Lessons Learned: Planning and Safety Preparations Before Dive

Planning and Safety Preparations Before Dive

In the December 2019 UC Field Research Safety newsletter, UCLA EH&S Field Safety Specialist, Claudia Alii, PhD, recounts an incident that served as an important Lesson Learned and influenced her career.

Claudia Alli PhD photo.While working at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research, a group of researchers went out to observe spiny lobsters in their natural habitat. A new member went with them and stayed on the boat while they conducted the dive. After some time, the new member felt nervous about the length of the dive and returned to the Biological Station.

As you might imagine, chaos ensued. Nobody had the exact coordinates of the dive site, it was getting dark and emergency procedures were not in place. After hours of unsuccessful search and rescue, the families of the missing researchers were informed.

Later that night the exhausted and angry divers staggered into the facility after swimming for hours to shore and then walking from a remote location back to the Biological Station. What a relief, and what a wake-up call!

Simple preparation could have prevented this near miss situation. The fear I experienced during the hours of uncertainty shaped my outlook on safety and eventually made it my profession!

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