Incident Report

|Incident Report
Incident Report 2020-05-01T16:26:00+00:00

Overconfident with tatty line

Incident Date

1907-02-06

Incident Description

The diver was about 500 m into the sump replacing line and generally tidying up for familiarisation with known passage and preparation for later pushing trips. Previous divers have replaced old lines with new as they silt over or become damaged by floods but the result is chaotic in places. The sump is also not straightforward. All was going well in good visibility and comfortable passage when the replacement line ran out. The diver ever eager to see what lay ahead and over-confident with huge gas margins continued following the old line. There was a very good reason for replacing the existing line and eventually even the bits of tatty string faded away completely. The diver reluctantly turned to see a wall of silt and no proper line. Oh ****. Locating a tatty string the diver followed it only to emerge in clear water – so obviously that was not the way he came in then. He located another bit of string; same result. Faced with the inevitable the diver headed on a reciprocal compass bearing into the silt. There then followed that long long horror that no-one should suffer. Eventually the new line floated into view.

Lessons Learned

Never give up. Stop think as clearly as you can and work out your options; you might only get one easy chance to do it right. This could have occurred in another part of the same sump but with less chance of returning blind. The compass was the best instrument in this case. In another (worryingly similar) case the depth meter proved invaluable. Use of these instruments to get yourself out of a fix means you have to know your bearing and depth at the point where things went wrong which of course isn’t usually clear (unless you know you are planning to do something really stupid which is er a really stupid thing to do) so keep looking at them. The root cause of the incident is glaringly obvious and shouldn’t need labouring. Prevention is better than cure and this diver’s lines are now better placed and marked. In a long and complex sump there is little more comforting than to have confirmation that the line in hand really is the way out.
Factors
Line Management Major
Gas Management Unknown
Equipment Management Unknown
Equipment Failure Unknown
Training Unknown
Medical Unknown
Planning Unknown
Procedural Error Unknown
Cave Environment Unknown
Weather Unknown
Other Factor Unknown