Wednesday, 14 March 2018


This year’s Joint Service Diving Safety Conference was hosted by the RAFSAA at RAF Brize Norton in order to make the conference more accessible to the service community.  Unfortunately, and unlike the RAF, they forgot to book any heating in the venue.

As usual JSSADC ran a number of skills development courses pre and post conference which included Marine Radio Operator (5-6 Mar), SADS Refresher (8-9 Mar) and Collective First Aid Training (8-9 Mar).

And as usual, JSSADC offered out freebies to the attendees such as new SADS slates and diver recall tags.

Below is a bullet point summary of the conference.  It only needs to be as such, as most of the presentations are hyperlinked. 

BSAC National Diving Officer – Sophie Heptonstall

Sophie delivered updates from the conference back in October including:
· Changes to OD course.
· Technical updates including trying to get me to do more demo skills videos, the purchase of a Liberty CCR and the success of Technical Try-Dives including the next event 25/26 May 2018 at NDAC:

Fancy a day out at BSAC’s next Try Tech event, this is aimed at divers looking to move to rebreather diving or to take one of the combined technical skills development courses. Try Tech is open to BSAC members and non-members who are Sports Diver (or equivalent) or above.

The Try Tech National Event – is to be held over four days from 25 to 28 May at the National Diving and Activity Centre (NDAC) in Chepstow – is the latest in a series of BSAC Try Tech events organised by BSAC’s technical team.

Ideal for divers thinking of moving over to CCR or rebreather divers looking to have a go on another unit. Rebreather units available for the sessions include AP, Poseidon, Liberty and Red Bare.

And new for Try Tech Chepstow, divers can also enjoy:
• BBQ the Saturday and Sunday evenings
• Technical talks on HMS Victoria and RMS Egypt
• Combined Sports/Explorer Mixed Gas Closed Circuit courses
• Combined Twinset Diver/Accelerated Decompression Procedures courses
• Combined Sports and Explorer Mixed Gas Open Circuit courses
These courses can all be booked online.

For more information and to book a space online go to

· Expeditions. The success of Project Highball, Normandy 75 next year (2 hardboats already booked along with other RHIB/expedition opportunities.
· DfA. 2 courses, both Instructor and the new Dive Managers and Buddies Course.  The latter is designed to be delivered in branch over 2-3hrs. 
· The question was asked regarding military clubs & centers.  What do BSAC need from us to help them support us.

The presentation concluded with a Q&A session which covered topics such as certifications and medicals (more to follow).

OIC JSSADC thanked her for all hard work, especially for implementing a 3 month £25 exped membership.

Image provided by JSSADC

Image provided by JSSADC
Cliff delivered a very interesting presentation on the loan pool equipment at Bicester.
· Bicester consists of a number of hangers.  AT equipment (less boats and mountain bikes) is stored in Loan Pool 29.
· All of the equipment is ATG(A) funded.
· The staff consist of the Manager, Liaison Officer, 2 Technicians, Office and Floor staff.  But none are divers.
· The list and quantities of equipment held.  The list in the presentation is not accurate as to what is actually on the shelf due to maintenance, what is already out on loan etc…
· Nitrox regulators and cylinders are M26.  Bicester hold no M26/DIN adaptors.
· The list is not exhaustive so please consider other useful equipment associated with other activities such as Musto’s, ropes etc…
· Bidding process:
oThe forms can be found on ATG(A) intranet.
oSend to G4 Manager & Regional Command.
o60 day lead time.  This must be adhered to otherwise the system will automatically decline your bid.  It can be difficult to change the order once placed however due to nominal changes Bicester will support where possible.
oCannot be used under the 48hr rule.
oThe correct forms must be used.
· Issuing process:
oThe equipment must be collected.  It cannot be shipped.
oThe receiver must be on time for their allocation window.  Leave early.  It will take approximately 3 hours to issue all the equipment.  A cylinder can be provided to check equipment serviceability such as BCD pressure, regulators, Factair…
oAlso check all small items such as DSMBs etc…  Get all the equipment out of its packaging. 
oThe receiver must be BSAC DL or above to receive the equipment.  If a Factair F2235 is to be collected the certificate of training must also be produced. 
· Expedition leaders are to ensure correct equipment discipline. Look after the equipment.  Ensure it is not dragged through the sand, dust caps are fitted etc…
· Do not open the regulators to try and fix them.
· Returning process:
oThe equipment must be returned promptly.  And the equipment must be clean and dry or you will be turned away.  All batteries to be removed from torches.
oComplete logbooks on all the equipment if issued, even if not used.
oComplaints should not be raised to the staff (remember they are just warehouse workers). Report them to your Regional Command.
· Report faults early. There may be larger equipment issues and if identified, any remaining equipment of that type within Loan Pool 29 can be removed from the shelves.  If the equipment is involved in an incident then an incident report form is to be completed.

