Check the checks

Like, I suspect, many others, I had an arrogant notion that accidents were for other people: "I've been diving too long to have a problem." Well, the last two months have been a salutary experience. I have studied the 150 or so incident reports I have received so far, and they make sobering reading. For a start, they include 14 deaths (as of mid-September), against an annual average of less than 10 - a worryingly high figure.
I wish I could make all divers read these reports. They bring home, often very graphically, how quickly an incident can occur and strike any one of us. As I cannot do this, my goal is to distil for you the experiences contained in those reports with as much impact as I can.
One of my first impressions of the 1996 reports is that a number of serious and potentially serious incidents might have been avoided if correct buddy checks had been conducted.
For many branches the training programme is about to start again. One of the basics I would urge you to instill is that buddy checks are not things that are taught to trainees but only conducted by wimps and exam candidates, they are as important as the preflight checks that all pilots conduct. Would you expect to fly in an unchecked aircraft?
Stacking the dice in your favour is not the action of a wimp, it is that of a prudent person who wants to live long enough to see their snorkel wither.
Next time you see a buddy check completed, challenge the two divers to stand back to back and answer questions on each other's kit. They will be amazed by what they don't know.
If we all do this simple task rigorously, the chances are that one or two more of us could be alive next year - and, just like the Lottery, it could be you.
The only difference is, the prize is bigger, the odds of "it being you" are much bigger, and entrance is free.