One of the objectives to pass a rescue is to hand in an emergency assistant plan. Now over the years we have received many different styles,from basic list to colorful print outs. This one done by Jenna, I thought was really unique. Jenna wrote a fictitious story in essay form describing emergency steps. I thought it would be nice to share her story. Enjoy Skies were ominous, although time frame for research was limited. My 4 colleagues and I were determined to make a solid discovery furthering research of the frilled shark said to be termed as a “living fossil” in Saruga Bay, Japan. The once thought to be extinct creature was found roaming the oceans recently. Early evidence of the animal claimed it was only found at depths of 50-200 meters of the continental shelf and upper continental slope. Although discovered before at depths of even 1,570 meters, there had been recent evidence of substantial upward movement to at least 30 meters. This change in depth and reasoning for it had fueled the intrigue of scientists on a global scale.
The Tahonga sat rocking at the docks of Saruga. As we boarded at 6:30 am, the sky was overcast. We traveled 30 miles out, about 48 kilometers from shore. The trip took almost 2 hours due to rough conditions. We prepared ourselves for the surf, having been trained and equip for the weather. Torches were mandatory for the mission. While setting up the gear, a light rain took to the sky. The anchor sunk and the mooring line drifted in murky visibility. It was time to descend. The plan was to descend 30 meters into somewhat of a drift dive due to the recent weather.
There was a team of three, and a team of two. Two men; one boat captain, and a certified first responder stayed on deck in case of struggle. Both teams decided upon beginning the mission together and then dividing during the second mission based on our mapping of the location.
Once we descended the water was foggy. Visibility was about 3 meters. It felt like a night dive. The torches turned on and a cloud of white light emanated around us. Brenton, my dive buddy and closest colleague had mentioned before that his flashlight was acting up before the dive, but that he had a spare. We continued the dive and decided halfway as a group to make the split. The group of 3 wanted to circle back to the mooring line due to the lack of current and drift, although Brent and I wanted to venture further, and planned on inflating our signal device once reaching the surface.
Almost instantly at around 28 meters after the split, his light flickered and dimmed. It darkened around him and quickly he began to prod for his second light. During that time things become fuzzy, although from what I can remember there was a force that rocked between us which caused the devastating separation. It was a force that moved swiftly, an object so big and so fast that recognizing a species even from a meter away was damn near impossible.
A second lashing of force swept upon us, and I felt myself roll into a backward spin, dizzying me and creating vertigo as I almost lost contact of which way was up. It was a sudden blast of motion and a swift smack of a fin that created an instant migraine.
While trying to maintain consciousness, my light had fallen from my grasp and wedged itself in a shallow cave. Immediately without consideration of Brent, I kicked towards it knowing that my backup torch could be spared for him once I returned. I snatched the light and trusted my hand forward, turning around and using the beam to locate my colleague. He was nowhere to be found. My heart lumped and pounded in my throat . 27 meters down, anything could happen and at our last signal, Brent was at 1000 psi. This gave me a limited amount of time to recover him and ascent carefully within limits to the surface. I was calling the dive.
During a frantic search of almost a minute which felt like 20, I vaguely caught a yellow reflection of light 3 meters from me while performing the U search pattern. It was Brent’s alternate air source, I knew this to be his. I was relieved that as a team the divers wouldn’t have to call a search to look for him in this storm. As I approached his lifeless body, I noticed a stream of green flowing steadily from a rip in the shoulder of his 5mm wetsuit.
Brent was unconscious. He was bobbing up and down with the current, lifeless on the sand. Carefully I swam towards him. The sudden silence and calm of the water was unsettling. Making a fist I smacked it against my open palm waiting for him to respond. As I inched closer to his body, I waved my hand beneath his mask. Still no response. The lack of bubbles rising from his regulator was alarming and I knew that his life depended the next few moments.
Beneath him dangling was the SPG. I snatched it and read 700 psi. Although still in his mouth, his regulator was barely releasing bubbles, and his breaths were clearly shallow. I then swam above him, straddled his tank with my knees and wrapped my arm beneath his armpit, lifted his chin for a clear airway path and clasped his regulator securely to his lips. I lifted his inflator hose and pressed inflate until I felt him lifting slowly from the sand. As he began to rise I cautiously released air from his BCD allowing us together to ascend carefully. Hell was waiting for us on the surface.
