The role of the safety diver is a critical one for deep diving operations. It helps ensure the safety of everyone involved and generally makes the exploration diver’s lives a whole lot easier while doing the deco time on the line. Often the safety diver also plays the role of surface support team member before diving commences.
We’ve divided the procedures below into standard things you’ll do… and things you’ll be prepared for but hopefully won’t ever use in real life.
Pre Dive Requirements
- Over 18.
- DAN insurance or equivalent.
- Certified diver with a rating of rescue diver or higher.
- Good buoyancy control.
- Ability to react to fluid situations.
- Willingness to learn about team members specific gear.
- Rebreathers from different manufacturers, open circuit divers, and flux capacitors.
- Willingness to work with boat Captain to ensure safety of all team members.
- List dive teams and deco schedules on wall chart.
- Verify return times and 70 foot travel times.
- Safety diver will be responsible for the documentation of all expected team run times and be able to communicate to the Captain any deviances from the projected times.
During the Dive
- When the last member of a team leaves the surface document the exact dive start time.
- It is helpful to use a single time piece throughout the dive operations to ensure everyone is on the same schedule.
- While team members are diving, maintain vigilance for any deployed SMBs.
- SMB deployment will be covered under non-standard procedures.
- Enter water to coincide with last teams projected 70 foot stop time. This might be a bounce dive.
- Count each diver and ensure all team members are on the deco-station.
- No ok’s or extra communication is required.
- To ensure promptness of emergent situations, each diver is responsible of informing safety diver of problems.
- Emergent needs will be covered under non-standard procedures.
- If safety diver notices anything out of the norm or divers in distress, do not hesitate to notify other team members or render aid as necessary.
- Ensure deco-platform is free of grapple lines.
- After completion of diver count, divers may request/hand off unneeded equipment such as cameras, scooters or extra tanks.
- When a scooter is handed off donating diver is responsible for trigger being locked and prop backed off.
- Do not, under any circumstances allow divers to encumber you with more equipment than you can safely handle.
- Make multiple trips if necessary.
- Return extra equipment to boat and inform Captain of diver count.
Non Standard Procedures
SMB (Surface Marker Buoy)
- Check to see name on bag, this will tell you which team.
- Check slate on bags for needs or problems as listed by the dive team that deployed the smb.
- If slate lists gasses or equipment needed, bring them with you on descent.
- Descend down smb line no greater than depth required. Do not incur any decompression requirements. Check on divers, deliver any requested equipment/gasses.
- Retrieve any unnecessary gear as requested by divers.
- Ascend and report to Captain.
- Co-ordinate any further assistance as needed.
Bail Out from a Rebreather
- Immediately check bailed out diver for an ‘ok’ sign.
- It is the bailed out divers responsibility to inform safety diver of any needs. Most likely this will be extra gasses.
- Safety diver co-ordinates gas donation.
- Other members of the team will have extra tanks, but safety diver might be tasked with tank shuffling between divers.
- Safety diver might also be tasked with returning to the boat for more gasses.
- Assist injured diver back onto boat.
- Keep written list of all information regarding diver condition and injury.
- Keep track of injured divers equipment.
- Assist Captain and emergency personnel as requested.
- Injured divers are placed on O2.
- In a suspect case of dcs, injured diver cannot make non-dcs call.
- If symptoms or concerns are present, safety diver can call it as a dcs hit and all divers on the boat will treat it as such.
- If safety diver calls a dcs hit, this is a final judgment and there will be no argument.
- All suspect/confirmed cases of dcs will be evacuated on Captains and safety diver’s direction at the earliest opportunity.