2016 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.

52/16In the early hours of the morning on the 5th day of a liveaboard expedition, it became apparent that the boat's captain was in a reduced level of consciousness and entering a diabetic coma.

The crew were unable to locate the captain's insulin so the exped medic confirmed the diagnosis by carrying out a blood sugar test. Blood sugar levels were elevated by applying jam, honey and yogurt and oxygen was also administered. Concurrently the boat returned to port (2hrs) where the casualty was handed over to the emergency services.
Not a diving incident!
51/16Following a morning dive, divers on board a RIB changed their cylinders ahead of a second dive. A diver with an air integrated computer (Suunto Cobra 3) completed a buddy check and reported to their buddy and SADS that they had 232 bar of air in their cylinder.

Approximately 13 mins into a dive to 14m, the diver felt difficulty breathing, gave their buddy an out of air signal and transferred to their buddy's alternate source (AS). An AS ascent was conducted and both divers recovered safely to the boat.

Subsequent analysis revealed that the diver had entered the water with approx 50 bar and the '232' bar indicated was actually 23.2 m. This was the depth of the previous dive as the computer was in dive log mode. During the dive, the time (14:55) was misread as 145 bar and a low gas alarm (21% flashing) was also misunderstood.

The diver had dived with this computer many times previously but felt under considerable pressure as this dive was being examined for an instructor qualification. They believe that this pressure significantly contributed to the failure to identify the issue earlier.
Human Factors (HF) are an issue in a significant number of incidents. Complex instruments can be easily misread in pressure situations and it is recommended that a backup analogue gauge is carried when using air integrated computers.

Both divers should be congratulated for safely carrying out an AS ascent.
50/16Approximately 5 mins into a dive to 25m, a diver indicated to his buddy that he had a problem with his gas supply. The diver switched to his alternative regulator and the dive was aborted.

At 6m, a gas check was conducted which revealed that the gauge for the pony cylinder was at 0 bar. The diver transferred to his buddy's alternate source and they surfaced without further issue.

Following surface analysis it became apparent that the diver had been using his pony cylinder since the start of the dive and that there was plenty of air in the main cylinder. Both the DVs for pony and main were very similar which is probably why there was confusion.
If possible, main and pony regulators should significantly differ in colour, make or mouthpiece to reduce the possibility of this happening. Include both pony and main pressure gauges when doing air checks.
49/16Whilst diving on a CCR, a diver experienced a CO2 alarm on their handset. Diver bailed out and aborted the dive.
48/16During an expedition and after a dive to 14m, a diver reported a pain in their arm. The DDMO was contacted and advised taking the diver to the local medical centre. After examination by a doctor, and in consultation with the DDMO, muscle strain was diagnosed and the diver released to carry on diving.If in doubt check with the experts
47/16A small RIB with 6 pax was returning from a dive when it was swamped by a large wave. Almost immediately another wave filled it to the brim and divers exited the RIB

Supported by a second boat, divers used all available implements to empty the RIB which was successfully carried out before the divers got back on board.

On inspection it was found that the auto bailer was blocked by a foreign object. Subsequently divers were also positioned better in the boat to reduce the amount of water entering the RIB from waves.
Ascension Island has particular challenges for the operation of small boats.
46/16During a dive to 15m, a dive computer failed to accurately display the depth. Fortunately the analogue gauge on their console gave a correct indication. Tables were used until a 24 hr period of diving was completed and the diver resumed diving on a replacement computer.When using dive computers it is mandatory that a second means of monitoring depth and time is carried. The SADS must also brief a computer failure plan.
45/16During a BAR check, a diver observed that the gas from their pony didn't smell right. The pony was not used and subsequently examined internally. This revealed flash rusting and approx 100mg of water in a Factair vapour test.
44/16A CCR diver experienced a CO2 alarm at 30m and bailed out. Following a dil flush, they returned to the loop but approximately 3 mins later the alarm returned. The diver bailed out and aborted the dive returning safely to the surface.
43/16During a dive leader lesson, a diver was conducting a mid water DSMB deployment. Whilst reeling out their hair got caught in the reel, causing it to jam and pulling them towards the surface.

The instructor managed to cut the DSMB line using a pair of trauma shears stopping the ascent and allowing a normal ascent to be made.
BZ to the instructor!
42/16At 3m a junior diver reported pain in their ears that wouldn't clear. The dive was aborted and no diving conducted that day.