Waves crashed and rain poured in our faces. I could see continuous flashes of light coming from the boat about 20 meters away. I accessed the situation, performing a primary assessment in the water. The waves were too choppy and it was hard determining breath. I listened and felt for breath for about 9 seconds while inflating his BCD with one hand, releasing his weight belt, and then releasing mine. Feeling for a pulse I kept his head stable, above the waves and inflated my BCD. The pulse was undetectable. Luckily I came prepared, and grabbed a pocket mask from my BCD. The pocket mast had multiple benefits. It kept the water from splashing into Brent’s mouth, and it enabled me to give adequate rescue breaths. I placed the mask on his face, thumbs on the mask, fingers on the bony part of his jaw. Two rescue breaths immediately after placing the mask at the surface allowed me to unstrap two hooks of his gear and inflate my surface signaling device. The engine revved and the Tahonga fought winds and pushed towards us. I counted 1, 2, 3, 4…Breath. Again and again. I unhooked and unclasped the BCD until only the velcro stomach strap held Brent to his equipment. The boat floated closer. I unhooked my gear while holding Brent’s neck. I did this in the same timed pattern.. 1, 2, unhook, 3, 4…breath. A continuous effort of breaths caused Brent to gently cough up a bit of water. This was a relief.
Help! Help! I choked to the captain as the impatient glares of the other colleagues waiting on the boat quickly turned to gasps and wide eyes. They shuffled to the stern. Two of the men grabbed Brent’s arms and lifted him onto the deck floor. AED! Get the Oxygen as well! Call for help! Call Dan!
At this point I felt that I was simply yelling orders due to stress, although I believe it is technically referred to as “delegating”. I climbed aboard and assessed Brent, listened for breathing and a pulse. He was laying on his back sheltered by the rain from the roof of the boat. His breathing had completely ceased, and I could not feel a pulse. One, two, three…I pumped his chest until reaching 30, then used pistol grip to angle his chin and open the airway clear for breath. Pinching his nose, I gave a strong breath and watched his chest rise. A second breath and his chest rose again. I continued on 4 attempts of 30 compression’s, 2 breaths. No success. AED! A colleague fetched the AED and opened it. I continued rescue breaths while he used scissors to clip off Brent’s wetsuit. His shoulder was exposed and capillary blood flow lightly drenched the deck. An assumed injury from the coral, or possible contact with the “animal” that trusted against him.
I ordered the crew members for cleaning alcohol, fresh water, pressure and a bandage on the wound. I snatched the adult Pads from the AED and peeled them from the paper. Carefully I dabbed his chest with an available towel to remove the water. The wound was already covered with a fresh bandage from a helping hand.
There was no time to waste . One pad was placed on his upper right chest above his nipple and below his shoulder in a vertical position. The second pad I placed just below the left nipple in a horizontal position. I yelled for everyone to step back and cleared the area. Waiting for the AED to charge I noticed the captain on the phone with paramedics, explaining the situation. He yelled to me, “was there a forced rapid ascent? How deep were you guys? What was your bottom time? Is he hurt? Is the wound taken care of? What happened?!” I answered to the best of my ability, my voice shaky with adrenalin and fear for my friend’s life. AED was ready to administer shock. Once again I made sure the area was clear and that nobody was touching his body. I pressed the button; a volt of electricity shook Brent’s body.
A miracle! His eyes shot open and he coughed water from his lungs. We waited for “all clear” from the AED then quickly peeled the pads from his body after turning it off. Brent was breathing, barely. His eyes closed and out of fear for losing him again, I called for oxygen.
I listened again to his breathing. Slow and shallow coughs warned me of his struggle for air. I chose to use the continuous flow outlet and the nonrebreather mask. I opened the kit, attached the regulator and then attached the tube from the nonrebreather mast to the continuous flow outlet on the regulator. Slowly I turned open the valve and set the continuous flow rate to 15 liters per minute. Holding my thumb over the inlet inside of the mask allowed the reservoir bag to inflate. “Brent, this is oxygen, it might help you, can I give it to you?”
His head tilted up then down, signaling a yes. I instructed him to breath normally, and used the mask strap to keep it tight to his face. Slowly the reservoir bag collapsed and didn’t inflate again. I set the flow rate to 25 liters per minute.
We sat together, and I observed his body slowly return to life. Color flushed his face again and his breathing stabilized. The oxygen mask stayed on Brent’s face for the remaining boat ride. Questions flooded my ears from my colleagues, but all I could think about was the blow and driving charge that sent us both askew. What was it, could it have been the endangered frilled beast we were searching for? Had it almost taken my friends life? These questions unfortunately I could never answer.
Reaching the docks of Saruga Bay paramedics were waiting, prepared to take Brent. The weather had cleared and by this time it was late in the afternoon. Lifting him carefully onto a stretcher, the paramedics took over and hustled Brent to the ambulance. He was stable; he was safe for now.
A man sat with me and we discussed the event. I provided Brent’s contact information, his medical history, first AID procedures of bandaging the wound, and our dive profile. I mentioned the boat captain speaking with a doctor over the phone while I was giving air, his name and his advice.
That day our lives flashed before us, luckily we were trained and prepared. I still wonder to this day what it was that almost took our lives. The ocean was capricious and so unforgiving; much respect