Skin and scuba underwater diving fatalities involving US citizens, 1970

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Skin and scuba underwater diving fatalities involving US citizens, 1970

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Title: Skin and scuba underwater diving fatalities involving US citizens, 1970
Author: Schenck Jr, H; McAniff, J; Carapezza, E
Abstract: At least 122 Americans died in diving accidents during 1970, 21 while skin diving and 101 while using compressed air or recirculating scuba. For comparison Webster's 1965 survey (1), corrected by our records, identified 94 such accidents of which 27 involved skin diVing and 67 involved scuba. There were nine multiple fatalities in 1970 compared to two in 1965. The majority of cases occured during the summer months and on weekends during both years. The percentage of salt water fatalities in 1970 increased from about one half to almost two-thirds of the annual case load. Age distributions of the victims were similar in the two studies with the under-thirty group contributing the bulk of the fatal accidents. Over a quarter of the scuba fatalities involved inexperienced divers with ten cases out of the 101 being divers on their very first attempt with compressed-air equipment. About forty percent of the fatal cases were divers who had certification or had completed some type of formal training in scuba use. There we~e seven failures of buddy-breathing attempts and at least a dozen other rescue efforts of various sorts. Only ten of the 101 scuba cases involved solo diving. Waves and weather were implicated in about a quarter of the accidents. Although almost half the cases on which data was available had inflatable life vests, only a few divers need them. There were at least five malfunctions involving life vest. Of those divers who attempted to ditch their belts and/or tanks, only a little more than half succeeded. Five cases of heart attacks were identified and eight cases of lung over-pressure. Embolism-type accidents we~e suspected in some twenty more cases where in-water symptoms indicated severe central nervous system difficulties. Most victims appeared to be healthy and in good physical condition. A variety of conclusions and suggestions are given in the report. Our main recommendations are as follows: (a) Scuba certification should never be given until the trainee has undergone at least several, open-water dives under observation. (b) Current transition from pool to open water is too abrupt in most training situations. (C) The buddy-system 1s in wide use by divers but often does not work. Training in accident management should be part of all scuba courses. (d) Straps and attachments should be redesigned so that removal of equipment is made easier both for the man in trouble and his buddy. (e) Inflatable life vests are poorly designed and made. They are generally unsatisfactory and require improvement.
Description: FDA Grant #5 RO1 FD-00142-02
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/9232
Date: 1970

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This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • National Underwater Accident Data Center
    This is a collection of the National Underwater Accident Data Center, University of Rhode Island (URI) annual diving reports. John J. McAniff started collection of diving accident and fatality information in 1970.

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