Thursday, October 9, 2008

Swimming and Drowning....the conclusion

Looking up at the water's surface, it is pitted by the raindrops falling above. Flashes of lightning temporarily brighten the sky despite 20 feet of blue water between me and a breath of fresh air. I slowly swim to the surface. One hand holds my spare regulator in mouth of my fellow diver and the other hand holds onto the diver's vest, desperately trying to keep him from careening to the surface, a potentially deadly action that could lead to severe decompression sickness (DCS), an air embolism or subcutaneous or mediastinal emphysema (air trapped in under the skin or in the cavity between the lungs). At the surface, the diver loses consciousness and requires rescue breaths as I tow him to shore. He's a good 50 pounds heavier than myself, but I have to get him out of the water and check for a pulse, doing so in the water is almost impossible and not very useful (you can't do CPR while floating in the water). At the shore, I send another diver for emergency oxygen tell him to call EMS at the dive shop nearby. I begin chest compressions.

Fortunately, it's all a drill. One of the many scenarios that I had to respond to while going on a "fun dive" with two other divers. Divers were bleeding, panicking, cramping, missing, and rejecting their life-sustaining SCUBA gear. It was great fun. I highly recommend the rescue diver course, if you're a diver. It was clear that some skills need regular practice and I don't always practice those skill. When sitting in 25' of water (that's a really shallow example too) and a diver is out of air and rejecting their regulator, you don't have much time to get to them, get your spare reg out and get it in their mouth, then purge the reg so that they can breath air instead of water, and then, while doing all of that, keep them from taking off for the surface. I'm now done with the rescue course. I was pretty much in the water all of Saturday and Monday in the course. On Sunday, however, I joined about 280 of my closest Bonairean friends to swim to Klein Bonaire, the neighboring island, and back. It was quite a sight. There were people everywhere and boats and kayaks on either side in case anybody got too tired. I don't know exactly how far it was but probably between 1.5 and 2 kilometers round trip. It was well worth doing. Unfortunately, my right ear, which has been fairly deaf for over a week, didn't benefit from 3 days of extensive diving and swimming, so I'm taking the day off.

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