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Old 07-05-2016, 11:02 AM   #31
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Re: Safety thoughts & observations, Oregon free diving

SWB Report - Trained buddy Saves a Life

July, 2016: Below is a quite important SWB report, a rare occurrence in Pacific NW, afaik, but the consequences are so dire, rare is irrelevant. This reinforces the need for free dive safety training, diving with a _trained_buddy, and wearing an FRV. Location; Puget Sound. Conditions: Quite tough current, swell and chop, likely the major causal factor due to exertion + impaired snorkel breathing _during surface intervals, plus only partial lung-fill before drop - in turn likely causing lower O2 blood-saturation and lower O2 lung-stored volume, than normal at start of the drop. A lesson: No solid breathe-up; No drops. Also, an FRV makes SWB-recovery positioning by a buddy as easy as pie - one pull on the manual-inflate tab. Wt-belt drop another consideration.

One SWB, one saved life by a trained buddy! Way to go Inosia!

Excerpts from WA Freedivers FB page follow. (Also posting in the 'safety observations thread, to keep that store of knowledge for Pac NW growing.)

Anastasia Strebkova: Today a friend saved my life.
During an ordinary dive, a bit less than 12 meters and a bit more than 40 sec (with my warmed-up average 1:30), no urge to breath, totally comfortable the whole time, tangled at the bottom, no panic at all, untangled, grabbed a nice crab, going up. Next thing I see is my buddy's face.
My buddy saw me surfacing, hanging for 6 sec and losing it.
There was NOTHING telling me it's coming. [[[No factors which could contribute to the blackout: depths, bottom time, pushing limits<<< well, not quite accurate, read on, I think Ana would retract the no factors part]]], repeated urge to breath, there was no urge to breath at all.
Obviously, there is no "diving conservatively" thing. It just hits.
Inosia Pati, you nailed that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Inosia Pati
I’ll start off with an apology, for my version being jumbled, for writing it like a story, for the mistakes I made as it all happened and for the spelling and grammatical errors I’m sure to miss. I took the courses, I dove for years, I practiced a rescue a time or two and then I had to use it all to help my dive partner in their time of need. I’m ashamed of the mistakes I made, for the things I didn’t do fast enough and for hesitating. I’m telling this to you in hopes that if you ever find yourself in the same situation you’ll be a little more prepared.
So we’re diving pier legs for crabs. This involves breathing up in 1.5-2ft chop between barnacle covered legs. Dropping down through 20ft of murk, finding visibility at the last 6ft, getting your bearings and making your way leg to leg looking for a big enough crab to take home. Crab or crabs secured, you swim through the murk back to the surface and do your best not to come up under a horizontal beam. Once at surface you measure your crab, check to see if it’s soft and then bag or release. Take the dive float from your partner and watch for them as they take their turn.
Ana went down on the leg directly in front of me. She’ll go down this leg and depending on what’s going on down below she’ll come up on the leg 25ft to my right or 25ft to the left. So I sit there and I scan back and forth holding the dive float with my hands. She comes up to my right and I start swimming over to her. I’m catching glimpses of her actions as I swim towards her. She takes her breath after hitting surface, through the chop and swimming I do not know if she’s taken one or six breaths, but I see her put her face back in the water. I’m close enough now to see what she’s doing underwater. She has a crab in her hand and she’s pulling her measuring tool up to make sure it’s a legal size. I’m right next to her at this point and I turn around to grab the bag attached to the float in preparation. When I turn back to look at Ana I see that she’s moving a tad bit sluggish as she brings her measuring tool around to measure the crab, and then the tool just falls out of her hand. It hasn’t clicked yet, I’m waiting for the hand to snatch the tool back up but she doesn’t move, she’s not moving at all.
I yank her up by the shoulder and yell her name, but her head just slumps forward. I’ve let go of the float by now, I didn’t clip it to myself from the start and now it’s floating away somewhere behind me. I flip Ana onto her back and position myself to support her. I manage to yell her name again before getting in position, the whole time wondering if she’s just testing me. Mind you that everything I’m about to do from start to finish was done with the questioning idea that maybe she’s just testing me and the growing realization that this is the real thing and it’s time to pull out all the stops. Ana’s on her back, I’m on her left. My left hand is holding her jaw and its one job above all else is to keep her head above water. My right arm is cradled under and around her back while my right hand is used to tap the side of her face. Before I put my right arm into place I take her mask off. Neither of us are in the right place or direction to take the surf very well in our current entanglement. And between every wave I’m alternating