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If Only… Divers learning from errors

Ashley Bugge and Gareth Lock.
Ashley Bugge and Gareth Lock.


‘If Only…' – a documentary about the death of a US scuba diver produced by British diving safety expert Gareth Lock –  is released online today (20 May).

Lock went to Hawaii last November to work with diver Ashley Bugge on the film about the sudden death of her husband Brian on 20 May, 2018.

Brian Bugge, 35, a US Pacific Fleet Integrated Undersea Surveillance Systems officer, had been off-duty on a closed-circuit rebreather training dive in Honolulu. Ashley was weeks away from having the couple’s third child.

Bugge failed to turn on the oxygen supply to his Liberty rebreather before entering the water, and within minutes had passed out on the seabed. He was brought back up but could not be resuscitated. No blame was attached to rebreather manufacturer Divesoft.

“I hope this film will act as an example of what can be done when a story can be told, and save lives in the process,” says Lock. “One of the inspirations for this film was Just a Routine Operation by Martin Bromiley, which had a huge impact on developing human-factors practice in healthcare.

“I hope that ‘If Only…' has the same effect in diving and further afield too, showing that the multiple factors that lead to an accident are not easy to see at the time, and that by discussing these context-rich stories, we can improve safety for all. We must understand how it made sense for those involved to do what they did, even if it appears irrational in hindsight.”

A former RAF squadron leader and flight instructor, Lock has long believed that the diving community can learn from the aviation industry’s emphasis on learning from past mistakes. His company The Human Diver educates divers and others in decision-making, situational awareness, communication skills, leadership, teamwork and stress- and fatigue-management.

“This is not a blame game for me,” says Ashley Bugge. “This is about Brian’s life and death being the inspiration for everyone in the diving community to consider how their thoughts, feelings, instincts and behaviour all play a critical role in being safe in the water.

“I’m hoping the pain and trauma of losing Brian will encourage divers to never take anything for granted. Every day must be a schoolday when it comes to diving.”

Watch ‘If Only…' here after 6.49pm BST (the time of Bugge’s death).


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