It was a sunny day at South Florida’s Blue Heron Bridge. Two years had passed since I last dived this location, and I was anticipating a simple excursion to look at the local fish. The dive plan was to make a shore entry and allow the current to take me west down the beach.
Area di seberang terumbu buatan dan jembatan besar di Phil Foster Park sangat ramai, dengan banyak penyelam di pantai yang menunggu untuk masuk pada saat air surut. Saya bergerak ke arah seberang, yang nyaris kosong kecuali tiga penyelam di perairan dangkal yang bersiap menyelam.
While conducting my predive safety checks, I analyzed the site conditions and recognized that the current was deceptive. It did not appear fast in the immediate vicinity, but it was moving strongly under the bridge’s smaller section. As I continued to gear up, the three divers seemed to be having equipment issues. A second-stage regulator was free-flowing, and the group struggled to manage it. I stood patiently on the shore, giving them the courtesy and space to start their dive without feeling crowded or rushed.
After they floated out about 30 feet (9 meters), the diver with the flag rapidly submerged and left his buddies. The two divers remaining on the surface struggled to empty their buoyancy compensators and attempted to fight the positive buoyancy by kicking down. They couldn’t submerge and flailed against the current without utilizing their snorkels or second stages. They were now 30 feet (9 meters) beyond where their buddy had descended and were clearly not going to descend themselves, as they were visibly struggling and in the beginning stages of distress that would soon lead to panic.
Saya merasa cukup yakin mereka tidak menderita barotrauma karena tidak ada penyelam yang turun, jadi saya pikir mereka mungkin mengalami kram atau BCD yang tidak berfungsi. Salah satu penyelam adalah seorang pria yang lebih tua, jadi saya khawatir dia akan melakukan tendangan berat yang diperlukan untuk mengatasi arus. Saya masuk ke dalam air dengan dua pilihan dalam pikiran: lebih baik membawa mereka kembali ke titik masuk dengan selamat atau memilih jalan keluar alternatif jika saya tidak bisa melawan arus saat melakukan derek permukaan.
I entered the waist-high water in full kit and called to the nearest diver, who was nearly 60 feet (18 meters) away. He and his buddy were about 45 feet (14 meters) apart and not communicating with each other as they focused on themselves. I asked if they needed any help. The closest diver looked at me, didn’t respond, and continued to kick.
I kicked with the current and quickly got to him. Remaining outside the reach of his flailing arms, I asked if he was OK. He stared back through his mask with wide eyes and didn’t verbally respond. I grabbed his second stage and held it to his face. He started breathing heavily from the regulator. I asked him to turn on his back and said I would help him back to shore. He immediately turned over.
Ketika saya bersiap untuk memulai penarikan tank, saya melihat penyelam kedua masih berjuang lebih jauh. Saya berteriak bahwa saya akan kembali untuk membantunya dan menyuruhnya memegang penyangga jembatan tengah, yang dibawa arus ke arahnya. Dia menjawab secara lisan bahwa dia akan mencobanya.
Saat saya menarik penyelam pertama kembali ke perairan dangkal melawan arus, saya menyuruhnya untuk tenang dan membantu saya menendang. Saya membawanya ke air setinggi pinggang, menyuruhnya berdiri, dan menyuruhnya menunggu di sana sementara saya mengambil temannya.
The second diver was holding himself in place on the bridge. When I arrived, he assumed the tank-tow position but told me he couldn’t assist with kicking due to exhaustion and cramping. We made some headway against the strong current at the bridge by moving sideways toward the shore, where the current was slightly slower.
Saya sempat tersengal-sengal namun berhasil membawa penyelam kedua ke tempat penyelam pertama berdiri di perairan dangkal. Kami mengobrol sebentar sementara mereka mengatur napas, dan saya bertanya tentang teman ketiga yang tidak kunjung datang mencari mereka. Ketidakpedulian mereka terhadap kelambanannya menunjukkan bahwa mereka tidak khawatir akan terpisah dan belum merencanakan apa yang harus dilakukan. Rencana penyelaman mereka adalah mengikuti teman mereka yang membawa bendera selam.
Saya menawarkan diri untuk berbagi bendera selam dan menyelam ke pantai bersama mereka untuk mencari teman menyelam mereka. Setelah saya membantu mereka membuang gas sepenuhnya di BCD mereka, kami menyelam dan menemukan teman menyelam mereka di terumbu buatan pertama.
Mengetahui cara melakukan tank tow adalah keterampilan penyelamatan yang penting, tetapi penyelamatan tidak perlu dilakukan jika penyelam hanya mengikuti tiga prinsip dasar keselamatan penyelaman.
Pelajari Tentang Situs
The divers were unaware of the site conditions, including the possibility of encountering a current. This dive site’s surface conditions are manageable if you avoid a few trouble spots. Doing a site survey and asking at a local dive shop helps identify those areas. The divers strayed too far down the beach and were unaware of the current shifting and concentrating at the small bridge. The descent would have been difficult, but they wouldn’t have gotten swept under the bridge. Once they had floated past the point where the current splits, it was exponentially harder to control the situation.
Ketahui Keterbatasan Anda
The first diver had not dived in 20 years and was thankful for the tank tow. It had been four years for the second diver, and while he was also appreciative, he was sure they would have been fine — despite his cramping, fatigue, and inability to assist with the tank tow. I assisted them because I dive frequently, know the site conditions, and have done extensive flow, cave, and river diving. I was aware of my limitations but confident that I could help because of performing similar rescues in the past. A shallow test dive in a controlled environment after some time off is essential for avoiding injury due to skill degradation or gear malfunction.
Miliki Rencana Menyelam yang Lengkap
The supposed simplicity of their dive plan gave these divers a false sense of security. A dive plan should have contingencies in place for when things go wrong. The two divers did not know how to react to the current pulling them away because they weren’t aware of the possibility, and they didn’t have a rescue plan or any idea what to do in an adverse situation.
Although divers should always keep their rescue skills fresh, a thorough understanding of the dive site, your and your buddy’s skills and equipment, and a mutually agreed-upon dive plan can help prevent the need for anyone to use them.
© Penyelam Siaga - Q1 2023