Following application of ear drops to clear ear wax, the diver was able to dive again. After a further four days of diving, the diver had a similar problem. Following a day off to allow ears to recover they were able to resume diving
41/16During a dive to 15m, a rented dive computer failed to indicate properly. The dive was aborted and diver waited 24 hrs to get back into the water with a replacement computer.
40/16Between dives, a diver stumbled and hurt their toe. They did not complete the 2nd dive but kept the foot elevated and applied ice. Later in the evening the toe was still painful so the the diver was taken to a doctor who diagnosed a small fracture of muscle damage. Following a further 24hrs of treatment the diver returned to diving.
39/16Following a dive to 20m, a diver deployed a DSMB at approx 10-12m in depth. The reel jammed and the diver was brought to the surface before they could release the reel. As a precaution the diver was placed on O2 whilst the DDMO was contacted. No symptoms were observed and, after a 12 hour break, the DDMO cleared the diver to recommence diving.
38/16A diver experienced a CO2 alarm at 18m and bailed out. Following a diluent flush the alarm cleared and the diver returned to the loop only for it to reoccur after approx 3 mins. The diver bailed out again and the diver was aborted.
37/16On the first sea dive of a CCR course, a student was conducting a bailout ascent from 19m. At around 10m they were unable to maintain neutral buoyancy despite the instructor assisting by venting the breathing loop. The student ascended to the surface omitting a precautionary stop at 6m. No ill effects were observed and the student subsequently completed the remainder of the course successfully.CCR bailout ascents, particularly with back mounted lungs, can be challenging.
36/16Prior to filling cylinders at a well know UK inland site, a Factair check was conducted - which was failed. The manager was informed and the compressor placed out of use.Gas checking procedures exist to protect divers. They should be fully complied with.
35/16Shortly after surfacing from a dive to 40m with 6 mins of live deco completed, a diver reported having a pounding headache. This worsened and the casualty was placed on oxygen whilst the DDMO and emergency services were consulted.

Evacuation by lifeboat and ambulance to a RCC took place where the diver was diagnosed with neuro, audio and vestibular DCI. Following two sessions of treatment and an overnight stay in the local hospital the diver was discharged to their medical centre.
The diver was young, fit and complied fully with the profile on their dive computer.

Prompt action and a good EAP ensured that the casualty received the best possible care.
34/16On the last dive of an OD cse, a student experienced difficulty in clearing their ears. Dive was aborted and diver attended sick parade.
33/16During an OD cse, the instructor noticed that a student's weight bely was in danger of coming off. The instructor tightened the belt underwater and the rest of the dive was completed uneventfully.Close monitoring of inexperienced divers allows problems to be identified and addressed early.
32/16During a dive to 26m, a diver believed that he had a bad fill in his cylinder. He changed to his pony and aborted the dive.

Subsequently the cylinder was tested and the gas deemed to be good.
If in doubt, take positive action.
31/16A diver complained of a headache approx 10 mins after surfacing from a dive to 27m. The DDMO was contacted and and requested a neurological examination be conducted by a local doctor. No further symptoms were identified and following a 48 hr break the diver resumed diving.
30/16During an expedition a diver reported difficulties in clearing their ears during descents. A shot line was utilised to allow them to descend slowly on every dive which allowed equalisation to occur.

Following a 24 hr air break, the diver reported bleeding from one ear and was subsequently diagnosed with a perforated ear drum.
29/16During a simulated man over board (MOB) drill a buoy was thrown over the side of the boat. Before the individual deploying the buoy was able to regain their grip the cox'n initiated a rapid turn with the result that a real MOB situation occurred.

The lifejacket inflated on the MOB and the drill was stopped allowing the person to be safely recovered.

Coxswains need to be aware of their passengers at all times especially during simulated and real emergencies
28/16Whilst diving as part of a trio to 12m in good underwater visibility (6m), a diver became distracted and separated from the other two. All divers carried out the correct drills and were reunited at the surface.Trio diving carries a greater risk of separation. All divers must be vigilant.
27/16Diver on 3rd open water dive of OD cse reported tingling in fingers and upset stomach.

DDRC contacted and advised placing on oxygen as a precaution whilst evacuated to RCC. Journey took 2hrs by car by which time symptoms had gone.

Doctor diagnosed ingestion of air/sea water and no requirement for further treatment.
Consider use of DDMO for advice and emergency services for movement of casualty.
26/16On the second dive of an ocean diver course, a student complained of ear pain during the descent. They were advised not to dive for 7 days.
25/16Following a descent into current a CCR diver experienced a CO2 alarm at 33m. After a diluent flush this cleared but then returned after approx 8 mins. The dive was aborted and a bailout ascent conducted.Likely cause is inadequate grease around cannister o-ring.
24/16After the first open water of an Ocean Diver course, a student complained of ear pain. After attending the medical centre they were advised not to dive for 7 days.
23/16Whilst diving on a wreck at 39m with visibility of 2-3m, two divers become separated. Both deployed DSMBs, carried out their decompression stops, ascended safely and were reunited on the surface.In low visibility extra care needs to be taken to remaining together as a pair.
22/16Whilst ascending from 38m, a diver lost control of their buoyancy at approximately 12m and made a gradual ascent to the surface. No mandatory stops were missed.

The diver was initially placed on oxygen whilst the DDMO was contacted. The advice was to remove from oxygen, monitor for signs of barotrauma and not dive for 24 hrs.

The diver's buddy deployed a DSMB and ascended normally.
If in doubt, place on oxygen and call the DDMO for advice
21/16A diver complained of ear pain ten minutes into their first open water dive which was aborted.
On attending the medical centre they were advised not to dive for 7 days.
20/16A diver complained of ear pain after their first open water dive. On attending the medical centre they were advised not to dive for 7 days.
19/16A very experienced diver surfaced from the second of two dives to approx 29m with a powerful headache. This was attributed to dehydration and ibuprofen taken to relieve the pain which lasted for approximately 24 hrs.

