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Volunteer fire fighter / rescue diver dies in training incident at a quarry - Pennsylvania.

Koedam-RE; Tarley-J
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE F2005-29, 2006 Jul; :1-7
On August 28, 2005, a 50-year-old male volunteer fire fighter/rescue diver (the victim) died after nearly drowning during a fire department sponsored night-dive training exercise at a quarry the night before. The victim had performed a total of three training dives the day of the incident (August 27, 2005) as part of the requirements for Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) certifications for advanced open water diver and night diver. After the students completed the exercises for the "night dive," they were instructed to complete the training dive with a "partner dive." During the partner dive, the victim's partner reportedly signaled to him that he wanted to surface, and the victim signaled back "OK, let's surface." After the partner surfaced, he looked around and did not see the victim. The partner reportedly looked down and saw the victim still below him waving his light from side to side in a distress motion. The partner dove back down and found that the victim did not have his regulator in his mouth. The partner tried to donate his alternate air source, but at that point the victim's underwater flashlight dropped and he went limp. The partner brought him to the surface and yelled for help. At this time the master scuba diver instructing the course (Instructor #1) and his partner were below the surface on the partner dive in another part of the quarry. Another dive instructor (Instructor #2) and a diver on shore unrelated to this training heard the calls for help and immediately went to provide assistance. The victim was towed to shore and provided cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Emergency 911 was called and arrived within 15 minutes. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he died the following day. NIOSH investigators concluded that, to minimize the risk of similar occurrences, fire/rescue departments should: 1. develop, implement, and enforce standard operating procedures (SOPs) or protocols regarding diver training; 2. ensure that each diver maintains continuous visual, verbal, or physical contact with his or her dive partner; 3. ensure that a backup diver and ninety-percent-ready diver are in position to render assistance; and, 4. ensure that positive communication is established among all divers and those personnel who remain on the surface.
Region-3; Accident-analysis; Accidents; Accident-prevention; Injury-prevention; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Fire-fighters; Emergency-responders; Safety-practices; Divers; Diving; Training; Surveillance
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division