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.
RESEARCH, EDUCATION & MEDICINE ADVANCED DIVING at any time. At one point during the show each artist handler has to support six synchronized swimmers while preparing to establish a platform for other artists. The artist handlers hand off two regulators from their rigs and carry small pony bottles with four more regulators for the artists to use. Following the preshow briefing, divers conduct a series of in-water checks. The opening act is known as “Pied Deux,” which translates to two feet. The lifts are positioned 15 feet underwater, and a large red floating curtain lies on the surface. The aquatics team spreads out and places a matrix of 15 regulators, which are connected to a hookah system. Artists enter the water approximately three minutes before the show begins. As they swim to the center of the pool they receive regulators from the divers and are hidden from the audience until the show starts and the curtain opens. Once the artists are in position, the divecomms hit the cue lights to indicate that everyone is in position and the show can begin. When the show starts, the lighting in the pool fades to black. Relying on ambient light, the divers watch the artists as they invert to begin Pied Deux and then drop the regulators from their mouths. When all the regulators are clear, the divers strike the hookah lines from the stage and stow them for their next use. This kind of sequence plays out many times. Each artist handler is responsible for his or her own “cue track,” a predetermined sequence of actions that take place during the show. Each cue track proceeds independently of the other cue tracks but is completely reliant upon the execution of the others. The aquatics department is responsible for six in-water cue tracks. Built into each cue track is a series of “catches,” which are some of the most difficult elements of a cue track. During a catch, an artist enters the water from above, usually from an elevated platform. The crow’s nest watches and calls out the action over the underwater speakers. When the artist enters the water he holds his hands out and waits for the handler to give him a regulator. The artist then places the regulator in his mouth, purges it and swims with the diver to the next position or exit. At this point in the performance the diver and artist exhibit significant mutual trust. This trust is cultivated from the time a new artist or artist handler joins the show. Cirque du Soleil artists are world-class athletes; some are Olympians with gold medals. They regularly perform feats such as a six-minute trapeze routine followed by a drop from 40 feet in the air into a pool where they await a regulator so they can take their next breath. The divers must be dynamic in the way they The aquatics team, artists and technicians are a close-knit group; together they put on 475 shows in 2015. work underwater, responding quickly to unforeseen situations with artists. O is a melting pot of talents, backgrounds and cultures, which brings challenges as well as rewards. Currently 20 countries are represented in the show, and the many native languages — not to mention regional scuba jargon and hand signals — often present communication challenges. Translators assist as needed to ensure information is clear and understood. The O cast and crew are proud of their heritage and nationalities. A few times a year the entire team gathers for an international food day during which they bring a dish from their home countries. There is also a green room in which the artists and technicians gather for holiday parties, potlucks and sporting events. American football games are always popular, but international sporting competitions such as the FIFA World Cup or the Olympics bring particular excitement to the green room as everyone roots for his or her home country. Due to the nature of show business, O team members often work on holidays and always perform on Saturdays and Sundays. The full schedule — there were 475 shows in 2015 — means cast and crew members must often miss birthdays, anniversaries and holidays with family. The O cast has become a second family for many team members, who celebrate holidays, births and marriages together. As spectators exit the theatre, they leave with a vision that allows them to create their own story of O based on how it affected them. Ask cast members why they like working at O, and they often will say it is because of the people. While the aquatics team is just a small part of the show’s success, its role is vital for creating the spectacle that is O. AD ALL PHOTOS COURTESY CIRQUE DU SOLEIL 46 | SPRING 2016
Smarter Diving Begins Before Your Dive. Dive Smarter With DAN’s Online Resources. Before getting into the water, smart divers learn how to identify and effectively manage the risks of diving. With DAN’s Online Case Summaries, divers can read about real diving incidents with expert commentary on how to prevent similar scenarios. With topics ranging from out-of-air emergencies to hazardous marine life encounters, every diver can enhance their dive safety knowledge. To prepare smarter for your next dive or to report a diving incident, explore DAN.org/DIVING-INCIDENTS. DAN.org/DIVING-INCIDENTS
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