Diver Out Of Air Miscommunication Incident

Who knows the communications Protocol? Communication is a key survival tool, especially when scuba diving.

A surprising number of out of air incidents are caused or exacerbated by miscommunication between dive buddies. In the scenarios that we have come across the message just isn’t getting through when distressed (out of air) divers are signaling his/her dive buddy. The attempted signal is acknowledged, but the message isn’t being received.

In these incidents it is as though the recipient is not verifying or acknowledging what they believe the message to be. As a result, the intended receiver of the message proceeds on with whatever is in their head having never received the message.

We must remember that communication is a 2-way event. There is a communications protocol. The sender sends a message, the receiver should interpret the message and reply with their understanding. A message is only successfully transferred when the the original sender sends acknowledgement to the intended receiver that the message got through.


The Communications protocol for properly sending and receiving messages is as follows.

<< Message Initiated>>
Step 1.) Message sender >>-Message –> Message receiver ( interpret)
Step 2.) Message Sender <–Message-<< Message receiver – replies with what was understood
Step 3.) Message Sender Sends >>-OK–> Message Receiver
Step 4.) Message Sender <<– OK-<< – Message Receiver replies OK
<< Message Complete>>

Watch the video below for a classic example of how miscommunication can happen during a dive.

“Real Diver Out Of Air Incident” – YouTube video by Rob Neto

Remember proper communication requires acknowledgement of that you think you heard. Try to keep these communication principles in mind when communicating above and below the surface.

Images Source: YouTube Clips

Related Posts:
Out of Air Incident & Miscommunication


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