The following question was posted in the Survey section, and it prompted me to expand a bit on the subject: "Do you feel that the regulator/inflator combination is efficient enough to replace the octo. for a true distressed diver emergency situation and who is wanting up and out asap ?? I’ll leave it at that and let you decide."
First of all an Air Source Inflator is a great piece of gear, but like any other piece of equipment both the user and the buddy should be fully knowledgeable and practiced in its use. For personal diving I use an Air Source Inflator because I like one less hose. With students, however, I add an octopus to my system because it is easier and more comfortable for skills practice. The following is a list of things that should be considered when using an Air Source Inflator and they are not necessarily in priority order:
- The Air Source Inflator is used by the air provider not the OOA diver, and the primary second stage is given to the OOA diver.
- When using an Air Source Inflator the primary second stage hose should be replaced with one at least as long as an octopus hose or difficulty will occur when sharing air.
- It is more difficult to release BC air while ascending with an Air Source Inflator in your mouth (same hose), and an uncontrolled ascent could occur if not careful. This skill should be practiced until mastered.
- An Air Source Inflator is more delicate and requires better care and feeding than a BC inflator hose, but following the manufactures instructions should be adequate.
So there you have a few things to ponder if you are thinking about getting an Air Source Inflator, but the real issue is not which type of equipment is better, but whether you and your buddy are familiar and practiced with all your equipment and safety skills. If you ask most divers when was the last time they practiced sharing air or doing an ESA they will say during their certification training, and that just isn’t safe. Those skills should be practiced on a regular basis to enhance confidence and proficiency, and every time new equipment or buddies are introduced into the mixture.