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Dive Training and Risk Factors

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
It can take a long time to get an up-to-date response or contact with relevant users.

Troy S

New Member
Feb 8, 2005
I've read through the past 3 years of DAN accident reports with statistics and individual case reports. Since there seemed to be a lot of discussion in this forum about training agencies correlation to dive accidents, I looked into some things. I think there are more relevant risk factors than which agency is better at training for this reason - the generalization that a given guide has seen more problems/accidents with divers trained by organization X over Y hasn't been assessed by objective studies. The only conclusion you can draw is that if agency X trains B percentage of divers then there will be about B percentage of accidents involving those divers. While the conventional thinking may be right about agency X - it just hasn't been substantiated.
However, I have gathered this from the DAN accident reports - my generalizations from their data - which I feel are more relevant concerns:
Higher accident rates including fatality can be strongly correlated to Heart Disease and Hypertension, obesity, Upper Respiratory Infections, smoking, and general physical condition and ability to handle additional stress or workload. Also, it looks like drug use seems to be a complicating factor in many dive fatalities including alcohol, antihistimines, cold medicines, marijuana, antidepressants, etc. I don't think age is as much a factor as the above - but some of these factors tend to manifest as we age. I don't think those factors were stressed enough as problems in my training material or maybe any - they should be stressed to the level of discouragement in my opinion.
There is a strange distribution curve in dive accident statistics worth noting: Those with little experience or preparation (<1 yr) and those with a lot of experience and training (>10 yrs) are by far in the highest percentages. There is a great article in this or last month's Diver Training magazine that addresses the problem with the 2nd group well: ego, overconfidence, bad judgement, etc.
The first group indicates a greater need for experience/training, and preparation - including physical conditioning and comfort level with attempted dive in my opinion. Those two things would alleviate more panic which seems to put divers at a much greater risk for cascading events resulting in injury or death. If people just understand the importance of mastering every skill at every step and getting plenty of practice, it probably wouldn't matter what training agency they chose - except for the more specific technical differentials of the obvious variety.
Disclaimer: I jumped ahead of DAN's more scientific and painstakingly slow accumulation of data and also went outside my comfort zone with generalizations. But if it helps keep anyone alive or prevent injury, it's worth it.
Troy S
Yeah, I'd like to see these as well. Im doing an essay for school about how our instant gratification culture is affecting sports and hobbies, mainly diving (both SCUBA and freediving).
Sorry for the late reply - I was in Cozumel last week for some fantastic diving. Yesterday morning I was on the beach getting a tan, today I'm watching the snow fall :eek:)
The link for the DAN injury and fatality statistics reports - http://www.diversalertnetwork.org/medical/report/index.asp
unfortunately you have to be a member to access them from that site. I will email a copy of the most recent year to both of you. If anyone else wants it send me an email.
Re: Dive Training and Risk Factors: Safety in general

I enjoyed the discussion of safety here and especially your analysis of the accident statistics. I have been diving for many years and just happen to have been in professional safety for most of my life (but not dive safety, by the way). I think there are some general unanswered questions that certainly could (and should) be answered. First, the accident rate for diving should be calculated each year. The reason given for not doing this in the past is that they don't know how many hours are spent in the water each year. I know it isn't easy to get the number of hours that are spent in the water by divers each year, but it could easily be estimated by the number of dive shops, air fills, or sampling statistics. I think this statistic has been avoided, but I won't speculate here on the reason why. Secondly, I think too often lack of training or experience is given as the proximate cause of scuba accidents. I know it is obvious that training and experience are hudge factors in many accident deaths, but there are often multiple causes of accidents and people not trained properely in accident investigation are too quick to point to training and experience. More thourough investigations might discover some causes previously not uncovered. My third point is more difficult to explain. It revolves around the question "who cares?". At first glance it seems like everyone cares; training agencies, dive shops, divers, OSHA, the Navy, DAN, for example. But look at what it is exactly they do in the area of safety. Where do they spend thier money and get thier money from? What is thier motovation? What are the obsticles to safety in each case (Does the Navy put the mission over safety when push comes to shove? Do dive training facilities avoid rejecting or flunking students because they want the business? Can any evidence that the money spent on OSHA enforcement of rules has reduced dive accidents?) How do these agences differ or overlap in their efforts? I'll get off my soap box now.