7 months ago

AD 2016 Q2

As we pointed out in the spring 2013 edition of the Alert Diver, even being a dive buddy has potential legal implications. So, to bump this up a notch, what about the diver training organisations themselves? Where do they stand? How do they relate to South African law? Are they all considered the same under our legal system in spite of the differences in organisational structures and training programmes? How does this affect their respective instructors and trainee divers from a legal perspective? These are not exactly simple questions. It is certainly true that the respective training organisations differ in a number of ways. However, this does not imply that there are necessarily differential legal implications for each of them. In fact, under South African law, the legal principles are common in all matters. Therefore, if you suffer a loss and you (or your estate in the case of a fatality) wish to recover damages, the legal principles would be applied commonly; whether you are driving or diving. Although not a frequent occurrence, there have been quite a number of law suits associated with diving injuries and damages in South Africa. This is not surprising, as the occurrence of law suits is really a function of “numbers”. As training increases, so do the chances of injuries and, with it, the chances of legal recourse. So, it remains wise to insure yourself, your equipment or your business in a proper and effective way. But before getting back to the potential differences amongst the training agencies, let’s first explore the foundational legal principles on which any civil claim would be adjudicated: inherent risk, negligence and duty to take care.


DIVE SLATE Cas Dobbin approaches the anchor hanging from the bow of the wreck PLM 27. JILL HEINERTH 16 | SPRING 2016

16 EXPLORING THE HEART OF BELL ISLAND | 20 LIONFISH 23 ELEVATING THE STANDARD OF CARE | 26 DAN MEMBER PROFILE 28 PUBLIC SAFETY ANNOUNCEMENT | 29 TRAVEL SMARTER, EDUCATION SPOTLIGHT EXPLORING THE HEART OF BELL ISLAND By Jill Heinerth My heart skips a beat as I descend into the chocolate-brown water at the entrance to the Bell Island mines in Conception Bay, Newfoundland. A freak winter gale has washed more than 3 feet of brown runoff into the mines during the night. Our floating dock is stuck to the ceiling, and the diver prep area is submerged beneath an inflowing river of melted snow. It’s bone-chillingly cold, the visibility is low, and I am lugging a large camera, lights and strobes to capture images in water that I hope will be clear a few hundred feet into the submerged passages. The Royal Canadian Geographical Society has honored our project as its 2016 Expedition of the Year, recognizing our efforts to reveal the unseen depths of Canadian geography. The Explorers Club has granted Flag #80 to our mission, likewise acknowledging the importance of sharing the secret, submerged assets of Bell Island. Few people know that Bell Island was attacked during World War II. In 1942 German U-boats blitzed the island twice in attempts to disrupt the flow of the highgrade iron ore being extracted from the mines. Raiding U-boats sunk the SS Saganaga, the SS Lord Strathcona, the SS Rose Castle and the Free French vessel PLM 27, and they blew up the loading wharf on Bell Island. In all, 70 men were killed, and the region’s inhabitants were awakened to their precarious position on the front lines of the Battle of the Atlantic. The goals of our project are ambitious. We are establishing a visual archive of the history that was submerged when the first mine closed in 1949 and the last mine closed in 1966. With no inventory of mine assets, we’ll be the first to reveal the cultural history that was abandoned when it became too expensive to continue the extraction of ore. In addition to documenting the mechanical and engineering history of the mine, we will be collecting biological samples from ferrous oxidizing bacterial colonies and hydrogen sulfide pools for DNA analysis. For me the greatest revelations of all will come from physiological examinations conducted by a team of scientists led by DAN® research director Neal Pollock, Ph.D. INNER SPACE After each dive we rush to stow our gear as quickly as possible and move up the 650-foot slope to the public museum area of Mine #2. Pollock and Stefanie Martina have set up a makeshift lab where they are poised to poke, prod and query our bodies and minds. I peel off a sweaty heated drysuit undergarment and lay prone on a mattress while Martina preps a cold ultrasound probe to place onto my ribcage. She gently rotates the device to find her landmark, and a miraculous image appears on the screen. I watch my beating heart, the valves of which look like a downward-swimming mermaid in a black void. Martina doesn’t have to tell me that my mermaid is navigating a field of bubbles on the right side of the heart. My decompression stress is clearly visible as rogue white dots that bounce off the walls and move upward on the screen. The first time I see it I am slightly alarmed. I feel great, but Martina informs me I am showing grade IIIb on the scale of bubbles (0, I, II, IIIa, IIIb, IVa, IVb, IVc and V, with 0 being no visible bubbles and V being a whiteout). I assure her that I am an open book and am ready to publicly share every detail of my results. The questions begin pouring out of me: Have I been bubbling for my last 7,000 dives? Is this happening after most or all of my dives, or is it particular to these cold, physical dives? How closely correlated are these bubbles with decompression sickness (DCS)? Pollock is generous with his educational offerings but careful to explain that these investigations are anecdotal. We’re all guinea pigs in this world of technical diving, trying to apply mathematical probabilities to an infinite set of parameters encompassing bodies, plans and diving history. We can’t conclude which of the myriad factors were most important in leading to my bubbles after so few dives — or even know if the bubbles might cause long-term issues — but we can certainly try to reduce stress in future dives in many ways. ALERTDIVER.COM | 17

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