Do you tell it like it is?

I have been a technical diver for well over 15 years now and since 2000 I have been a trimix, OC and CCR, DPV cave diver and now teach all these levels too. I have dived deeper than 100m/330ft, 1000s of metres into caves, under ice, on a DPV, with more cylinders than I can count and completed dives exceeding six hours underwater.
I am also the partner of a far more extreme technical diver and explorer and yesterday I was interviewed in this capacity. Martin has dived to well over 200m/660ft, many miles/km into caves, in some of the harshest conditions and continues to be enthralled by the challenges that extreme diving holds. Sometimes, I have dived with him, on other occasions I have been his lead support diver and yet others I have not been there at all. When we are teaching, we are rarely together, nor do we have the time (or guaranteed phone signal) to keep each other up to date with every time we get out of the water.
Support Diver sets up a cave prior to the BIG dive
As partners this gives us the fairly rare understanding of what we are each doing and the risks associated with extreme diving. It also gives us an insight into the motivation for choosing to dive to extremes and the rewards of a successful mission.
We have both been “injured in battle” and obviously have concern for each other the same as any partner would. The knowledge of what is happening in the body when DCS hits is both a tool and a burden. We know what help our stricken partner needs and can use that to plan and initiate treatment, but it can be frustrating when things don’t happen as quickly as we would like and we know the clock is ticking. It is also very frightening to have an understanding of the severity and explosive nature of DCS following dives of extreme depth and duration, but better that than ignorance (IMO).
I have recently been discussing at various dive workshops, events and shows the responsibilities of divers to their families and “other halves” and yesterday’s interview reminded me that each diver has a unique set of circumstances depending on their relationships, beliefs, type of diving they do, whether it is their job or hobby and many other factors.
So, what I would like to know is, what do YOU tell your other half?
1. Do you tell them that you won’t have an accident, so that you don’t scare them?
2. Do you tell them what the risks are, but that you are very careful?
3. Do you tell them that anyone can get DCS, even if they do everything right?
4. Do they know that most diving accidents are caused by human error?
And now the difficult question – why?
Looking forward to your comments,
thanks, Vikki

8 Replies to “Do you tell it like it is?”

  1. Hi
    I’m a french cave diver, cave instructor. More than 18 years of cave diving. Many solo dives and many solo push dives. Last summer, I’d a very serious accident, an IPE (Immersion Pulmonary Edema). I felt the icy breath of death. Not exactly a human error, just a boddy failure. About the risk. Everybody, my wife, my kids, my buddies, my team partners know that each dive could be the last one. And each serious and deep dive could be dangerous, with DCS…!
    I know this and I’ve always be ok with this. It isn’t a problem for me. I alwas do my best to dive safe. And I know I do well. But death and accident are a reality of cave diving. So the better thing to do is to prepare myself with this eventuality…! And to prepare buddies and members of the team. Accept this reality help me to be better and to be safer. Life is dangerous, you can die at any moment….!
    Best regards.
    pe deseigne
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  2. I’ve been a diver for 15 years, first 5 years were recreational, the next 8 years Trimix and the last 2 years CCR. I’m a dive medic technician at our local re compression chamber which is run by a volunteer team of 12, some of us are technical and rebreather divers.
    I have been involved in the treatment of number of bad bends over the years, especially when I was training in Plymouth many years ago and I’ve had a few transient skin bends myself over the years. I’m well aware of the risks i take every time i dive, what ever the depth, bottom time or hang time. I’ve always been up front with my husband, he learnt to dive with me 15 years ago but it wasn’t for him, so he doesn’t dive but he does have a basic understanding of diving, why I do what I do and the risks involved. He excepts what I do, as he knows I’ve gone to a lot of trouble to keep myself up to date with the science, technology and training.

    1. Tell it like it is but keep it in perspective.
      If properly trained and equipped and with sufficient relevant experience to safely undertake the planned dive then the drive to the dive site probably has a much higher risk of an accident resulting in serious injury or death than the dive itself.

  3. I started diving at 14. I am now 40. I recreational dive and tec dive, I started cave diving at 18 and my first SCR dive was at 23 CCR at 30. I have solo dived, wreck dived and conducted many cave exploration dives over the years. I have had two DCI incidents that I know of! My family and close friends understands the risk. My son started diving with PADI at 10 he is now 14 and loving diving. Risk is lessened by continuous training and in water time. You must understand the diving risks to be ready to act when needed. Ego is probably the biggest risk to young male divers ! I know I was one. I did things in my 20s that I would not do now. Keep up to date with training, skills and technology. Inform but don’t scare those close to you of the risk and young men keep that ego in check.

  4. I’ve been diving for over 24 years. When I was still a single, I told my parents about the risks associated to make them understand that I appreciate my life, their life, and for this I will be very careful. I started tec diving right after my marriage about 7 years ago. Told my wife that going into the tec range brought higher risk consequences. Again, this way I showed my family that I recognized and appreciated the risks, and that I would be extremely careful on my trips and continuously keep my skills and physical condition at best. My wife once told me that every time I went diving she always prepared herself for the worst. I keep her words deep in my mind, to remind me that I have my family waiting at home 🙂

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