Before I leave the whole issue of diver safety and specifically fatalities associated with closed-circuit rebreathers, I’d like to pose a question to you.
I promise to move on to something less somber after this, but please send me your thoughts via comments below or in an email.
Anyway, here’s the scoop.
When it comes to policing who gets to dive a rebreather, every CCR manufacturer seems to use similar tactics. In short, they will not sell a functional CCR unit to John Doe Diver without verification that he has successfully completed a certification program on the unit sometime recently.
If John Diver has purchased the CCR so that he can participate in a course and earn that certification, most manufacturers will either ship his unit directly to the instructor who will be running the course, or will ship the machine to John Diver but missing a vital part (like the scrubber head) rendering it non-functional. The missing part will be sent to the instructor.
This has been common practice for years, and to an extent, prevents untrained, uncertified divers taking their brand-new toy for a potentially disastrous trial run.
So the question is this: What happens if John Diver completes his CCR course and fails?
What if John is so incompetent, so out of sync with the whole concept of CCR diving, that his instructor has to wash him out of the program? In other words, John does not just need a little more coaching; he is so bad in the water on a CCR that it looks likely he may NEVER get it.
The equation is: John plus CCR equals accident.
What does the instructor do with the CCR? Send it back to the manufacturer on behalf of John asking for a refund or does she hold on to it until John tightens up his act and earns a pass sometime in the distant future?
What happens if John signs on with another instructor who teaches to less stringent standards? The original instructor HAS to release the machine at some point doesn’t she? After all, John Diver paid for it. But she believes that the second instructor may turn a blind-eye to John’s poor skills.
Put yourself in John’s place, and his instructor; let me know what you think!