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WKPP Safety Diver Procedures

 by Scott Landon

         I.  Pre-dive procedures

        A. Check in with the surface manager to communicate your availability and find out what shift you will be    diving, if at all.

     B.  Assist with bottles and scooters being carried to the water (make sure tank valves are closed and o-rings are in scooters).  Do not carry bottles by tubing/rope while above water.  Carry by tank valve when above water.  Check with scooter owner for nose-down or shroud-down transportation.  This is important.

     C.  Arrange the decompression bottles on the surface according to depth placement (i.e. 20 foot bottles, 70 foot bottles, 120 foot bottles, 190 foot bottles, etc.).  The gas divers will usually take their 190 bottle with them, so do not put these in the water unless specifically asked to do so.

     D.  Check to make sure the bottles are marked correctly at the neck and sides.  If not, take the bottle back to the owner for correction.

     E.  300 safety bottles are kept separate from 300 stage bottles on the surface to help the surface manager during setup

     F.  Setup personal gear immediately if the surface manager has asked you to dive the first shift

     G.  Setup personal gear as soon as possible (after all gear has been taken to the water) if you have been asked to dive a later shift.  You may be needed earlier or on an emergency basis.  Have your gear ready to get in the water quickly.

         II.  Setup dive procedures

     A. Place decompression bottles in the water at the depth marked on the bottle

     B. Clip bottles to the line with a double wrap on the clip

     C. Double check all bottles to assure that they are at the depth marked before leaving the drop point.  This extra check can be made by looking at the mix percentage written on the neck to make sure it is appropriate for the depth.

     D. Make sure that 20 and 120 bottles do not get mixed up. (is there a "1" under an inner tube?).  All oxygen bottles should say "OXYGEN" on them somewhere to prevent this confusion.

     E. Assure that all decompression bottles have been placed in the water

     F. If a gas diver leaves a decompression bottle in the water overnight, its status must be checked before the dive.  A support diver should be asked to check its location and pressure before the gas team starts the dive.

     G. Do not place any bottles in the water which are not marked with a depth under any circumstance

   III.  Safety dive procedures

      Note: Safety divers will be allowed to use DPVs at the surface manager's discretion.  The only acceptable DPVs are the Gavin.  No DV-3X DPVs are allowed at WKPP dive sites.  The DV-100 and Mako are also restricted.  This does not change the standard rule that support divers cannot use a gas diver's DPV without permission.  The surface manager will make all decisions regarding DPV use for support divers.

     A. Meet the dive team at their deepest decompression stop (do not violate your own MOD)

     B. Give and receive an OK signal from each member of the decompressing team

     C. Ask each member of the decompressing team for stage bottles or scooters which need to be removed from the water

     D. Do not breathe from the deco bottles without being given specific permission.  The bottle may be needed for the next day or may be needed later in the day for an emergency.

     E Do not ride the scooters without being given specific permission.  Some may have been fully drained and will suffer permanent battery damage if drained even lower, and some are fully charged ni-cads that will then require full drain and recharge if they have not been used.

     F. Do not remove any stage bottles or scooters from the water without the approval of its owner.  Store them under the ledge and out of sight.

     G. One member of the support team should always stay with the decompressing dive team throughout the decompression stops.  Be aware of signs of hypoxia, oxygen toxicity, or any signs of DCI.

     H. Bring extra decompression bottles into the water if requested by the decompressing dive team.

     I. Assist diver getting out of doubles at 50 foot trough or habitat

     J. Have long hose ready to deploy in case diver has problems removing gear.

         The gas diver may have full double tanks, but not be able to reach a regulator during the process.  Watch the gas divers eyes for any signs of trouble.  Gear removal can be one of the most dangerous points during the dive.

     K. Inflate wings on removed doubles and store near decompressing diver if diver has put on a weighted back plate.  The gas may be used for air breaks.  Doubles do not leave the water unless they are being worn until after the park closes.  We must keep our presence to a minimum.

     L. When divers are in the habitat, clip their doubles to the bottom of habitat in case back gas is needed for air breaks.  Make sure the wings are properly inflated and are not pulling on the eye bolts on the habitat.

