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Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 10:55:49 -0400
From: "Greg Mactye" Gmactye@hcrhs.k12.nj.us
Subject: Re: Buddy breathing

Interesting how his message starts with - "In the beginning..." !

brian@teamlgs.com

Someone asked us recently about buddy breathing, and why it should not be used anymore, as they had someone burst an eardrum on a blackwater buddy breathing ascent during training.

Butch wrote a little bit about the history of it and why he feels it should not be used.

Here it is:

In the beginning there was a 2 hose single stage regulator. When the mouthpiece was higher than the diaphragm (1st stage) it free-flowed. Divers realized they had to learn how to help each other since there were no gauges on tanks and no real understanding of time versus depth. Air consumption rates were way in the future. Divers attempted to learn how to buddy breathe via the original two hose regulator.

The difficulty was that often the regulator had to be bled before you could breathe on it, which meant letting the air out. US Divers came along with a single hose 2 stage regulator that reduced a lot of the regulator difficulties. Air consumption rates were starting to be understood. Time versus depth was state-of-the-art now. Buddy breathing was a much easier task based on the new equipment.

However, at its best, buddy breathing was considered extremely task-loading, required an enormous amount of practice, and some believe that a free ascent Nonetheless, buddy breathing was taught in every class throughout the world. In the early days of instructor training courses, instructors had to demonstrate an incredible amount of skill with the buddy breathing system and were more often than not forced to do so under stress situations. Task loading was still a major concern especially since the only need to use this skill would normally be during a real emergency.

In the late 1960s Walt Hendrick Sr. and Dave Woodward employed the concept of a additional 2nd stage, hence the octopus was born. It was designed to be on a slightly longer hose (6-8") so it would be easier to use. It reduced the need for either diver to remove and replace a mouthpiece.Its creation was just barely behind actually functional submersible pressure gauges. In the early to mid 1970s, there were 2 campaigns being created spearheaded by myself.

1 - Every diver should have an octopus as well as a buoyancy compensator.

2 - Buddy breathing being extremely task-loading and dangerous at best, needed to be replaced by proper octopus use in training classes.

By the mid 1980s every agency agreed that buddy breathing was no longer a required skill, but rather proper use and emergency procedures of the octopus. During an emergency situation, buddy breathing was considered to be a task-load of 8, with 10 being the highest task-load an individual could have. While octopus breathing is a task-load equivalent of 4, which Basically means it is 50% easier to teach, 50% easier to learn, and 50% safer.

It was discovered in a short period of time that its success rate was greater than 50%.

Todays sport diving instructors should be training octopus use 100% and following the most modern industry standards where if buddy breathing would be taught, it would be taught only as a task-loading skill at the divemaster and instructor level.

Modern equipment makes it so that octopus breathing is extremely safe as long as air supplies are monitored and direct continuous ascents are employed immediately upon any rescue.

In the late 1970s to mid 1980s Walt Hendrick Jr. also spearheaded a campaign for independent-capable diving with a pony bottle. Public safety divers should be using a true alternate air source (i.e. the pony bottle) so that it is not dependent on one system, does not tie two divers together who may not be able to make a direct continuous ascent to the surface, and is usable for both divers, and is self-rescue capable

. Divers need to be safe and with their capabilities, and buddy breathing is neither, even when redundantly practiced.

All of the training efforts should be based on self-rescue and then interactive rescue. Buddy breathing does not meet todays minimum standards for the diving industry, does not make for a safe diver-diver interaction, does not allow for one diver to freely move around another in order to be able to cut him free from an entanglement difficulty, does not allow for divers to make safe continious ascents to the surface in blackwater due to the inability to understand their speed in blackwater.

In order to burst an eardrum, it had to be a descend difficulty. While buddy breathing at some point they did not rise, rather descended. An ear perforation would occur in this situation due to an unaware descent because of the high task-loading and low visibility. This was a notorious problem 30-40 years ago, which is why we got rid of it.

Safe diving always,

Walt "Butch" Hendrick Jr

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