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 EXPERT OPINIONS Physical Fitness for Diving By Neal W. Pollock, Ph.D. The physical fitness requirements for diving depend on a number of factors. While this makes establishing a single standard challenging, it can also lead to interesting discussion. At the most basic level, divers need to be able to easily meet the normal demands of diving with a fitness reserve sufficient to meet the additional demands of emergency situations. Environmental conditions dramatically influence “normal demands.” Calm, warm tropical waters are generally much less taxing than colder water. The demands increase as equipment, sea state, and entry and exit conditions intensify. Diver skill also plays an important role in determining the demands of a dive. A diver with excellent buoyancy control wearing minimum ballast weight will work far less than a diver fighting improper weighting or having less refined buoyancy control. Similar issues exist in establishing reasonable physical fitness buffers to handle emergency demands. Open-Water Testing Scenario* Environmental conditions, 219-yard (200 m) surface swim in equipment worn, proximity full gear to a safe exit, available 109-yard (100 m) rescue tow (both in surface support and even full gear) the buddy’s physical fitness, Beach/dock/boat removal of victim size and skill have influence. While the highest level of physical fitness is desired, Basic life-support simulation a practical approach 35 (male) / 25 (female) military-style is to consider minimal push-ups competencies. HOW TO EVALUATE PHYSICAL FITNESS A review of health history may be sufficient for healthy, active individuals. Functional fitness tests help ensure that a person is fit for diving. These can often be conducted in a pool or in open water. Lab-based tests of physical capacity may be appropriate in the case of a poor history of physical activity, concerns about safety during performance tests, or the presence of potential medical issues. FUNCTIONAL FITNESS TESTING Functional fitness testing has natural relevance to real-world activity. One simple series was proposed to evaluate recreational divers. 1 Divers would demonstrate the following capabilities: 1) lift and carry individual items of diving equipment on land; 2) stand from sitting and walk 100 feet in standard scuba equipment; 3) ascend a 5-foot vertical ladder from the water wearing standard scuba equipment; and 4) swim underwater at 0.5 knot for 30 minutes and at 1.2 knots for 3 minutes wearing standard scuba gear. Another approach was proposed for scientific divers, focusing on rescue capabilities. 2 Evaluations followed a normal dive to start with typical fatigue levels. Since open-water environments are not available year-round in all places, a pool modification was also provided. The details can be seen in Table 1. Table 1. Proposed physical fitness test for scientific divers to be completed in continuous sequence * immediately following a working dive ** immediately following underwater skill drills Pool Modifications** 328-yard (300 m) surface swim (full gear, no suit) 220-yard (200 m) rescue tow (full gear, no suit) Poolside removal of victim with both victim and rescuer wearing 15-pound (7 kg) weight belts Same Same CORKY WAGNER 48 | SPRING 2016
TRANSLATING FUNCTIONAL FITNESS TEST RESULTS Aerobic capacity (VO 2 max ) is defined as the maximum amount of oxygen that can be consumed per unit of time. This is classically determined with a continuous, progressive exercise test to exhaustion. While too involved for general use, VO 2 max is a standard for referencing overall fitness. The complicated units of milliliters of oxygen consumed per kilogram body mass per minute (mL/[kg·min -1 ]) can be simplified by converting VO 2 max values into metabolic equivalents (METs). MET max is determined by indexing VO 2 max to resting oxygen consumption (assumed to be 3.5 mL·kg -1·min -1 , or 1 MET). The higher the MET score, the higher the aerobic fitness. An example of the conversion follows: MET capacity (MET max ) = VO 2 max (in mL·kg -1·min -1 ) ÷ 3.5 e.g., 49 mL·kg -1·min -1 (VO 2 max ) ÷ 3.5 = 14 METs GETTING FIT FOR DIVING The key to being physically fit to dive is to find a way to stay active. The goal is to build or maintain reserves to delay the point at which activity patterns have to decline. Optimally, divers will be significantly physically active daily and bolster this with 30-60 minutes of trainingquality activity three to four times per week. A mix of activities is generally best to reduce the risk of injury and boredom. (For suggested exercises, read our Dive Fitness articles in each issue or online at AlertDiver.com.) Physical training should target three key elements: strength, aerobic capacity and flexibility. Low-impact activities reduce the risk of injury, and activities that involve water provide the added benefit of improving comfort in the diving medium. FIELD MEASURES OF PHYSICAL FITNESS We conduct field evaluations of diver physical fitness as part of many of our research studies. We record a variety of measures to provide a snapshot for participants, often motivating them to improve their numbers. BODY MASS INDEX (BMI) Body mass index (BMI) is not a measure of body composition; it is simply a ratio of weight to height (weight in kilograms divided by squared height in meters). Despite this, BMI is used to predict body composition since it is more common for an increase to reflect an accumulation of fat than lean tissue. While convenient, BMI can provide a poor estimate on an individual basis, requiring common sense for interpretation. With this caution in mind, those with BMI values outside the desirable range should have their body composition evaluated further. If a high BMI is the result of excess fat, lifestyle changes that incorporate additional exercise and dietary changes are recommended. Table 2. BMI measurement classifications NEAL POLLOCK A diver with good buoyancy control should work little during a typical dive. A skilled diver swimming at no more than 0.5 knot could be working at around 3 METs. A diver maintaining a pace of 1.2 knots could be working in the 10-12 MET range. We inferred workrate from open-circuit gas consumption during 959 recreational dives and conservatively estimated a mean workrate of 5 METs. 3 Classification BMI (kg·m -2 ) Underweight
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