Monday, November 5, 2007

Shots of Forbidden Island & Another Diver Drowns

After voting Saturday I decided to take a little trip to a few different spots on the island and get some pictures. This is is from the Forbidden Island lookout. You can see some people who hiked down the trail and are chilling out at the swimming hole. Here you can see Forbidden Island and the treacherous little strait of water that is between it and the island. There was a fair amount of waves and current on Saturday as there was a high surf advisory in effect. And the ocean claimed another victim at Lau Lau as we lost another tourist who drowned there Saturday. Another dangerous policy by one of the local dive shops cost the diver their life. The dive outfit was taking several brand new divers out on an "Explore Diving" dive, which means it was their first dive ever. The only smart way to take out a brand new inexperienced diver is on a one on one basis, one brand new diver to one dive guide or experienced diver. When you take out too many, the dive guide can't possibly keep his eyes on all of them at once, and you're just inviting disaster. If the dive industry here really wants to be respected and given full confidence, they really need to start policing themselves better and install policies that don't allow such careless accidents. This is looking down on one of the wave pools on the cliff line across from Forbidden Island. I've always wanted to go down and look around in that wave pool, but it would be a pretty rough hike getting across to it. Many times you will see green sea turtles coming up for air down below, you'll see their shell on the surface of the water. I never get tired of looking at scenes like this one, watching the waves crash on the rocks and go surging through the channels. Watching them refresh the wave pools, washing in eels, fish, shells and various other sea life. And this outcropping of rock is to the north of Forbidden Island and juts out from Saipan. The Forbidden Island lookout is one of those spots that is definitely one of Saipan's jewels, yet we really don't do anything whatsoever to promote it. There are no signs showing you where to turn off from the main road, and if you don't know where you're going, you'll probably never find it. We have some amazing spots and amazing scenery, but we really don't do a very good job of showcasing the spots to our tourists.


scubatripp said...

From the news paper article the diver death does not sound like a drowning at all.
It sounds like a heart attack on the surface prior to entering the water.
Obviously something that can not be easily predicted even with proper medical screening and certainly something that can not be blamed on having too many beginner divers in a group.
If the paper is correct then the mistake made by the guide(s) in this case was that neither of them accompanied the diver (who had chest pain and decided to abort the dive) back to shore.
A golden rule all instructors learn is that you don't leave a student unattended, on the surface or underwater especially if you have an assistant or dive master with you to attend to them.

I do disagree with the comment that the only safe way to train someone to dive is in a one on one situation with an instructor or experienced diver. While it is true smaller groups are prefered they are not necessarily required when proper teaching occurs.
Proper instruction includes addhearing to established guidlines for instructor to student ratios and depth limits as well as having students complete required skills to a level of compentancy during confined water (pool like) situations.

Ultimately a beginner student is far more safe, whether in a group of 4 or in a one on one situation if they have been properly trained in the skills necessary to dive and the person taking them has been properly trained in the skills required to prevent problems before they occur and to properly deal with issues should they happen.

Lets take the example of this past accident. What if the diver who had the heart attack did so at the start of the dive with an experienced diver who had never before done an in water rescue of a panicked or unconscious diver.

Would they know what to do? Would it matter if there was only one diver in the group or 5? Ultimately the chances of a diver being rescued after having a massive heart attack in the water are slim even when the best care is available quickly but it is next to none if the person responsible for that diver is not trained in what to do if something does go wrong.

That goes for nearly any potential problem that exists underwater. Part of good instruction is being alert and assessing a persons skill/comfort level prior to putting them in a situation of greater risk and being able to identify potential problems before they occur, but ultimately being able to properly deal with them when they do.

Without these skills it does not really matter whether it is one on one or in a group of four, the beginner diver is far safer getting proper, quality instruction from the start.

Brad said...

I was told by a dive shop owner (you can guess who) that the dive shop involved has tried to 'spin' this as a heart attack. He said the facts were that the victim started drowning and was brought to shore where they performed CPR. After nearly one hour the 911 services arrived (an ambulance, I presume)and pronounced the victim dead.

Perhaps the victim did have a heart attack but if it was triggered by the initial drowning, or panic during the seems shameful that the dive shop is trying to escape blame by saying the victim had a heart attack and had nothing to do with participation in scuba diving.