between following the rescue steps and using both hands to brace her head above water and kicking like hell to keep a wave from covering her face. Her mask is off, I’m yelling in her ear and tapping her face. I manage to blow across her face before having to brace her for the next wave. Come on Ana, I’ve done all the steps you can stop testing me now. She’s still not up, another round of tap, yell blow and brace. It’s jumbled at this point, somewhere I turned her around head towards the open ocean because it’s starting to be a struggle to keep her out of the water between the waves and I can at least keep the water from going directly into her nose in this direction. Ian’s in my head, “You have to tap harder”, blow, tap harder, and yell. She’s still not awake. We’re going in, I turn her towards shore, I’m giving her one more round, dropping belts and start working our way in. I push the four minute timer to the back of things to worry about because it’s not going to help me here. My calves are cramping, my calves have been cramping, I feel like the biggest idiot for not having dropped the belts from the start. I’m exerting so much to keep her head above the waves. [[Note: If Ana had an FRV on, the rescuer could have pulled the manual inflate, putting her in a great face up position almost instantly with no exertion/cramping and with some protection from the chop/splashes.]] I give her one more blow, tap and Ana response with “I’m fine”.
I had so many failures here that I sat on shore for a while to take in the view and the lesson. That float should have been clipped off, I’ve had to use a float for more than just holding fish before. It’s a safety device, and I left mine out of reach. I questioned what was in front of me, I didn’t believe it was real and as a result waited too long to take the steps that should have been done at the start. What if she hadn’t woken up when she did, I already cramped up and hadn’t even started moving us to shore. I didn’t hydrate myself, I hardly stretched I didn’t drop our belts. I watched a video of a free dive instructor testing one of his students or dive partners with a simulated b/o. He showed all the signs, loss of form into LMC and in came the rescue. This isn’t at all to push blame or anything of the like, that’s all my own and I put my name on it. I just couldn’t help thinking or maybe hoping it was a test as well. Now, that float is clipped off, both of my hands are ready and don’t ever test me unless you want to lose a weight belt.
I learned from this, if there was something that you were missing in your game plan, I hope this helped fill in the gaps a little. I’ve seen people attacking solo divers since this incident, and likewise solo’s defending themselves. I’m not going to feed into any of that. We hear about the ones who didn’t make it and every now and then about the ones who did, lessons are learned from both so I’m putting this out there for others to take from it what they will. Thank you Ian for doing that rescue refresher with me, I think it’s something we all as dive partners should do every now and again to make sure we’re ready. Before taking the dive course I didn’t know what to do for a black out and I wasn’t the only one, I hope that’s something we could change in the dive community.
I stood on the shore staring at the ocean lamenting my actions and choices when Ana came up beside me and said, “You trained what to do to save a life and that’s what you did, so don’t be so sad about it”. Thank you Ana for always giving me that kick in the butt.
Ana: U/W times were from 55 to 1:10. Surface intervals were at least 3 min, since we were diving one up one down.
I don't remember anything after about half way in ascent. I am going up and the next second I am in Inocia's hands. [[note: due to an already impaired ascent, Ana may not have been cognizant enough to do the PFI/FII prescribed 'recovery-breaths'. Important to make recovery breaths an _every time, 'muscle-memory' routine.]]
The only thing I can think of, >>>! because of the big chop and swell, I had water in my snorkel all the time and could not do full breath ups and take a full inhale before dives.<<<! I was diving on half breath all the time. <<<!
At the last dive I took a gopro with me, because I saw a huge school of fish at the bottom, which looked very beautiful in the darkness. I wanted to take a picture and check how my new silver 4 would work with such low light. It was on a stick, and on my way all the time when I tried to untangle the crab gauge line which stuck in the crack of a piling. Again, I didn't even get nervous about it, because I could drop my belt with the gauge at any point of time; it happend right after I reached the bottom and circled the "leg", and it took 15 sec to take it out. After untangling, I decided to skip the photography part until next drop and never powered on the camera. I swam along the bottom, saw a nice crab, took it and decided not to stay longer and go up.
Anastasia Strebkova The only reason I post it at all is solely for "user education". Feel free to share in a freediving group
Chris Bustad This is a great example of why we should NEVER freedive without trained buddy. You don't know when it's going to happen, and having someone that knows how to deal with it with you is what will keep you alive.

