Safety is boring...Sep 04, 2022
I was talking to a friend the other day about a liveaboard she’d been on in a high current area. She’s an instructor and a tech diver, and I would consider her to be a fairly strong and capable diver. She was telling me about the currents they’d encountered and wow, they sounded intense. She mentioned that a couple of the dives were outside of her comfort zone, do-able, but not easy.
Then she told me about their guide.
A self-professed “hardcore diver” whose attitude came across as “I’m the big man because I dive in these conditions”. The guide admitted that a month previously he’d even lost two customers when they’d been swept away in a down current from 9m to 50m! They were gone for ten minutes before they managed to get back up. Lucky for them, they had twinsets on, so had enough gas. The guide’s response? “Whatever will be, will be”.
Despite that experience, and despite the fact that at times they were having to swim UP with fully inflated BCDs to ascend against the current my friend still had to remind him that if someone signals 50 bar, you start the safety stop. You don’t carry on kicking into the current or descend further, especially if you’ve got one customer having to hold their buddy to help them swim up, as their buddy is so tired!
From our conversation, I figured my friend probably wasn’t the guide's favourite customer. But what about the others on the boat? What did they think?
According to my friend, she was the boring one on the boat, and happy to be. The other customers seemed to think she was boring too. Luckily, she’s fairly self-assured and just smiled at them. “At least this way, I’ll get more diving done.” she told them. “I know people who’ve died diving, and I don’t want to”. Funnily enough, they didn’t have a comment about that.
So why is safety so boring? Is it because it stops us from doing things that appear to be fun? Is it because it slows us down, makes us maybe wear uncomfortable protective equipment or takes time away from when we could be doing more interesting things? Well….yes. All of the above.
Safety IS boring. I see people’s eyes start to glaze over when I start any kind of safety briefing or when I have to explain why we can’t do that thing that looks fun to do because it’s not safe. Fun police, right? But here’s the deal. If you’re safe, you get to do that thing more.
My favourite dive buddies are the safe ones because I know I don’t have to worry about them doing something stupid. I’m never going to have to be the one to call their family and tell them that the worst has happened and their loved one won’t be coming back. I also don’t ever want to be the one to have to stand up in court and explain why I did something that was unsafe and put someone in danger “because it was fun”. And most importantly, I want to keep doing what I love doing. For me, that’s diving. So sure, sometimes I might choose to skip out on a dive because my equipment isn’t perfect. And would probably be ok. Almost certainly, in fact. But you know what? I’m happy to miss the odd dive if it means I’m guaranteed to get on the next one. Boring maybe. But I have much more fun this way.
Linked blogs within The Human Diver regarding this topic of 'boring'
Safety is nothingness - https://www.thehumandiver.com/blog/safety-is-nothingness
Jenny is a full-time technical diving instructor. Prior to diving, she worked in outdoor education for 10 years teaching rock climbing, white water kayaking and canoeing, sailing, skiing, caving and cycling, among other sports. Her interest in team development started with outdoor education, using it as a tool to help people learn more about communication, planning and teamwork.
Since 2009 she has lived in Dahab, Egypt teaching SCUBA diving. She is now a technical instructor trainer for TDI, advanced trimix instructor, advanced mixed gas CCR diver and helitrox CCR instructor.
Jenny has supported a number of deep dives as part of H2O divers dive team and works as a safety diver in the stunt industry.
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