Eurotek 2012 – A Fantastic Event, and not just because I was presenting!

This was the 3rd such technical diving conference to be held in the UK and was organised by Leigh Bishop, Roz Lunn and Mark Dixon; unfortunately Crispin Brake who joined the team last year died after he failed to surface from a dive in Jul off the north of Ireland.

The idea is that leading lights in the world of technical diving (divers, researchers, videographers, photographers, explorers) can come together to talk about their exploits. Each year manufacturers show their innovations for the masses. After the last 2 shows the main criticism was that there are too many good presenters and too many good presentations and so the delegates can’t see them all. This year was no different with 4 halls and 7 slots per day with no presentation repeated.

Last year I was on photographer duty so I only saw a third of each presentation, this year I wasn’t! In addition to having more time to see presentation, I was presenting on the Saturday morning at the same time as Michael Menduno, winner of the Eurotek 2012 lifetime achievement award and father of the term ‘technical diving’. Even though I was against this heavy weight I had around 50 delegates attend including Dr Simon Mitchell, Petar Denoble (DAN Research Director), Mary Tetley (Chief Executive of BSAC) and Mark Powell (well known TDI instructor and member of the TDI Global Advisory panel). Unfortunately Dr Andrew Fock (author of CCR fatality study ‘Killing me softly’) didn’t make it in time and so wasn’t allowed in!

‘A lesson is not learned until we make a positive decision to ‘discount’ the problem, or we do something about it’.

Diving Incident and Safety Management System (DISMS)

My presentation centred on the fact the we are missing the data to understand the risks we are taking when going diving. Furthermore, we are not producing a useful output when it comes to the incident reports available to the wider diving community.

Taking the first point, without a Just Culture, divers will not report to a reporting system and so the figures will not be known. I believe that we are capturing less than 10% of the incidents that are occurring and this is borne about by some of the research I have conducted over the last 4 months. My presentation gave reasons for this.

The second point is the one I am trying to focus on and that is improving the ‘lessons learned’ capability of reporting systems. The presentation went on to give a demonstration of the online Diving Incident and Safety Management System (DISMS – showing how reports were entered and how they could be retrieved ( There was some very positive feedback afterwards and I am grateful for this as I am developing something which may highlight that the organisations may not be doing all they can to promote the real risks or mitigate them. DISMS provides an agency independent confidential but open reporting system in which the user defines their own level of confidentiality/public disclosure; an independent system should get away from any biases which may exist with the current BSAC incident reporting system.

Training agencies, as they are the ones at the ‘top of the food chain’ in diver education, should do more to introduce risks, incidents and incident reporting much earlier in the training programmes and not wait until either rescue or technical training

The following is a quick summary of notable presentation for me.

Rebreather Forum 3 Back-brief

I was asked to sit on the panel of those who attended RF3.0 in Orlando to provide answers to any questions which might be safety/human factors orientated; I was very proud to have been asked up there to represent this area. Dr Simon Mitchell went through the consensus positions at the end of the RF3.0 conference and asked if there were any questions. Checklists featured in the discussions but rather than whether they were a good idea, they focussed on how they were implemented. It appears that those who electronic checklists are frustrated that their CCR might not be reliable enough to pass a check which means the diver can’t get in the water. I find this amusing because the system is trying to stop an unsafe situation from developing and there might be a real problem. False errors are introducing lack in confidence in the system which means users might be jumping in with real faults but don’t trust the unit to detect them and dismiss them as a consequence. Discussion also covered the recognition that recreational rebreathers are a different ‘beast‘ and that mitigations and training put in place for tech rebreathers may not be applicable to recreational rebreathers meaning that training could be reduced. This discussion was a little polarised!

Richard Lundgren – Mars the Magnificent

Richard won the Diver of the Conference award for all the work he has been doing in researching wrecks and exploring them in the Baltic. He gave an amazing presentation on the Mars wreck and showed how diving for a purpose can have a real impact. Having the King of Sweden drop in for a day out on your research vessel to the wreck site doesn’t happen every day! Richard showed how planning is essential when developing a media programme to show the wider non-diving community what is 70m under the Baltic Sea; this included a 650+ image photo mosaic which when printed out would be 15ft across! Unfortunately I missed his second presentation on wreck hunting in the Baltic; this covered the 120 or so wrecks that he has ‘dismissed’ during his hunt for the Mars! However, I would guess it would be just as well put together as the Mars presentation. Well done to Richard for his award, I am sure it will sit well with the “Swedish Citizen of the Year Award’ which he received this year for his work on the Mars project.

Dr Simon Mitchell – Considerations for the treatment of DCI in remote locations

Simon was his usual humorous self in the one presentation I saw which was about the treatment of DCI in remote locations and looked at what should be considered before you go but also what should happen in the event of ‘mild DCI’. The reason why Simon concentrated on this area is because if a diver is obviously bent, the decision on what to do is easy. However, if they have some ‘niggles’ which might be musclo-skeletal then the decision is a little more blurred. Simon then went through some considerations and solutions to treat ‘mild DCI’ which would not involve either In Water Recompression (IWR), or evacuation for chambered recompression. He then briefly touched on IWR and described, generally, what the Australian method was.

The main reference which Simon referred to in his presentation was the DAN “Management of mild or marginal decompression illness in remote locations workshop proceedings, 2005” which can be found on the Rubicon website –

DAN Technical Diving Conference 2008 – In Water Recompression –

Other references included “Adjunctive treatment of decompression illness with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (tenoxicam) reduces compression requirement. 2003.” –

Martin Robson – Diving Accident in the Blue Lake, Russia

An excellent talk showing that even with the one of the most capable divers, the best will in the world, combined with some excellent organisational skills, things go wrong and can go wrong really badly. Hope to see your incident in a hyperbaric case study sometime!

Eurotek have provided a feedback page on their website

One response to “Eurotek 2012 – A Fantastic Event, and not just because I was presenting!

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