Anastasia Strebkova >>>You can add the physical activity to it. We were fighting strong current, swimming against it it all the time. That increased CO2 saturation + no ability to do a normal breathup to clean up the CO2 before dive and do full inhale. That might contribute too.
4 min surface interval. you can hardly call it a breathup since we fought current and swell/chop on surface to stay in one spot and watch for a buddy. <<<<
Leigh Anderson Thanks for the report. And saving Ana! Pls post on SB pnw too. Also note that yanking an FRV's manual inflate would have made the rescue a piece of cake. Due to Ana's dive time (only 40secs), i'm reconsidering my policy of only using my FRV for bluewater/Baja. I really didn't think my usual PNW dives of 30 ft and 40secs could result in an SWB. Now I know, it can. SWB is not just for clear-water divers doing 70-90 ft+ all the time.
Inosia Pati She showed me her dive watch and it read something like 41 - 48 secs. I seen her take a breath, how many she took in total I can not confirm. Intervals between dives were running on average 4mins +.
Inosia Pati I'm not with any of those groups at the moment but you guys are more then welcome to repost it there if you like.
First off thanks Inosia for saving Ana. Most rescues aren't perfect and the bottom line is the bottom line. Good job.
I had trouble reconciling why Ana blacked out until I heard the "C" word. I believe current is a major contributing factor of SWB in freedivers. Swimming in current puts the diver at an oxygen deficit. Lower than usual oxygen during the breath up due to swimming in current needs to be compensated for somehow.
First off thanks Inosia for saving Ana. Most rescues aren't perfect and the bottom line is the bottom line. Good job. I had trouble reconciling why Ana blacked out until I heard the "C" word. I believe current is a major contributing factor of SWB in freedivers. Swimming in current puts the diver at an oxygen deficit. Lower than usual oxygen during the breath up due to swimming in current needs to be compensated for somehow.
Jaap Verbaas Interesting idea, but does it reconcile with no reported urge to breathe? Pre-dive swimming would likely lead to earlier contractions because of a CO2 buildup. If I am on the treadmill with an oximeter I need to go quite hard to lower oxygen saturation, and at an aerobic output (98% saturation) I can still hold my breath for a while but get contractions right away. Our blood is 70 % of our oxygen storage, way more than the lungs hold. I guess a lot of this is different per diver, I usually get contractions, maybe Ana doesn't get them?
Anastasia Strebkova I get contractions, I am a human. No urge to breath at 40+ seconds is probably correlated to a half dive time [[Ana stated that her normal warmed-up dive times are much longer than the ~40-seconds SWB drop.]]
Dave Forcucci Not sure the physiology can be explained but there is a correlation between current and SWB. Even Natalia's incident mentions ripping currents.

Tags: blackout, pacific northwest, safety, swb

Last edited by quattroluvr; 07-07-2016 at 10:15 PM.
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Old 07-06-2016, 03:34 PM   #32
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Re: Safety thoughts & observations, Oregon free diving

Thanks Leigh. Current kills my bottom time. If you are fighting current, and chop inhibits your breathing, then you have a combination for diving with depleted oxygen levels. Evaluate whether you should dive at all under those conditions.

Good rescue. All's well that ends well. And yes, FRV for every dive.
nec timor nec temeritas (neither fear nor foolhardiness.)
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recovery, risk, safety, samba, swb

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