacted. As a precautionary measure they were evacuated to the chamber and assessed by a suitably train doctor who decided no further treatment was required.
Having broken surface it is inadvisable to descend again.
17/19Whilst descending, a CCR diver experienced difficulty breathing at 6m. The dive was aborted and they returned safely to the surface.
17/18During the 2nd open water dive of an ocean diver course, a diver complained of ear pain. Following attendance at the medical centre they were advised not to dive for 3 days.
17/17Following a dive to 10m, it was observed that a diver had blood in their mask although had not felt any pain. The following morning they had a feeling of blocked ears and attended sick parade. The doctor advised no diving for 7 days but could find no injury.
17/16Whilst preparing diving kit, the cylinder was switched on causing the high pressure hose to rupture approximately 5cm from the pressure gauge.

This was the second failure of an SPG/hose in quick succession. The AT centre has subsequently replaced all SPGs with ones from a more premium brand.
17/15Just prior to conducting a buddy check, a diver's pressure gauge sheared away from the hose striking them on the left cheek. It was subsequently discovered that the gauge had been slowly unscrewed over time causing the spindle to shear off.

The diver suffered minor bruising and a ringing in their left ear for a few hours but no long lasting effects.
17/14Whilst conducting a mid-water DSMB deployment at 8m in a cold inland quarry using an octopus, the second stage started to freeflow and could not be stopped. Whilst this was occurring the diver started to ascend and ended up on the surface. Although not planned the ascent took place at a safe rate.
17/13In low visibility, two divers became separated. After 30 secs they were unable to locate each other and ascended under DSMBs.In low vis consider the use of a buddy line
17/12Whilst conducting a mid-water DSMB deployment at 9m in a cold inland quarry using an octopus, the second stage started to freeflow and could not be stopped. Whilst this was occurring the diver started to ascend and their instructor was unable to prevent them surfacing. The ascent took place at a safe rate.
17/11Whilst inflating a DSMB in 12m of cold water, the second stage of the octopus being used started to freeflow and could not be stopped. The diver went onto their buddy's AS and made a controlled ascent to the surface.
17/10Shortly after reaching the bottom on a 20m dive, and whilst one diver was inflating their DSMB, two divers became separated. Visibility was poor and after 30 secs neither could see the other. The second diver deployed their DSMB and both ascended to the surface without further incident.In low vis consider the use of a buddy line
17/09A diver conducted a dive to 20m which concluded with a 3 minute safety stop at 6m. On leaving the stop they experienced a sharp pain in their right ear.

The DDMO was contacted and a local doctor conducted an examination. No injury could be found and the diver was prescribed painkillers.
17/08Whilst diving at a UK inland site in February, two ocean diver students were conducting AS training as part of OO4. Whilst switching regulators a student's DV went into free flow.

The instructor conducted a controlled AS ascent with the student and the other student completed a normal ascent with the rescue diver.
17/07Whilst diving at a UK inland site in February, a diver was demonstrating DSMB deployment. Their egress octopus started to free flow and could not be stopped. Whilst attempting to do this a second diver had a freeflow from their man regulator which also could not be stopped.

All divers returned to the surface safely from 6m.
17/06An experienced diver entered the water with their drysuit open. Fortunately they were able to maintain buoyancy and were recovered back to the hard boat.
17/05Following a dive to 35m, a CCR diver started to feel unwell and nauseous at 12m. A dil flush did not improve symptoms so they bailed out and returned to the surface.

Subsequently the diver developed an ear infection and cold.
17/04Shortly after entering the water on a CCR dive, the CO2 alarm went off intermittently. Diver aborted and returned to the surface.

Unit was stripped down and more grease applied to the o-ring. No problems were encountered on subsequent dives
17/03During the surface interval between dives, a loud bang was heard and the medium pressure hose connected to a suit inflation bottle was found to have split. The hose was replaced and sometime later, but before diving commenced, this also split with a loud noise.

Subsequent examination revealed that the first stage was not holding inter stage pressure causing pressure to build up in the hose. The first stage was removed from service.
17/02Shortly after entering the water on a CCR dive, the CO2 alarm went off. A diluent flush was conducted but the alarm returned after 1-2 mins. Diver aborted and returned to the surface.

Subsequently the cannister o-ring was examined and a small nick identified. This was replaced and further dives conducted without incident.
17/01Whilst preparing to dive on a popular overseas wreck site, a diver was observed to surface in distress. The commercial operator was using a hard boat and still had divers down so the decision was made that the service RIB would provide assistance.

Upon reaching the casualty they were unresponsive and froth was seen to be coming from their mouth. A diver entered the water and confirmed that the casualty was not breathing.

The casualty was recovered to the RIB and BLS was commenced. This was followed shortly afterwards by oxygen enriched BLS. As the RIB made its way to shore the diver resumed breathing. and was then handed over to the emergency services.

Subsequently it was revealed that the casualty had an Immersion Pulmonary Oedema (IPO) but are expected to make a full recovery.

Without this prompt action it is quite possible that the casualty would have died. This shows the value of monitoring dive sites and being current in BLS.

Further details on incident reporting and the latest form can be accessed at this page.