Diving injuries on the increase

THERE has been an increase in the number of injuries to sports divers.

In total, 61 incidents involving divers were registered last year, 12 of which caused injury. The incidents officer at the Irish Underwater Council said this was a rise in incidents compared to 2009.

Incidents included near misses between vessels and divers going missing, with the then-incidents officer Don McCarthy claiming this was of great concern, particularly when it occurs in poor sea conditions.

Other incidents centred on divers experiencing air shortage due to “free flow” and also rapid ascent to the surface which can cause problems such as gas embolism, which can be similar to “the bends”.

Some of the incidents are outlined in the latest edition of Subsea magazine, which caters for the leisure diving sector in Ireland.

Regarding divers going missing, Mr McCarthy notes that “there is a lot of effort in towing boats to the launch site and commuting to the site” meaning in some cases there “can be a temptation to ‘give it a go’ regardless of the sea state”.

In at least one incident the coastguard had to be called to help locate the position of a missing diver.

In a number of other incidents divers were airlifted to hospital.

National diving officer Martin Kiely said the figures did not necessarily indicate that more incidents were occurring, but instead that more were being reported.

Sports diving limits divers to a depth of 40ft, and while it is mostly in coastal areas, some divers also use lakes and inland areas, such as the Portroe Quarry in Co Tipperary.

The report cites an increase in “free flow” incidents as divers are doing more fresh, cold water diving in Portroe.


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