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Thread: When My Rebreather Saved Me!

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    RBW Member dreamdive has disabled reputation dreamdive's Avatar
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    When My Rebreather Saved Me!

    I am sick and tired of the rhetoric that "rebreathers are death machines". I almost drowned when I was still OC and would never gotten cave certified OC.

    So rather than focusing on rebreather deaths, I am asking this group to share about their rebreather saves.

    If we don't change the perception of rebreathers being this 'dangerous device that will try and kill you' (which I wholeheartedly disagree with), we will continue seeing boat operators denying rebreather divers on their boats and shops avoiding to becoming 'rebreather friendly'.

    Claudia

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    Supporting Member Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36 has a reputation beyond repute Dsix36's Avatar
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    Re: When My Rebreather Saved Me!

    I will post a few of mine when I get to my PC.
    .
    I guarantee that if you CLICK HERE you will not have your view blocked by clothing





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    Re: When My Rebreather Saved Me!

    Funny, I'd have thought this would be a pretty short list.

    Fact: rebreathers introduce a whole bunch of risks and failure points which simply don't exist in open circuit. And in exchange we get longer run times when/if things are working when they should.

    They ARE riskier to dive than open circuit, everything we train and do mitigates those risks maybe but doesn't remove them.

    I personally think the "death machines" attitude is pretty apt, and a pretty important one in keeping rebreather divers aware of the added risks and the extra efforts to which we MUST go in order to mitigate those risks, lest our complacency lead to more entries on Mr Dias's famed spreadsheet.

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    Re: When My Rebreather Saved Me!

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Starfish  View Original Post
    Funny, I'd have thought this would be a pretty short list.

    Fact: rebreathers introduce a whole bunch of risks and failure points which simply don't exist in open circuit. And in exchange we get longer run times when/if things are working when they should.

    They ARE riskier to dive than open circuit, everything we train and do mitigates those risks maybe but doesn't remove them.

    I personally think the "death machines" attitude is pretty apt, and a pretty important one in keeping rebreather divers aware of the added risks and the extra efforts to which we MUST go in order to mitigate those risks, lest our complacency lead to more entries on Mr Dias's famed spreadsheet.
    Being underwater is the dangerous bit

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    John H Hanzl johnnyh is an unknown quantity at this point johnnyh's Avatar
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    Re: When My Rebreather Saved Me!

    I'm honestly pretty sure my rEvo saved my life. When I get a moment I'll write up why.
    John Hanzl

    Author, Out of Hell's Kitchen
    www.outofhellskitchen.com

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    RBW Member dreamdive has disabled reputation dreamdive's Avatar
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    Re: When My Rebreather Saved Me!

    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Starfish  View Original Post
    Funny, I'd have thought this would be a pretty short list.

    Fact: rebreathers introduce a whole bunch of risks and failure points which simply don't exist in open circuit. And in exchange we get longer run times when/if things are working when they should.

    They ARE riskier to dive than open circuit, everything we train and do mitigates those risks maybe but doesn't remove them.

    I personally think the "death machines" attitude is pretty apt, and a pretty important one in keeping rebreather divers aware of the added risks and the extra efforts to which we MUST go in order to mitigate those risks, lest our complacency lead to more entries on Mr Dias's famed spreadsheet.
    I am not arguing that you do not have a point. Although I wholeheartedly disagree with the view that the machine is a 'death machine', as you put it. There is a flip side. I can tell you that I am not afraid of drowning in a cave because I have some catastrophic failure on OC or gotten lost...

    What I am interesting in and trying to bring out are all the SAVES we had on our rebreathers! Surely you would have to agree that those exist :)

    Thank you for posting your view.

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    Re: When My Rebreather Saved Me!

    Someone did a nice writeup years ago. Don't remember who, or even what board. But the story I remember reading went something like this...
    Planned 2-hour dive to a wreck. Wasn't planning penetration. Stuck head in and looked around the corner. Got too far in (wreck penetration mistake) and got lost in silt. Surfaced several hours later then planned, alive. If on OC would have run out of air trapped in the wreck.
    The real story had a lot more details. It was a good thought invoking read. If I get some time I'll search for it.

  8. #8
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    Re: When My Rebreather Saved Me!

    I have more than a couple, but will just highlight one.

    First: Remember when I started diving rebreathers - back when there were literally 6 to 10 people in the world doing so regularly, and we all knew each other... None of the "protocols" or "techniques" or "training" that is so widely accepted today was around back then. We were literally making this shit up as we went along, and learning from others who quite often paid with their lives.

    Shooting inside a submerged cave system off of Fiji. Entrance to the Cave was at 220', which then extended into a submerged reef for a couple thousand feet before splitting and then rising into ever smaller chambers, the last of which was around 60 feet deep (inside the reef) where we had to take our gear off and shove it through the cracks to get into the last chamber where two Pilot Whale babies skeletons were located.

    I was responsible for measuring the skeletons for age and sex determination, as well as collecting bone specimens for later Carbon Dating (I was working off a CITES permit from Scripps).

