Knowing the difference between looking safe and being safe can help you choose the right dive operator.
A dive center might say they are and think they are your best option, even appearing so on the surface. But what happens when one day there is an actual accident?
Yes, they might have oxygen, a state-of-the-art first aid kit, and a written Emergency Plan, but do they know how to use it all and most importantly do the plan work? Even if it’s a small dive accident, there could be a big issue if the dive operator is not prepared for it.
This may not be the biggest concern in a modern society where ambulances can be there within a few minutes, but when you are diving in deserted or publicly unknown areas? Wouldn’t you want to know that you’re in well-prepared and competent hands if emergency assistance can’t be reached?
Up-to-date Emergency Plan
The dive master may have made up a great plan for emergency situations and the instructor looked at it and thought it to be quite thorough. It was laminated and secured in a particular spot on the boat to be used in case of a dive accident.
At the time it may have been perfectly outlined and useful, but it doesn’t take long for things to change. An outdated Emergency Plan can possibly be a useless Emergency Plan. Numbers change, names change, procedures that worked before could be obsolete, having been replaced with new and improved life-saving techniques.
The importance of a working up-to-date Emergency Plan is crucial.
You want to feel assured that your dive guide knows what to do, that is one of the qualities he is hired and paid for knowing. He might comprehend emergency protocol, but small little details become hard to remember in a stressful situation even for the most well trained professionals.
Read this for Safer Diving: Team Emergency Planning for Scuba Diving.
Experience Matters in Safety and Diving
It really all comes down to experience, that reactions and actions are second nature. Your guide doesn’t have to have 30 years under his belt, but a few years working every day should almost guarantee this guy is going to be able to step up to the plate if he needs to.
Scuba diving isn’t rocket science. Preventing dive accidents or stopping them isn’t that hard. But the bottom line is they have to be done and be done properly.
Your dive guide needs to know what to do, who to call, when to do what, and make sure that the situation stays as calm as possible ensuring that his group doesn’t panic.
Here's more on Safer Diving: Situational Awareness.
Choose The Right Dive Operator
Planning the event helps in any situation, even a new dive guide can make a strong plan that works. Consider these things before your dive:
- How is the dive operator running their operation?
- Do they have things under control? If they can’t run their business then they can’t manage a dive accident.
- Are they qualified and are they capable of preventing or avoiding accidents?
- Ask to see the Emergency Plan before going on a trip.
- Ask what they do in accident situations. If they don’t know then they are not the best choice.
Your own Emergency Plan
If you are extra safety orientated make up an Emergency Plan of your own as a back up in case of an accident.
Check emergency numbers, routes, etc.
It always helps to know what you can do in an unlikely event, especially if you are miles away from home and anyone you know diving in a foreign country with local customs, laws, and procedures.