     M. Inflate wings on rebreathers and bring to surface with the diver's permission.  The RBs need to come out of the water as soon as possible for inspection by Robert Carmichael or others.

     N. Insure primary light is properly secured on all doubles or rebreathers that have been removed by gas divers

     O. Assist diver getting back into doubles after habitat deco including securing primary light and routing all hoses properly.  Have your long hose ready in case the diver has trouble getting back into doubles.

   IV.  Post dive procedures

     A. Assist in removing stage bottles, decompression bottles and scooters from the water

     B. Monitor the bubbles of the decompressing divers from the surface

     C. Check when the Surface Manager wants you back to dive.  Give yourself time to refill tanks if necessary, eat, check into hotel, etc., but make sure to return to help.  It is better to do shorter shifts morning, afternoon, and evening rather than burn out on one three hour dive in the morning.  Support divers are needed at night.

   V.  Procedure for oxygen toxicity

      A. If the diver is not in a trough or habitat, bring the diver who is experiencing oxygen toxicity to the nearest trough or habitat with his/her head tilted back.  A toxing diver who is already in a trough or habitat will not drown and will just need extremely close supervision.  Since the regulator may no longer be in the mouth of the victim, purge the volume of the trough or habitat with your own backgas.  This should be a much lower oxygen content mixture than the one that brought on the convulsions.  This is necessary as there may be high levels of carbon dioxide present.  Once the diver is able, have the diver resume breathing of the correct decompression mix.  Summon another support diver so that this information can be quickly relayed to the surface, but DO NOT leave the diver.  This diver will require 100% attention and close supervision throughout the rest of decompression.  There must always be a support with face to face contact with this diver until decompression is complete.

 Note:        Many of the gas divers will have extremely large decompression obligations.  Bringing them to the surface during a convulsion could be life threatening if the diver still has a significant decompression.  Unless the diver is at 20 or 10 feet, the first choice is to take the diver to a habitat or trough.  This may require taking the diver deeper which is acceptable.  The convulsing diver will have a very high oxygen content in the bloodstream at the time breathing stops.  This high level will provide enough time to get the diver to the habitat.  If it is impossible to get the diver's head out of the water in a habitat then, and only then, take the diver to the surface.

     B. If there is a need to remove the diver from the water, inflate the afflicted diver's BC to assist in bringing the diver to the surface.  This should only happen if the diver has toxed or drowned.

     C. Break your decompression (if any) to get this diver to the surface

      D.   Immediately request help from other divers to assess the situation

     E.   Attempt to get this diver breathing normally on the surface (use resuscitation if necessary).

     F.   Take the diver back down to depth once normal breathing has resumed and the diver gives you the okay to go back down

     G.  Stay with afflicted diver in a one-on-one support role during all of deco until diver reaches habitat.  Be prepared for a relapse.

  VI.  Procedure for DCS

     A. Perform a quick "5 minute" neurological exam (see attached for this)

     B. Immediately begin administering oxygen to diver using a full face mask is available.  Several divers have these.

     C. Administer fluids in between breaths.  Be sure to not administer caffeine beverages like Coke.  These are diuretics and rob the body of necessary fluids.  Also, Gatorade and related beverages have many sugars, which can spike the blood sugar level to a high level if the diver is in shock.  Try to administer water if possible.

     D. Call DAN (919-684-8111) and the hyperbaric chamber.  The directions and phone numbers for the chamber in Tallahassee are attached.

     E. Arrange for transportation to Chamber

     F. Obtain the diver's depth, bottom time, deco schedule and dive gases for the hyperbaric physician (currently this is Dr. Kepper).  Check with diver's buddies for any unusual dive profiles or problems during the dive.

     G. Remove all gear from the diver except the drysuit.  Time is very important, so only do what is absolutely necessary.  Anything else can be done once the diver is in the chamber.  Freeing the diver from the neck seal will significantly increase comfort and breathing. 

     H. Insure that diver's gear is safely locked in a vehicle.

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