    One of our divers (who since he is dead, I won't besmirch in public) had no clue as to how to dive in a cave (to be honest, neither did I, but I knew enough not to kick like an idiot and silt the whole damned thing out) did exactly that - was flailing about in the deepest part of the cave and silted the entire thing out. I was in a chamber where a skeleton we nicknamed "big bird" was located, and saw a tsunami of silt flowing into my area.

    Within seconds, I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. My light actually made the situation worse, since the reflection off the silt just had a blinding effect. I made my way down the length of the skeleton to where the entrance to the chamber was. As I approached I thought I saw at least 2 light flashes pass by the exit to the particular chamber I was in.

    Realizing that my light was useless, I turned it off.

    I'm not James Bond, so my heart was pumping a bit, and I was no doubt breathing a bit heavier than I normally would if totally calm. I was balls-deep into this cave, we did not run a Reel (yeah, I know, I know...), so the only way out was to try and figure out how to work my way through the dark, hand over hand.

    Fortunately, I was wearing a Mark 16 and knew I had plenty of gas on my back so the worry of running out of air was not there. I also knew that the path into this cave led inexorably UP, so in order to find the exit at 220' I had to go DOWN on my way out.

    I began feeling my way through the muck, turning on my light every now and again to see if the silting had cleared (it hadn't), and eventually decided it was just better to move in the dark. I ran into lots of walls, the ceiling, took a couple of bad turns that led nowhere, but eventually in the far distance detected a faint blue glow. It was the exit to the cave.

    I made my way toward the blue, and eventually found the cave exit.

    Once there, however, my thoughts turned to the fact that I had only seen 2 flashes of light heading down from the back of Big Bird's chamber - and I knew that we had 4 divers in the cave. Me + 2 Flashes = 3 divers.

    Again - since I had a Mark 16 on my back, and was only 2 hours into this particular dive, I decided that I should at least TRY to see if there were any other divers in the cave. No, I wasn't going back in - but I had an idea that if I went up to the entrance of the cave and flashed my light on/off/on/off and swept it back and forth, if there WAS another diver in there, they might have done the same thing as me, shut off their light, and would possibly detect my sweeping light motion to find the exit.

    I did this for about 15 minutes, watching my deco schedule get blown to hell at 220'. Just when I was about to quit and bail, I saw a figure coming out of the exit to the cave. It was the idiot diver who silted everyone out. (BTW: He was wearing a Mark 15.5)

    He swam by me like a lightning bolt - his eyeballs were almost glued to the front of his mask, they were so bugged out. I mean, he didn't even stop to see if I was ok or anything.

    I made the decision that he must be the last one in the cave (which was right) and began my slow deco.

    Back at the surface, once he had calmed down (he ran to his room and hid for a while, he was so freaked out), he asked the assembled group "who was shining the light?" - when I told him it was me, he practically kissed me on the mouth... "I thought I was dead, dude" was all he said, and we never spoke about it again.

    Had we been on OC, we both probably would have been dead. Having a rebreather that day saved both our lives. I may have been able to save myself by just getting the hell out of the cave and making my way to the surface, but the other guy would have been dead for sure.

    There are other stories I've got where a CCR was rather helpful. It could be argued, I will admit, that NOT having a CCR would have meant we wouldn't have put ourselves in these ridiculous situations, or would have had to plan OC much better, but again, we were all figuring this shit out on the fly - diving home-made equipment including Sensors which were made by Mike Iswalt in his Kitchen...

    I'm really happy that Standards and Practices have been worked out over the years, but at the same time, I'm really proud that I was there at the beginning of this whole crazy "Tech Diving" revolution (FWIW)...



    Kevin Juergensen

  9. #9
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    Re: When My Rebreather Saved Me!

    Quote Originally Posted by broncobowsher  View Original Post
    Someone did a nice writeup years ago. Don't remember who, or even what board. But the story I remember reading went something like this...
    Planned 2-hour dive to a wreck. Wasn't planning penetration. Stuck head in and looked around the corner. Got too far in (wreck penetration mistake) and got lost in silt. Surfaced several hours later then planned, alive. If on OC would have run out of air trapped in the wreck.
    The real story had a lot more details. It was a good thought invoking read. If I get some time I'll search for it.
    My "saves" were similar. Once in a wreck, once in a cave. It's not just the extra time that is the lifesaver, it is the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have time to work things out. Avoiding panic is critical. Reducing stress avoids panic.
    Ken

    Quote Originally Posted by Dsix36  View Original Post
    Just remember that listening to an idiot such as myself may very well get your arse dead.

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    Re: When My Rebreather Saved Me!

    Quote Originally Posted by broncobowsher  View Original Post
    Someone did a nice writeup years ago. Don't remember who, or even what board. But the story I remember reading went something like this...
    Planned 2-hour dive to a wreck. Wasn't planning penetration. Stuck head in and looked around the corner. Got too far in (wreck penetration mistake) and got lost in silt. Surfaced several hours later then planned, alive. If on OC would have run out of air trapped in the wreck.
    The real story had a lot more details. It was a good thought invoking read. If I get some time I'll search for it.
    Wasn't that Dr. Mike?

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