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Teenager Scuba Diving accident and survival

I dive for almost 3 years now and I got more than 50 logged dives. My father who is instructor’s trainer gave me the training to become advanced diver. We all dive in the family. My brother, 12 is a certified diver with already 20 logged dives and my sister, 9, knows already how to breathe with a regulator. She even went diving at 3 meters. And of course my mum is an advanced diver with EFR qualification. Here is the story:

Tuesday 17th of August 2010: I am feeling well and happy because yesterday I got a rest day after 6 dives the 2 previous days. So I should be free of nitrogen according to the recreational tables…

8am: my mother, brother, sister and I were waiting the other divers to come. Today the plan is to go to Mataking Island with 3 tanks each. Mataking is one of the nice dive spots around Sipadan, North East of Borneo Island – the Malaysian part of Borneo. You can have a look on the file Scuba Diving In Borneo to have a better idea on this wonderful region.

The organization is as followed: one tank once we arrived on the spot, another one 2 hours later then the last one after lunch and nap.

After more than an hour and half of speed boat, we arrive at Mataking Island. At 9:40am my brother, Mum and myself together with the dive master Robert start our descent. Naturally, Robert takes care of my brother and I am in buddy with my mum. Robert stops the descent at 12 meters for my brother but we continue down to 18 meters with my mum. She takes few pictures and I hold the torch to focus more on the subject. Then she went deeper to 26 meters. I was watching nice and big fishes then decided to join my mum to help and give her some light on the scene. She takes few pictures then moves ahead to another spot. At that time I decide to go up and stay at 18 meters watching the rich fauna and flora.

Few minutes passed and…. suddenly without any warning I started to loose the control of right side body. Neither my ear or arm nor my right leg could respond to my brain orders; something was happening like in a plane when you loose control and the stick is not useful anymore. It was a strange situation because it was not really painful but on the psychological side it was really scary. So I decided to go up slowly with my left leg and arm and joined Robert and my brother who were not far from me, my mum was deeper so not a good option in such situation. I was wondering what was happening to my body so I tried to explain to Robert with my operational left hand without success. To be half paralyzed and trying to explain underwater such thing to someone who never met such situation is almost impossible. With such tremendous efforts (going up then trying to explain) the situation worsened so I fainted eventually.

Luckily Robert realized the situation was critical and could catch my BCD on time otherwise I would have drowned in front of my brother and Robert. He called my mum to go up to end the dive as quickly as possible. But because I was still breathing, but unconscious, both of them decided to make a safety stop anyway, monitoring my condition second by second. After few minutes at 5 meters they went back on the boat. My brother went on the boat first. Then Robert and Mum stayed in the water to un don my equipment and help to carry me on the boat. Immediately I was put under pure oxygen.

All divers and snorkelers were called back and counted. This took few minutes more… To ensure maximum efficiency and speed, the boat, where I was laying down, was lightened by disembarking all unnecessary equipment food and drinks on the island. Despite I was unconscious, I could hear my sister and my brother asking questions to Robert and trying to talk to me thinking I was dead…

It was time to go back to the pier at full speed. The boat took only 30 minutes instead of an hour and half to reach the pier. An ambulance was already waiting for me to carry me straight to the hospital to have my first checkup by a doctor. In the meantime the boat went back on the spot to continue the dives with the other divers.

I arrived at 11:45 at the hospital. Then few minutes after it was decided to sent me to the Semporna’s Navy Hyperbaric Chamber.

Before going in the chamber, the 3 doctors wanted to gather as many information as possible to decide the right treatment to be applied for my case. Robert arrived 30 minutes after my admission and joined the doctors to give additional information on top of the one already given by my mum. Eventually I came into the chamber at 1:30pm for a treatment of 4hours45mn but it was not clearly stated that I was suffering from a DCS… Risk of wrong treatment was there.

Read the second part of my scuba accident.


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