Thursday, April 27, 2006

Risks & dangers

Both deep and wreck penetration diving require specialized training. Each has its own particular risks and dangers. To mention but a few: nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity, carbon-dioxide build-up, gas mix-up, out-of-gas, decompression sickness and silt-out, disorientation, entanglement hazard, brass-fever, structural collapse, equipment failure, etc.

Deep wreck diving indeed is not without risk. People die. No matter their experience level.

On the trip before mine, an experienced closed-circuit-rebreather diver died. Another diver, on open-circuit scuba, got badly bent trying to save him. Luckily, despite the Thai navy's helplessness, he got away with it after several hyperbaric chamber treatments.

My own trip got cut short when the other paying trimix diver got lightly bent, even though he'd followed his dive plan. For twelve hours, most of them breathing oxygen, he had to lay down, convulsing in pain each time the decompression sickness waves hit him, until he got to the hyperbaric chamber on Koh Samui. Luckily for him, one five hour treatment was enough. Followed by a shorter one for good measure just in case. After which he felt like nothing had happened.

I myself got some 'niggles', deep divers jargon for decompression stress, in my left fore-arm, probably due to the strain of holding on to the line in strong mid-water current, preventing normal off-gassing. A bit more and it would have been decompression sickness too. Requiring hyperbaric treatment. Live & learn, as Michael would say.

That said, I consider my daily bicycle trip to & from work, 5km through the Copenhagen city traffic, as a dangerous activity too, not to say a hazardous enterprise, considering the frustrated, aggressive & irresponsible behaviour of some automobile drivers. Indeed, in the traffic too we venture in an environment we do not fully control, in conditions we do not fully master. But it doesn't stop us from going out there!

No comments: