Trapped Divers

Caves and wrecks are similar in many respects and understanding, the aspects of them can help the rescue diver. It is not the intent of this manual to go into the details of how to conduct rescue operation for trapped divers, due to these areas being highly specialized, requiring advance training, special equipment, and experience. If the area your team operates in has any caves, wrecks, or ice diving activities, then the team should get expert training in how to conduct dive operation in these areas. All these aspects of diving can be fun, and highly enjoyable, but they also can be extremely threatening. If your area of operation has caves or wrecks, the dive team can lower the chances of problems by preplanning and problem prevention. First the Team must insure that every man is trained in all aspects of diving particular to their area. Any wrecks that divers frequent should be checked by the dive team routinely to insure safety. All doors that may close should be removed. Caves also can be made safe by placing signs that show the way out, or routes not to take.

Wrecks are often favored by local fishermen. Due to this they may have lots of fishing line, and hooks. Fishing line can be almost invisible. Rescue divers should always carry two knives, one being high on the body, incase you cannot bend to reach your leg.

Hatch ways and doors on wrecks must be secured open. Watch for jagged steel. Air pockets in wrecks may be filled with poisonous gasses because of decomposition or rust formation. Always watch for structural collapse. Ships, being man made are regular in design, and divers are less likely to get disoriented. Divers who have already been there can better describe what to expect. In preplanning, have someone who has made numerous dives on the wreck, or in the cave, come to describe the layout to the team. Blueprints, or diagrams of the ship may be available. Many Liberty ships were sunk after the war and all are alike, a trip to the book store may turn up a diagram of one. The point is, it does not have to be diagrams of the exact ship, though that is best, but of the same type.

If a situation arises and you find yourself disorientated in a cave or wreck, stop and think. Air is used twice as fast under stress. Bubbles on the ceiling may lead out, as long as you remember how you went in. Sometimes the entrance is lower than the actual area you will be diving. In that situation the bubbles will rise away from the entrance. Look for a safety line, buddy or other divers. Turn off your light and look for other divers lights. Light can enter wrecks, and turning off a dive light may show an exit.

All wreck and cave divers should carry a personal safety line. This is a line from 20 to 50 feet in length that used to attach to a location to search out from so you can return to your starting point. Use your personal safety line to search for other divers or the way out. Many caves and some wrecks have group guides or safety lines. When finding the group safety line check for marks (Droff Marks) that lead out. These marks are triangular with the point pointing the direction to the nearest exit. Assume all air pockets are not safe.

If the penetration divers are using safety line tenders at the entrance, as soon as they suspect a problem, or is signaled, they should tie off the line at point where the diver was lost. This gives the rescuers a distance to start looking.

Inside when you realize someone is missing flash your lights. Stop all activity and look and listen. Have someone tap his tank at intervals. Send one member to alert the surface Divemaster.

When you find a victim you do not handel him the same as open water. Do not drop weights. Do not remove any gear. Do not inflate his buoyancy compensator. If victim is unconscious and breathing hold his regulator in place, and tilt head back to keep the airway open. If found non-breathing, time is of the essence.

Rescue divers should practice going through tight spaces and passing their gear through them. This is best done by practicing with hula-hoops and they should tow a diver through a course, that is conscious and alert.

Ice diving can present itself as a major problem to the rescue team. Unlike caves, or wrecks that are stationary and can be dived by the team regularly to insure safety and recognition, ice diving can be done anywhere the diver picks. The team should meet with all the area dive shops, Instructors, and Divemasters to preplan dive operations. When a class or fun dive is planned the team should be alerted as the location of the operation as a type of "stand-by. Once the ice dive is over the Divemaster can call the dive team and tell them the dive is over. Dive teams must work with the diving community hand in hand in promoting diving safety.

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