Scuba Diving in Thailand : Dive accidents in Thailand

May 9, 2011

Thankfully, dive accidents in Thailand are a rare occurrence. Scuba diving in Thailand is extremely safe, especially if you look at how many people scuba dive, and then look at how many accidents there are. In fact, diving is one of the safest sports around, and you’d be more likely to have an accident playing football or baseball. That said, of course from time to time there are dive accidents in Thailand. If you’re planning to do some scuba diving in Thailand there are a few things to think about to ensure that your dive experience here will be accident free, as well as enjoyable and fun. Here we’ll outline a couple of dive accidents that have occurred in Thailand, as well as ways to prevent these accidents from happening.

It’s a fact that most divers who have accidents are experienced divers who are pushing their limits or being careless, indeed, it is usually dive professionals (Dive masters or instructors) who are the ones who end up in the chamber with decompression sickness. This often happens when instructors or dive masters are diving alone, and dive too deep or forget to keep a track or their air or no-decompression limits. It is very rare for a student to suffer a dive related accident as in this situation the divers are closely monitored by their instructors.

Students taking their first dives during their training course are always close to their instructor who is well trained and experienced in spotting problems before they arise, or if they do arise, they are close on hand and quick to neutralize any problem as it happens. All instructors are well versed in spotting a panicked diver well before it gets to a stage where things could become tricky. The instructor will calm the student down while still underwater, and if need be, take the student slowly to the surface. Wide eyes and rapid breathing are a couple of tell tale signs that all is not well with a student underwater. Worst case scenario, a student will occasionally spit out their regulator and even remove their mask underwater and try to bolt for the surface. Instructors are always watching their students and are there to help them. If this situation happens, and sometimes it does, the instructor will replace the students regulator for them and clear it so they can continue to breath, and them will slowly and safely take them to the surface so they can regain their calmness and composure, before either going back to the dive boat, or if conditions allow, and if the student is comfortable continuing the dive.

It is because of rare situations like the one outlined above, where we at Super Divers always ensure that we keep our instructor to student ratio small. Small groups are good for not only safety aspects, but also for diver comfort and customer service. On Koh Tao, if you enroll in an open water course, you could be with up to ten students to one instructor and a couple of assistants. This makes it almost impossible for the instructor to be aware of what each and every student is doing all the time. We like to keep our ratios to no more than one instructor to two students, but if we have a group of students who enroll together and want to dive together, then we’ll increase the ration to no more than four students to one instructor. The conditions around Phuket allow for this as the visibility is usually very good, and currents are lax at student dive sites.

Recently there was a tragic accident involving a dive company in Phuket.  Although we don’t have all the conformed facts, what we’ve been told is that a Japanese diver had an uncontrolled ascent to the surface. We’re told she inflated her BCD at depth, something which all scuba divers know they must never do. We can only assume she did this by accident, and maybe meant to deflate some air from her BCD.  Above her a dive boat was maneuvering with it’s propeller turning. Unfortunately she was struck on the head by the propeller and killed instantly. It was a rare freak accident, and very unfortunate. Blame for this accident has yet to be cast, whether is be with the captain of the dive boat or with the divers dive guide.

We instruct all our staff to make sure they deploy their surface marker buoys whenever they are in shallow water, when they are surfacing after a dive, or whenever they feel there is a risk of something unexpected happening from passing boat traffic. Let me stress, the incident outlined above, is very rare indeed.

Things to consider when choosing a dive operator in Thailand…

When you sign u for any dive trip, you should check the dive operator is affiliated with a respected dive organization like PADI. PADI is the biggest and most far reaching professional dive organization, but there are others, including SSI, CMAS, and BSAC. PADI incidentally stands for “Professional Association of Dive Instructors. All PADI instructors must follow strict standards and guidelines instigated by PADI, and any failure on the instructors part to adhere to these standards could lead to their instructor licenses being suspended or revoked. Super Divers are fully affiliated with PADI and our store number is S-22241.

Ask about insurance. Make sure your instructor or dive operator has adequate insurance which will cover their students in the unlikely event of a dive accident. All Super Divers instructors have insurance, which also covers their students.

Ask about the dive equipment. Is it new? If not, is it well maintained and in excellent working condition. All Super Divers equipment is brand new in 2011, and we maintain our equipment regularly. We also purchase new equipment regularlyAlso, Super Divers only use tried and tested instructors with lots of experience and certified students under their belts. As mentioned before, we also keep instructor to student ratios small for safety reasons as well as customer service reasons.

Dive education is continuous, we offer the full range of PADI courses from Discover Scuba Diving right through to instructor and beyond. Click here for more details.

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