Cliff then went on to discuss other issues:
· Exped centers and allocations. 
oDIN released in May for Cyprus & Gibraltar.  Ascension currently offline.
oListed the equipment available.  Please note only one computer per person.
oBoats; Ian in Cyprus and RHIBS (purchased from charitable funds) in Gibraltar.
oEquipment developments; A-clamp to DIN on regulators, computers to increase to 2 per person.
· Possible re-allocation of the membrane compressor from Ascension to Cyprus.
· Castlemartin exped option.

The presentation concluded with a Q&A session which covered:
· Issue of computer batteries?  No as will go missing (kept) if not used.
· Loan pool save a dive kit for expeds? Good idea but no for the same reason above.
· Nitrox regulators/40% rule/manufacturers guidelines.
· Availability of M26 to DIN adaptors.  No.

BSAC Safety Update – Jim Watson (BSAC)

Image provided by JSSADC
Like Sophie’s presentation, he delivered updates from the conference back in October.  This included:
· Initial thoughts.
· Linking BSAC courses to JSP 419, the definition, phases, and how they can tie into the core skills such as Teamwork, Leadership, Communication Skills, Resource Management, Financial Management, Planning, Administration Skills and Working with Others.
· BSAC  Safety Report 2017.
oFrom October 1st to September 30th.
o236 Incidents reported, 31 of those were overseas (which involved BSAC members).
oHe compared this year’s incidents with the past 10 years.  This includes BSAC’s reporting, Coastguard and RNLI with all reported similar data in terms of trends.  However the RNLI data was only assessed as they changed their reporting methods this year so it was not fully captured. 
oThere appeared to be a spike in IPO, separation and solo diving.  All of which were identified as being involved in an incident but not necessarily the cause.  To note, the team at CJSATC were given an award this year for their swift response to an incident which was reported to include IPO.
oThe average age of a diver involved in an incident is 55 year old.
oThe incident report was linked back to Adventurous Training.  A controlled exposure to risk.  Dom then added that in the assessed circa 20000 dives through AT (including expeds, training etc…) there was not a single report of a DCI.
oEvery year the same contributing factors occur such as rapid ascents, separation etc… Only the percentages change.  However there have now been the more unusual which included trapped wind, unzipped dry suits, foul gas, and condom catheters.  
oIn conclusion, the results appear normal despite the lack of RNLI data.

Jim then linked back to Joint Service incident reporting and summarized that the majority of incidents reported were not serious.  And that we as a community had helped the wider diving community.  Such as the AP14 CCR cell issues as we were the only members of the UK diving community that were reporting it.

50 Years of RAFSAA – Peter Maskell, Dave Ray, and Mark Brabon

Pete started off the presentation discussing Ascension and the possible return of Voyager aircraft to the island in 2019/2020, along with the possibility of a COMMAC at Cape Verde.  Regarding the Ascension equipment, one membrane compressor may go to CJSATC as previous discussed in Cliff’s presentation, one maybe kept in storage, as will the equipment (for now).

Image provided by JSSADC
Dave then went on to discuss the formation of RAFSAA (ppt download) and how BSAC as an organisation and its qualifications have changed over the years, as how the equipment that we use.

Mark then went on to discuss the success of Exercise MALTESE EAGLE (ppt download):
· He discussed the background and aims:
o19 exercises.  7 of those were in the UK and 12 were overseas.
oEach exercise is one week long, but conducted over two sessions throughout the year.  Each session consists of two one week exercises. 
o20 places per week.  10 are open for beginners and another 10 for qualified divers.
oThere are 8 instructors per week.
· It is a perceived success as for this upcoming year 220 people have applied for 80 slots. 
· JRs are paired with an officer for the week for development. 

The presentation concluded with a Q&A session.  It was discussed whether a UK model would have the same ‘pull’ as Malta.  It was also asked if they had seen any retention, however this is no different in my opinion to any other adventurous training activity.  Finally, one of the audience members had been a MALTESE EAGLE participant and gave their (positive) thoughts on the experience.

