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.
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,