Competence & Confidence
Risk mitigation and awareness are not about killing the excitement of diving but about making sure everyone always returns safely from a dive and does not suffer any injury.
Diving is a relatively safe activity and pastime. At least, it ranks low in statistics regarding injuries compared to many other sport disciplines. Certainly, we would not have dive programmes and certifications for young kids under eight years old if it was unsafe or risky.
But low risk is not equal to no risk, and whatever is considered an acceptable level of risk under various circumstances can always be lowered further—perhaps just in small increments, but it all adds up over time.
Risk mitigation and awareness is not about killing the excitement of diving but about making sure everyone always returns safely from a dive and does not suffer any injury. It is about making sure we live to dive again another day and have many more great experiences in the good company of fellow dive buddies. Not least, it is also about not having our loved ones worried sick every time we venture out to dive. We simply owe it to them to always be safety-minded and not cavalier about risk, because they will suffer too if we suffer any serious or lasting injury.
It is not like I am obsessing over injuries and accidents, but I find myself quite preoccupied with learning from incidents and finding improvements, however small, or coming to new realisations of where and how mistakes are made so recurrences can be avoided. They do this type of analysis in many other industries, as a matter of fact. The insights gained from them can also be quite interesting because one may learn a lot about the human psyche in the process.
Founder of The Human Diver and Global Underwater Explorer’s director for risk management, Gareth Lock, who brought the concept of Human Factors into dive training, coined the term counter-errorism—I suspect as a fun yet serious pun, which turned out to be eye-catching on printed merchandise. In any case, I think it is a brilliant slogan, as it puts a single, memorable and highly descriptive word to the mindset we should cultivate.
Going methodically and calmly through my pre-dive checks, and keeping all my gear in good nick and well-maintained, puts me in the zone where I feel focused, confident and relaxed, yet never complacent or inattentive. This comes with a lot of benefits. It makes my dives significantly more enjoyable and more effortless, and it leaves me with plenty of mental reserves to deal with unforeseen situations, in a calm and collected manner. As a result, I take better pictures too, and I avoid the dreaded, excruciating, expensive flooding of my camera gear—knock on wood.
A lot of the techniques and mindsets are adapted from technical diving, where they were first developed and then trickled down to recreational diving. X-Ray Mag is not a technical diving magazine as such, but a big part of the reason why we publish a fair deal of articles on technical diving is because of all the useful insights, lessons and mindsets that all divers can benefit from, regardless of their level of certification.
Venturing into technical diving is a personal choice, and we are not suggesting that everyone should go down that route, but we do encourage all divers to pay attention to new developments and insights. Progress is constant and interesting to follow.