Approximately 58 hours after surfacing the diver felt tingling in the left arm (shoulders, hand , fingers) and weakness in the left leg. The DDMO was called who diagnosed DCI and recommended recompression treatment which caused the symptoms to subside.

The diver has a previous history of DCI having had a skin bend. A PFO check at this time was negative.
Any abnormality after diving, particularly those involving neural factors, should be considered a DCI and the DDMO consulted.
18/16Whilst switching to an ADP mix during in water decompression, a diver started to ascend and was unable to prevent themselves surfacing. Their dive computer showed 1 min of missed decompression stops.

The diver was placed on medical oxygen and the DDMO contacted. The advice received was to monitor for signs and symptoms of DCI but no further treatment was required.
If in doubt contact the DDMO.

Diver showed no symptoms and was authorised to conduct no stop diving on subsequent day.
17/16During a dive to 20m, two divers were unable to maintain buoyancy and made a rapid ascent from 13m missing out on their safety stop. DDMO was contacted and advised that they be placed on oxygen and given precautionary recompression treatment.If in doubt contact the DDMO.
16/16During a descent, a junior diver experienced pain in their ear. Despite this they continued the dive only reporting the issue to the SADS on the surface. The following day a discharge was noticed on the pillow. Subsequently they were diagnosed with barotrauma in both ears. Not equalising can cause injury.
Also consider use of DDMO for advice when divers report problems on surfacing
15/16Whilst teaching DSMB deployment a diver's Alternate Source (AS) went into freeflow. Diver transferred onto buddy's AS whilst cylinder was shut down. Diver returned to surface without further issue.
14/16Whilst working hard at 12m and 22 mins after commencing a dive, a CCR diver experienced a CO2 alarm. Alarm cleared after a dil flush but then returned. Diver bailed out and aborted dive.Likely cause is inadequate grease around cannister o-ring.
13/16During the shake out dive of an exped using borrowed equipment from loan pool stores, 6 of 27 dive computers failed due to unserviceable depth sensors.This issue is being investigated by ATG(A).
12/16Whilst practising AS drills in cold inland site (March), a diver's octopus began to freeflow and could not be stopped. Diver transferred onto buddy's AS whilst cylinder was shut down. On re-opening the cylinder the freeflow continued. Dive aborted and AS ascent carried out.
11/16Whilst practising AS drills in cold inland site (March), a diver's octopus began to freeflow and could not be stopped. Diver transferred onto buddy's AS whilst cylinder was shut down. On re-opening the cylinder the freeflow had ceased.
10/16An experienced diver carried out continuation/refresher training on Alternate Source (AS) ascents at the beginning of a dive. Approx 10 mins, and several gas checks, later they felt a tightness in their regulator and transferred onto their buddy's AS. It was then discovered that they had been breathing from their pony cylinder.Always include pony gauges in gas checks. Also, if possible, main and pony regulators should significantly differ in colour, make or mouthpiece to reduce the possibility of this happening.
09/16Following an ADP dive, one diver was unable to hold their depth in a surge and came to the surface. Second diver spent 7 minutes further in the water before surfacing whilst putting up DSMB and completing stops.Buoyancy control when conducting ADP dives is vital. Where possible DSMBs should be put up before deco stops especially when surge is present. Separated divers should surface as soon as allowed by their computer.
08/16A sports diver was at their maximum depth of 35m when a fin came off. The diver managed to recover the fin but doing so required a descent to 36m.
07/16Diver commenced a shore dive and felt a significant amount of water down their back. Dive was aborted when it was realised that dry suit zip was open.Remember to include your dry suit zip in the BAR check
06/16During a surface interval, a diver was sat underneath a metal sign. When they stood up they caught their head on the sign resulting in the loss of skin and hair. First aid was applied and the bleeding stopped.
05/16DSMB reel jammed during mid water deployment. Diver let go of reel and ascended normallyGood drills, better to let go of a jammed reel then be brought to the surface.
04/16Whilst ascending under an SMB as part of a sports diver lesson, a diver became inverted at 3m, tangled in the line and then ascended in an uncontrolled fashion. Diver failed to correctly carry out dry suit inversion drills.
03/16During weight check on first dive of an exped, a diver's fin strap broke. Dive aborted.
02/16 After the first dive of an overseas exped, a very experienced diver complained of a serious headache which took approx 10 hours to clear. The DDMO requested a full neuro check to be conducted which revealed nothing further. Diver told not to dive for 4 days.If in doubt, contact DDMO
01/16Following three dives at a UK inland site (5m, 8m and 18m) , an Ocean Diver student complained of hip pain. After liaison with DDMO, diver was taken to chamber and treatment was commenced approx 6 hours after surfacing.Aggravating factors include cold (Feb), multiple dives with training ascents and reverse profile dives.

Beware the pressure to do too much on a single day!

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

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