Practically Rescue Diving – Part 2

We had some breakfast with Simon and talked a bit more about the kinds of things he was seeing at the aquarium wholesaler he was working at. He was our mole, giving us inside information about its workings. The aim was to eventually get out a film that would show people just how damaging the aquarium trade is to marine ecosystems. People don’t really think about the level of destruction that goes into shipping hundreds of fish across vast distances in tiny plastic bags. A plane gets delayed for a few hours? The whole stock is dead and the client simply asks for another.

Simon told us that recently they had come into work to find a tank of five sleeper sharks all dead. The water was cloudy and it looked like one of them might have vomited.

“Do you know why?” I asked.

“Nope,” Simon said, “No one investigated it. We think there might have been a fish that jumped over from a different tank and was eaten by one of the sharks. Fish jump from tank to tank more than you’d think. Or maybe an octopus got into the tank. We don’t know because no one cared enough to find out. We just dug a pit in the back and buried them.”

“Jesus Christ,” Cam said, “And how often does that happen?”

“Well we usually have one or two fish graves every day, with maybe fifty fish in each one?” Simon said, staring into the dregs of his tea, “But those are the little guys. That’s my job when I get into work first thing in the morning. I remove all the dead fish, count them and bury them. Although if they’re in the tanks at the back they don’t get counted.”

“The tanks at the back?” I asked, confused. I wasn’t sure Simon had mentioned those before.

“We sometimes call them the Fattening Tanks. It’s where we put the fish that have refused their food so have gotten skinny and can’t be sold. Or the ones that have marks on their noses where they have bumped the glass too many times. If the fish improves then they move back into the main aquarium but if not then they just get buried, but not counted.”

“And they don’t get fed to other fish?” Cam asked.

“No, they don’t.” Simon said, shaking his head in disdain.

“How can you have enough fish to allow for such a high death toll?” I didn’t understand how they could maintain a lucrative business with so much stock dying.

“The aquarium gets about six hundred fish every day.” Simon replied.

“What?” Cam and I said in unison.

“Six hundred?” I said, incredulous, “Every day?”

“Imagine the toll on the reef,” Cam said with a sigh.

There was a pause. We didn’t really know what to say. Every time we saw Simon he told us things and every time I thought it couldn’t get any worse. But then somehow it always did.

“Well we’d better be getting on,” Simon said, standing up and brushing the crumbs off his lap. “We’ve got work to do,”

After we’d taken most of the dive kit out of the pool, it was time to practice some more scenarios. We had to learn about what to do with a panicked, tired or unconscious diver at the surface, how they could safely be transported to a nearby boat or shore, as well as giving them rescue breaths and then safely removing them from the water using one of five techniques. Simple enough, no?

So I got into the pool, put the full dive kit on and flailed around at the surface, pretending to panic. Cameron had to approach me, asking if I was okay and when I didn’t respond he came around behind me and inflated my BCD. We had to do this many times, as there were different ways that you would approach a panicked diver. You needed to be able to swim away from them quickly if they looked like they were going to try and ‘climb’ up you, you needed to be able to approach from under water and take control of their buoyancy, you needed to be able to use their wrists to spin them around so you could latch onto their tank with your knees to keep them in place.

Tired divers were easier to manage, because they could usually respond to instructions so were more able to help themselves. Unconscious divers needed to be flipped over, have their masks removed and you had to give them rescue breaths as you towed them towards the boat or shore using the modified swimmers carry, underarm or tank tow. Then once you got them back to the boat or shore you had to be able to take off the rest of their dive gear and carry them out of the water using the saddleback carry, pack strap carry, fireman’s lift, modified drag or the lifeguard exit. Then once out of the water we had to be able to undertake Primary Care (so making sure that they were breathing and if they weren’t doing CPR with rescue breaths) and then Secondary Care (treating any injuries using our First Aid training) once we’d established that they were breathing. There was a lot to do.

Every time I had to pretend to be a flailing diver I couldn’t help but burst out laughing

I was making ridiculous shrieking noises and I just could not keep a straight face.

It didn’t help that when I had finally pulled myself together, I approached Cameron asking,

“Diver, diver, are you okay?” (Which is apparently the correct way to address a panicking diver). Through the noise of his splashing he responded with,

“No I’m not mate, I’m fucking drowning,” in such a dead pan way I lost it all over again. I almost choked I was laughing so hard. I appreciate that I probably should have been treating this as more of a real emergency situation, but by this point we’d been in the pool for hours and I was beginning to get a bit delirious with the tedium of it all. In every scenario we would have to inflate the BCD, unclip all of the dive gear, drag each other out the water and then put it back together so the other person could clip into it and we would start all over again.

After what felt like an age Simon declared that we were done. All we needed to do now was practice a couple of scenarios in the sea when the tide came in so we could have a more realistic rescuing experience. Part of me wanted to just call it a day, but I reminded myself of the importance of doing it all properly. After all, these practices might be very important one day.

A couple of hours later we walked down to the shore. I was the rescue diver first, pulling Cameron out of his dive gear and hauling him up on to the beach using a modified drag and proceeded to fall over onto my arse. I really couldn’t help but laugh and it didn’t help that Cameron shouted,

“I’m still bloody drowning, mate!” As I tried to stand back up again.

Once I had a grip of myself I shunted Cam bit further up the beach I pretended to do CPR, telling Simon (as a bystander) to call emergency services. When Cam was ‘breathing’ again I then did a full body check for injuries, gently squeezing his arms and legs to feel for swelling, lumps or tenderness and asking him to squeeze my hands with his and press against my fingers with the bottoms of his feet.

“Nee naw, nee naw, nee naw,” Simon said, imitating the Emergency Services. “Well done,” he said, “You did it!” We then swapped over. Cameron had safely got me out of my dive kit whilst giving me ‘rescue breaths’ and then had to drag me out of the water.

“Aw lay off the chapatis mate,” Cam said, as he tried to lug me out of the water and up the beach. Whilst dragging might seem like the easiest option it was actually surprisingly difficult. I was pretty chuffed with myself because I managed to fireman’s carry Cam out of the water, much to both of our surprise. Cam did it to me as well and I had to try to be a convincing dead person whilst desperately wanting to either burst out laughing or scramble down to safety. After another hour, we were finally done. We needed to do one more dive the next day, repeating the exercises that we did today, but that was just for practice. For all intents and purposes, we had passed.

Cam and I high-fived and walked back up to the house, knackered and just happy to be finished.



  • Boat trip, marking buoys in the Marine Protected Area on GPS
  • Marketing and finalising the newsletter
  • Des leaving for Nairobi
  • Moving into Shwari house
  • Snorkel
  • TaeKwanDo with Bavel
  • Painting at the wall


  • First Emergency Rescue dive with Simon
  • Practicing Emergency Rescue scenarios in the pool
  • Practicing Emergency Rescue scenarios in the sea
  • Snorkel

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close