SCRET Safety Diver Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Pre-dive Procedures:

1. Assist loading of gear onto the main boat and the chase boat(s). Be sure that you have verified which divers will be on each boat so that the appropriate gear is loaded onto the correct boat.
2. Verify that all safety divers and surface support crew have a timetable for all dive teams. Write down appropriate decompression schedules.


To Assist a Team Entering the Water:

1. Help each diver into his/her doubles and assist him/her onto the swim step. Clip on decompression bottles in the order requested by the diver. Verify the clip position with the diver.
2. Let the diver know when he/she is clear to enter the water; that is, when the boat is in position and no one is below the diver in the water.
3. Once the diver is in the water, hand him/her scooters and/or video equipment.
4. When the team descends, be sure the boat skipper has recorded the decent time.

Repeat for each dive team. Once the first team is down, all safety divers and surface support should be on the look out for lift bags.


Meeting the Team and Reporting to the Surface:

The primary job of a safety diver is to track the dive team on the surface, meet the dive team at the planned time and depth and provide communication between the dive team and the surface crew.

A safety diver should be ready to go 15 minutes after his/her team descends. If the dive team intends to ascend on a fixed line, the safety diver should generally enter the water at the end of the dive team's planned bottom time and descend to the planned meeting depth, usually 70ft. or 120ft. depending on the first decompression gas switch. The safety diver should adjust the timeframe for deeper meetings or longer decompression profiles.

If the dive team intends to make a free, drifting ascent and shoot a bag from a planned depth, the safety diver and surface crew should watch for the bag to surface. The safety diver should enter the water and descend to the planned meeting depth as quickly as possible after the bag surfaces.

A surface diver should always plan his/her dive to avoid required decompression. The safety diver must be able to surface at any time and communicate with the boat crew.

1. Carry an appropriate safety bottle, usually an AL 40 of EAN 50 (70 ft.) or an AL 40 of 35/30 trimix (120 ft.).
2. Coordinate your entry and descent with the boat captain.
3. Descend to the planned meeting depth and wait for the dive team.
4. Observe whether or not all members of the dive team are present (COUNT THE DIVERS). Give each diver an OK sign and observe that an OK is returned.
5. Next, signal to each team member that you are surfacing.
6. Surface and report the status of the dive team to the boat crew (e.g. all divers are together on the line, or one diver is missing).
7. If a member of the dive team is missing, the boat crew should immediately begin watching for another bag, and a second safety diver should repeat the above procedure when the second bag is located. If there is only one safety diver, he/she should follow instructions from the boat captain.
8. After communicating with the boat crew, the safety diver should descend and tend the members of the dive team as they are decompressing.

Tending a Decompressing Team:

Ask each member of the dive team if he/she wishes to hand off equipment. Normally, you should take scooters and video equipment first, then decompression bottles. Do not ride scooters or breath bottles that have been handed off to you.


Procedure for Handing off Scooters:

1. Make sure the pitch on the scooter propeller is dialed down and that the scooter trigger is pinned (always carry extra scooter trigger pins). This procedure should be done by the member of the dive team; however it is important that the safety diver confirm that the procedure has been followed to ensure that he/she does not end up with a "run-a-way" scooter.
2. Unclip the scooter tow cord from diver.
3. Have the diver clip the scooter tow cord to you and verify that it is clipped. If you wish the scooter to be clipped to a particular location, let diver know.


Procedure for Handing off Bottles:

1. Verify with the diver which bottle is to be handed off.
2. Confirm that the diver has stowed the regulator and/or rebreather drive hose.
3. Confirm that the diver has turned off the bottle.
4. Confirm with the diver whether he/she wants to unclip the bottle or have you unclip the bottle from the diver.
5. When the bottle has been removed from the diver, have him/her clip the bottle to you or to a leash.  Indicate to the diver whether you want the bottle clipped to a leash, nose-clipped to your hip D-ring, or clipped to both D-rings.
6. Return to the surface with each load.  Do not attempt to carry more equipment than you can handle.  Follow instructions from the boat crew and have them help you get equipment into the boat.

Tending a Surfaced Dive Team:

Once the dive team surfaces, assist each member by unclipping any remaining decompression bottles and equipment.  Help carry equipment securely over to the boat and hand it to the boat crew.  If requested, assist divers who are taking off gear in the water.

Remember that the surface is a potentially dangerous part of the dive, given the uncertainty of wind, current, and waves.  Be alert and cautious as you approach the boat, which may bounce up and down or swing unpredictably.  Also, remember that the boarding ladder is likely to be on the same end of the boat as the propeller.  Make sure the boat captain is aware that you are approaching the boat so he can stop the engine and lock the propeller in gear.  On most boats, the propeller will continue to spin if the engine is running in “neutral”.

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