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The Very First Rule

One of the very many things I love about living and working here is that I’m surrounded by so many dedicated, talented, and passionate dive professionals.


What’s more, there is cooperation. Of course I’m not saying that everyone are best friends, or that there aren’t some disagreements. But overall it is a cooperation which sometimes comes in the form of debate.


We talk to one another. Openly. Frequently. There are several different ongoing and very active chats among the community about everything from site conditions to lost equipment to calls for assistance.


In one such chat yesterday there was a long and lively discussion of best practices and whether to consider modifying local SOPs.


At one point local rockstar Vincent Rouquette-cathala said something that resonated with me very deeply. Something that I could not possibly agree with more (a sentiment echoed by several in the group) and which made me proud to be a part of a community with so many shared goals and values.


Which, with his permission, I repost here. Because it should be read by both anyone wishing to teach or to learn cave diving.


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“The very first rule of accident analysis is proper training and experience for the environment. As a community we'd rather ban 8 or 9 days full cave courses starting from zero. multi-stage courses right after a cave certification, DPV under a certain amount of dives after certification and such, what example do we show finishing a full cave course with ultra complicated circuits and traverse? In the end our responsibility is to slow people down, make them gain experience to be relatively safe at the level they are diving, understanding the challenges of specific environments and what it takes to really build experience and skills up (plastic card over a quick course does not) and not look to sell them the next course as fast as possible. We should all aim at making divers who DO NOT need a guide, and it takes a long slow process, the very opposite of being, looking, or feeling like heroes. How many people properly teach dive planning, map reading and back referencing, how many still teach team markers (super old school in my opinion), how many instructors show barely certified students major restrictions and how to remove tanks? These are other contributing factors in progressing too far too fast (2 recent fatalities were people exploring with stages and DPVs, solo, with less than 500 dives under their belt, lack of experience at this level, is very similar to improper training).”


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