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DCS - Even if all goes well it can happen
lerpy - 7/25/2014 4:01 PM
Category: Health & Safety
Replies: 3

Wanted to share a dive incident from last week. The dive was a drift dive in the river where I dive often, the water temp was around 68 at depth. I was breathing 29% my buddy was diving air. The plan was to start out deep 120 and follow the profile of the riverbed that came up gradualy as we drift. My computer was set to air despite the 29%, added margin of safety in my opinion. My buddy had never been past 80 feet, and was newer to drifting and newer to diving in general.

Started out as planned, dropped to 120 feet on my computer, showed an NDL of 6 minutes. Drifted for a couple of minutes and as expected started to accend along the river bed increasing my NDL time. the third in our party seemed to have more issues, my buddy and I expressed concern over the third and made sure to check on him on a very regular basis to ensure he was ok. Drift continued up to around 80 feet where we stayed for several minutes, well withing the NDL showing on MY computer. Again slight accent to around 70 feet. At this point the third in our team took off up the river bank to the surface. Both my buddy and I are concerned so we shoot a bag and start our gradual assent. I get an alarm at one point for to rapid assent, I slow down and stop for a minute. My computer gives me a 4 minute stop at 15 feet. I follow the stop with my buddy following my same profile as he had the entire dive. We make our 4 minute stop and surface. The third guy in our team is on the boat and fine.

20 minute ride back to the dock. My buddy gets off the boat and starts indicating he has chest pain and tingling in his arms, and a growing pain in his back, and it is getting worse. Immediately I grab O2 and alert the others with us. We get my buddy on the O2, and another person trained in the medical field takes vitals, pulse is slow, skin is showing red like a sunburn, and he is getting the chills. We cover him in a blanket and continue to monitor. After several minutes the symptoms receed, however we are going to take him to a hospital to get assessed. We take the O2 off to help him out of his suit and get him in a car, immediately he gets worse. Vision goes blurry, the pain and tingling comes back, he starts complaining of really bad headache, he is having trouble with balance, and is becoming confused in his speech.

Long and short 911 - ambulance - hospital, and after an assessment at the hospital he is taken to a chamber and chambered for 6 hours. At this point I do not know the exact chamber treatment.

I, as well as my buddy, and the others on the dive that night have gone over and over the dive. As for the actualy dive, we did the same profile, nothing went wrong, there were no overly rapid accents. From his computer it appears he did not go past NDL, his computer showed max 113 feet, did not accended to quickly or any of the obvious causes of DCS. The only thing that came out in the medical assessment was he had not eaten since 2PM, ( we jumped in the water about 6:30PM) and he may he have been a little under hydrated. The individual is in good physical shape, takes care of his health and ironically is a paramedic so pays attention to health concerns. Still racking the brain on the dive profile and how he got bent.

Just thought I would post this for information and for possible feedback.
Greg - 7/25/2014 5:58 PM
Wow, thanks for sharing this. What river were you diving in that gets to 120 ft?
lerpy - 7/26/2014 4:21 AM
We were diving in the St Lawrence river. You can get to almost 300 in some spots. Good spot for some deep dives if you are tec and some great wrecks.
SeaGoat - 7/26/2014 11:00 AM
You’re talking about the St Lawrence River up by the Great Lakes, right? Many people are more susceptible to get the bends when they get really cold. What was the water temperature at depth? What type of suit was your buddy wearing? Did he have a hood?

Anyways, that’s my best guess. You can also call DAN and see what they say.