I recently returned home after a 4-day trip. I was exhausted and dealing with a stomach bug that came home for the weekend and pretty much had me out of commission. What time I did not spend sleeping or…well…other things…I spent catching up on dive forum reading. That particular weekend there was a lot of talk about buddies, emergencies and handling of incidents. Fast forward to Monday morning and I discover as I am dressing that I missed regular laundry day and have no clean underwear in stock. This is a problem. How did I handle this crisis? I pulled out the drawer a little further. From a back corner behind the socks I retrieved the emergency underwear. Understanding that my schedule can sometimes go sideways and laundry might not get done, I made plans for a potential shortage ahead of time and was able to solve it myself. Without external assistance. It got me thinking about diving.
As divers, we should have a similar mentality. All diving, but especially recreational diving, is founded in the buddy system. I think that’s wonderful. To be clear, I trust Cameron with my life with no reservation. However, I consider it my responsibility as a diver to be aware of potential issues impacting my safety, consider how I would handle them, and communicate them to my buddy. Some require the assistance of my buddy. Some I can handle myself. Some circumstances may necessitate a change in equipment to improve safety or reliability in the event of an incident. The point is to be aware. It is all too easy to say “my buddy will take care of me” and become complacent. It is all too easy to trust the guide/divemaster/instructor/buddy and be ill-informed and ill-prepared for a dive. We each bear ultimate responsibility for ourselves, our gear and our well-being.
Conversely, as a buddy, I bear some responsibility to keep an eye on my buddy and be available to assist in an emergency. I consider situational awareness to be critical on any dive, especially since when diving our senses are severely limited.
I am fortunate to have a regular dive buddy that I know quite well and trust completely. We often practice air sharing and other drills just to be prepared and comfortable with the process. Even without a regular buddy, we can all be more aware of our surroundings, our skill level, the potential problems that may arise on a dive and how we might handle those problems. As divers, we must not grow complacent, allow our skills to rust, or become comfortable in the belief that “our buddy will always save us”. Safe diving is aware diving. Safe diving is prepared diving. Safe diving is fun diving.