Meridian Diver Ernie B, a PADI Asst Instructor, had his rescue skills tested for real on 9th June. Thankfully he was not found wanting and without a shadow of a doubt if it wasn’t for his prompt actions and diving skills his buddy, Sheila, might have suffered a severe injury. Meridian Divers don’t have a medal to award but if they did Ernie would surely get it.
Ernie and Sheila descended on a shot line that had been placed on the wreck by another dive boat, on reaching the bottom at around 20m they released the shot line and were about to start their tour when his buddy signalled "Up". As Ernie and Sheila started to launch their Delayed Surface Marker Buoy the attentive and observant Ernie became concerned for the condition of Sheila, he then saw her condition deteriorate and as a result immediately employed his PADI training to recover an unresponsive diver from under water. In textbook fashion he immediately conducted a controlled positive buoyancy ascent (as described in the Rescue Course: Rescue Exercise 6) and brought her to the surface where she was assisted by dive boat crews. Ernie’s buddy was given Oxygen and rushed back to Newhaven aboard the dive boat.
Ernie and Sheila were taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital. Ernie was released quickly however his buddy who had inhaled water was kept in longer for observations. Neither diver required hyperbaric treatment. Ernie’s fast thinking saved the day, his efforts were supported by the dive boats present. The full rescue was co-ordinated by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency who responded to the dive boat's emergency call and arranged the ambulance and hospital co-ordination along with the RNLI attendance. The Royal Navy diving doctor was, through MCA engagement, able to give a full brief to the hospital. A text book rescue, which prevented a far more serious outcome.
Meridian Divers will be contacting PADI to commend Ernie and others on their response.