UK diving incidents involving decompression illness are falling, but where DCI does occur the increasingly common factors appear to be diving below 30m and repeat diving – and too often apparent symptoms are shrugged off by divers.
That’s one of the findings in the British Sub Aqua Club’s Diving Incident report for 2019, published this month. UK diving’s national governing body moved to reporting by calendar year for the first time last year.
The report analysed a total of 271 incidents throughout the UK and others overseas, and includes comprehensive synopses as case studies from which it’s hoped divers can learn lessons.
The number of incidents reported in 2019 was slightly up on the previous year, reflecting what BSAC believes was an increase in diving activity including an early start to the season, as well as inclusion of incident reports from Ireland, provided by the Irish Underwater Council.
There were 13 UK fatalities, down by four from the previous year but still in line with the annual average for the past decade of 14.1. One of the divers was over 70 and the average age was 58.3 (in 2018 three divers had been over 70 and average age was 56).
BSAC says that age and potential related health and fitness issues could still be critical factors among fatalities, and that there were “strong indications” that pre-existing medical causes or immersion pulmonary oedema (IPO) remained factors in a number of diving deaths.
The number of fast ascents increased, with indications that the increase was related either to failed deployment of delayed surface marker buoys or equipment malfunctions.