MOD Diving Safety – Cdr Don Crosbie Superintendent of Diving & Nick Harrington, Diving Standards Officer (Adventurous Training)

The new SofD introduced himself and explained that adventurous training safety is a small part of his responsibilities.  And the presentation would not cover SF, Army, RN etc… diving activities. 
· The history of the Diving Standards Team and their organisation, since the origins of Defence Diving Regulations in 2002 and the formation of the Diving Standards Team (DST) in 2003.
· What they do.
· Current legislation:
oH&SAW Act 1974 and Diving at Work Act 1997).
· …and guidance:
oHSE Inshore Approved Code of Practice Inshore ACOP and HSE Recreational Approved Code of Practice – Recreational ACOP.
· Diving Regulations.  Summary of the documentation.
· Guidance and Duty Holder responsibilities.
· DST’s role.
· Current issues:
oReview of diving governance (upper levels rather than AT).
oJSAT observations
oAssociation branches.  At work?
oHSE medicals – Try dive.  INM lead.
oDecompression models.
oNFCI.  In the words of SofD.  Once the stone was unturned they tried to put it down but they couldn’t. 
oDive computer guidance.
oDSM 1/18.  In relation to the use of cold water regulations. 

Image provided by JSSADC
Nick then told us of his background, in post since 2007, before explaining:
· Branch statistics; RNRMSAA, ASADA, RAFSAA.
· COMMAC statistics.  But also emphasised that if they’re not used the centers will not renew and we as a service community will lose out.

Overall, very short and sweet.


Image provided by JSSADC
· Me.  Following up on a new point from last year where the old SofD banned technical training in branch.  Only JSSADC  and CJSATC could deliver it under JS regulations.  The new SofD explained that he (potentially) didn’t see why, if the instructors are appropriately qualified and the safe systems were in place, why it couldn’t be delivered in branch.  No change of policy yet but the new SofD seems very onside.  More to follow.  I will chase this again next year.
· More questions on DSM 1/18, manufacturers guidelines, age of regulators etc…  This then snowballed into further questions and discussions.  Post conference an amendment was issued and is below:

DSM 02-18 – SCUBA Emergency Breathing Systems
Following discussions with HSE, JSSADPAC and at the JS Diving Safety Conference the Defence Safety Agency (DSA) has issued DSM 02-18.  This supersedes DSM 01-18 which is now obsolete.

The DSM can be accessed on the DST website or at this link.

· Try dive medicals.  As anticipated this was a hot topic and some thought an answer to this issue would be released at the conference.  However there are plans in place to hopefully mitigate the need for a try-dive medical if certain conditions are met, such as maximum depth of water.  More to follow shortly. 
· The previous questions also brought up the question of HSE medicals v Leaflet 12-03.  Nothing is confirmed or even promised, but the use of HSE medicals is something that is currently being looked at.  However an HSE medical is lower than a military one in terms of Diabetes & asthma.
· It also brought up that each single service has differing start states to be able attend a diving medical. 
· Quality Assurance.  The QA process was raised but BSAC NDO summarised by saying in a volunteer organisation there is not the time, manpower or resources to do the level of QA that was being asked.  Jim Watson highlighted that this doesn’t mean BSAC is not interested in QA, but we already have a QA in place (surveys on course materials, DO in branch, or lead instructor in centres).  ASADA Chairman added that professional organisations such as PADI do not even have the level of QA that was proposed.
· I then raised a point about the number of Instructor Trainers within the military, and if branch members feel there is a QA issue that can request IT support through their single service associations.
· Duty of care, sponsors, being held to account, promoting safety.  This re-generated the medical discussion.
· Questions on duty/off duty status, military funds/non-public funds and how branches can survive if they’re a garrison branch rather than a station branch due to less direct funding.  It was requested if ATGA could deliver more input into branches. Cliff Pearn discussed ATG(A) funding. This tied back into the sponsor debate.
· Ginge raised the question on my behalf regarding the proposed DIN last year on Castlemartin giving free training packs to ASADA branches.  Unfortunately due to ATG(A) funding this has been shelved for the time being.

The day then finished with a closing address followed by a function later that evening to celebrate the 50th anniversary of RAFSAA.

Thank you to JSSADC for the use of pictures and presentation downloads.

The next conference is due to be on 20 March 2019.

Safe diving.

The boring bit!
All opinions expressed in my articles are my own and may differ to other instructor’s and agency guidelines; by no means are they wrong and I would not wish to disrepute any of them.  This article is for information only and should not replace proper training.

Safe diving!

Timothy Gort
BSAC, PADI & SDI/TDI diver training
l Mob: 07968148261 l Email: l