AIDA Chief of Safety

Published: 20/03/2018

To the AIDA freediving community,

Under undesirable circumstances I took up the position of AIDA Chief of Safety in the second half of last year and whilst I was hoping to address you all a little sooner, I hope that you will forgive me. I wont give you excuses but I can tell you that I have an agenda and work has been in motion right from the very moment I took over the role, even if it may not be immediately apparent to some of you.

Some things you should know; This post is a relatively new one appointed by AIDA President Carla Hansen. It does not come with an instruction manual, there was not an existing committee and I have not been Chief of Safety for an association, federation or business prior to this. So what I will rely upon is not my previous experience as a safety officer but instead my experience as a freediver. That is as an instructor, an athlete, a chief of safety and a competition organiser. I will rely on my experience as a scuba diving instructor and I will rely on my experience as an industrial electrician, having worked in hazardous areas for many years in Australia and New Zealand. And I will rely upon the feedback and advice given to me by the panel of experts that I have asked to join the AIDA Safety Committee(ASC).

This panel is made up of the following people(in no particular order):

1. Louisa Collyns
2. Chris Mackay
3. Ben Jeffares
4. Daan Verhoeven
5. Stefan Randig
6. Stavros Kastrinakis

They are some of the most experienced safety divers, organisers, judges, instructors(master instructors and instructor trainers) and athletes in the entire freediving community. With this base of knowledge and experience it means that we are looking at issues from all angles.

Freediving experience is not the only reason the committee has been selected. They each bring with them a unique set of skills and traits that make them an asset to the committee and to AIDA itself.

Our main objective is simple:

Bring a proactive approach to safety but preserve the fun.

What this means is that we want to systematically prevent accidents from occurring. We hope to do so through education, foresight and planning, standards and procedures such as cross checks and redundancies. For too long the sport has been 'reactive' making changes only after there has been an incident or near miss. This is going to mean more paperwork for a few(myself included) but for the majority of you it is going to be business(fun) as usual.

We are working closely with the Medical and Science Committee(MSC), Technical Committee(TC) and of course the Education Committee(EC). Some of the outlined projects require input from more than one(or even all) department(s) and this is a very time consuming process. Some of the projects will be completed in stages and it will likely take the full course of the year to complete them. This is not because we want to drag our feet or because we enjoy bureaucracy (because trust me, I really dont!) But please remember that all persons involved in the committees are volunteers, many of whom have their own businesses and projects to run at the same time. Receiving well thought out feedback does not happen immediately, even in this day and age.

To those of you who would like to know what work has already been started or is planned for by the ASC please see below. These aren't the only projects in motion within AIDA, these along with many other projects are currently being worked on by the other departments:

Internal projects:
-Establishing a member registry, internal communications strategy and project development process
-Establish a communications strategy between ASC and the AIDA community

On going projects:
-Incident reporting/data collection (joint project initiated by MSC)- Phase one completed and awaiting formal approval
-Guidelines for Pool and Depth training (Freediving NZ initiative- Near to completion)
-A Proposal to standardise Line setting/Line marking/ Pre-dive checks and procedures(Initial proposal near to completion)
-BO Policy Proposal (joint project initiated by MSC, in collaboration with MSC, TC)- Near to completion
-Serious incident investigation and reporting- Ongoing
-Establishing an Emergency box for the Dahab BH(in collaboration with EC, TC, MSC)

Proposed Projects
-Risk Management system
-Review/Re-write of the AIDA Safety diver materials(in collaboration with EC, TC, MSC)
-Chief of Safety Codes of Practice (in collaboration with EC, TC, MSC)
-Competition Organiser Guide lines and Documents(in collaboration with TC, EC)
-Serious Incidents - Legal Lessons document
-Safety Bulletin Newsletter

Through observation at various events and locations and with considerable thought I have identified and planned these projects. I believe that these projects and initiatives hold the potential to improve the safety of our sport greatly and for now they are where my priority lies. This does not mean that I am not open to suggestions but it does mean that I will refrain from extended conversations and debates on FB in order for me to channel my free time towards completing them. If there is something I have overlooked by all means, send me an email. If it is deemed to be more important than what we are currently working on then it will get bumped up the list of priorities.

We will endeavour to keep you updated throughout the year. The competition season is fast approaching and in some parts of the world has already kicked off(Congrats to all at NZ Depth Nats!). This means there is still much to be done and not a lot of time.

For now thats all from me but being Paddy's day and all I'd like to close with a couple of words to my predecessor.

Legends dive forever.. Sláinte Steve, hope you're enjoying a cold one!