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Stress and Rescue Weekend
Saturn5 - 6/11/2007 12:00 AM
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Category: Personal
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Figured I`d be a bit busy to do anything with the camera this weekend so I didn`t even take it along. So not picture with this entry

Knowing we were going to be worn out Sunday we decided to go down early and do some fun diving on Friday evening. Was a beautiful day. We took the boat out to Starky`s Island and Robert and I buddied up and Mark, Steve, and Joe buddied up. Robert and I surface swam around to the south side of the island where the channel cut laid. Our plan was to drop to around 100 with agreement changes each five feet thereafter. We found a great way down and pretty soon we were at 125 so we decided to follow the terrain back up. We came to this huge cliff. Looking up the thing was amazing, just had to stop and admire it a bit. Then we came back up and followed the island terrain back around on box bearings to the boat. We changed tanks and looked around for the other guys during our surface interval. We purposely left our old tanks in the way next to the diving platform so it would be obvious to the others that we had been back and changed out tanks (they knew we were going deep). The next dive we stayed on the north side of the island and piddled around down to 71 feet. I did find a nice folded up (though rather ratty) towel, so I got it and brought it back for Joe. When we got back on the boat the other group was already up and so we cast off and headed back to the house.

Four of us went out to finish up our stress and rescue course at Beaver Lake this weekend. Of course, I was the smallest in the group so carries were quite a chore. It was absolutely great. Gary was our instructor for the weekend with Bill helping him out as DiveCon. He had 4 open water students as well when we were out on the boat but the two of them did great concert in making sure that we all (meaning both classes) got the attention that we each needed.

Everyone knows that rescue courses tend to be a bit on the physical side of things. I certainly found out that I have a whole lot of conditioning that I need to do before the DiveCon course that we are trying to put together beginning in August. Most of my problem was in preparation. I hadn`t expected so much swimming without gear. I`m a good swimmer, but as I found out am quite lacking in my endurance. He sends us out swimming and after an eternity or so he finally gives the call to swim back. I have been a swimmer all my life, taught lifeguarding and wsi courses for years (not in the past 10 years though), so am mentally very comfortable around all aspects of water. I seriously thought I was going to drown on the introductory swim. When we got back to the boat, we tread water for another eternity. Then it was back on the boat, but not using the dive platforms, of course. We had to climb up over the gunnels. Needless to say we were all pretty well wiped out. That was just the start of being tired for the next couple of days.

We covered all the tows, assists, and the mechanics of what we were going to be doing, towing each other forever it seemed. Our favorite was the "you didn`t go out far enough so go do it again" exercises. After we had covered all the mechanics skills he let it go do a fun dive, so we went over to the channel and followed the wall along for a while. It was pretty cold down there, but we kept with just a gentle glide back following terrain back to the boat. We must have made more course changes in the channel than I had thought because we became a bit geographically embarassed and missed the boat by about 100 yards or so. Not bad for a group of exhausted guys, ay?

In the afternoon we started putting things together and going down and working with submerged victims, whether a stress rescue or an unconscious rescue. Then came the wonderful carries. Nah, couldn`t do these while we had energy, had do carry the huge guy out several times using the variety of different carries at the end of the energy cycle. Was good though. It got everyone to the breaking point... Literally in some cases. Mark separated some cartalidge in his ribs, I came down on my foot with Joe on me and it didn`t really start swelling up till last night, but I seriously thought I had broken it then. Chilled with it a bit and picked him back up and took him ashore.

That night we feasted at the house and did a lot of review of the course materials for the test. We elected to take the test Saturday night. Sunday was a lot less physically exhausting, though still pretty demanding. But we worked with search techniques and found our victims that way and then had to deal with whatever sadistic problem had been provided. Those were a lot of fun to do. A lot more on the thinking side of things, then executing whatever needed to be done for the rescue.

After all our coursework was done we headed off to the bus. Steve had never been there before so we chose him to lead us there, bearing 032 and the bus should be at around 35 feet. So off we go, I was looking occassionally at bearings, but not really. We got below where the bus would be, we were at around 45 feet. I grabbed his fin and stopped him while we figured out what we wanted to do since we had missed the bus. (options of course are going lateral to find the bus or just go exploring). We went expoloring and found this beautiful forest at around 71 feet. I flagged him that my air was at 1000psi. We gathered and I suggested raising to around 50` so we could take bearing 210 back to the boat. At 50` we were still in the trees so we went on up to 35`. I showed him my guages that I was flashing and under 700psi. We needed to go up to the safety stop level, swimming course 210 to the boat. Finally when I was around 600psi I got his attention and just told him I was going up to 15` and headed back to the boat on bearing 210. And I headed out. Easy to keep bearing, but difficult to keep within the bouyancy window without any visuals. Was a complete instrument return. When my computer told me I was good for surface I came up to the surface and was about 50 yards shy of the boat. When I got onboard I had 254psi. Thst`s the lowest air I`ve ever exited with. While I was swimming on the surface (I use a wing back, so it`s actually easier to swim backwards if tired and not wanting to be on air) I saw the others surface out about 150 yards from me.

I was not pleased that an out of air situation could have developed and gone bad with that level of dive group. Those who know me and dive with me know that I`m at or below 100 a lot. I`m very comfortable at depth, but also have enough experience diving that deep that I know when we have swam a long way from entry point (thus from exit point) and anyone in the group is below 1000psi, there isn`t time for much more than getting to exit safely. I knew the course back to the boat, but wasn`t sure the time for swim as we had kept a pretty fast pace out. Being low air, I know I`m going to be swimming much more gently so I have enough for safety stop level swimming. I just knew that we had to start that now, or I would be out of air.

Had I been diving with a less experienced group, I would have taken them to safety level and then surfaced with them. With this group, I knew there were two others that could continue together if they chose so I told lead what I was doing and executed my plan. That really bothers me though. Still bothers me now. This course is a step toward dive leadership and to me, even if I have lots and lots of air, if someone in the dive group shows low... then it`s exit time. Doesn`t have to be drastic, air sharing is an option for a while or other options that present to make it not an emergency. But the key factor is that the dive is done at that point, the only thing left as a group leader is to get everyone to exit safely.

Just thought I`d share some of those thoughts. Unders