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The Yellow DSMB and it's use.

Discussion in 'Dive Equipment' started by Badknees, Apr 13, 2008.

  1. Badknees

    Badknees Meg Pilot (retired) and Forum KGB

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    Follwing on from a Thread contected to spools I thought I'd post this here for all to read.

    This has been copied from a very good little site call bitz diving, link below

    They explain the use of the yellow DSMB better than i can.

    http://www.bitz.fsnet.co.uk/index.htm

    Yellow SMB What does it mean?

    To some a Yellow DSMB is used exactly as an Orange one, i.e. it is used to indicate the position and presence of divers. However in growing diving circles, particularly technical diving, it has become established as an emergency signal, to communicate to the surface that the diver below has a problem of some description.

    This could mean for example that he has simply lost his Orange DSMB or perhaps more importantly that he has insufficient gas to complete the planned dive without risking an early ascent to the surface and needs help.

    Shouldn't it be next to an Orange one if there is a problem?

    No! Some believe that a Yellow SMB on its own means that the diver has just lost his Orange one and no action is required. This is fundamentally flawed, after all, if a diver is in dire circumstances, he may not be able to inflate an Orange SMB, perhaps not being able to spare the time, effort or maybe even having lost it in what could be a highly stressful situation.

    You should always assume the worst case scenario unless you know to the contrary, even if there is a "loose" Orange SMB floating around with no divers below it.

    A Yellow buoy and an Orange buoy on the same line indicate a definite problem but you still have to take the same action if a Yellow buoy is on its own. You quite simply don't know any better.

    What if I own a Yellow SMB and no Orange one?

    Keep it and carry it, ideally with a spare reel or spool, but don't use it unless you have to. You may be grateful of it one day! Of course you will need to buy an Orange SMB as well.

    If I need to signal the surface do I do anything special?

    Assuming you have already deployed an Orange buoy then you simply clip your Yellow emergency SMB to the same line and inflate it. It would then float on the surface next to the Orange SMB. If you have the time and opportunity, it may be worth attaching a slate to the bottom with a message to indicate the nature of the problem.

    If you have not already deployed an Orange SMB, you would initially send up a Yellow SMB to indicate a problem (again with a message on a slate if you have the time and opportunity). You would then follow it with an Orange buoy on the same line if you can, but do not complicate an already difficult position to do this.

    It is best to be a little negatively buoyant in the water, hanging off the line. This will raise the buoy(s) into a vertical position and make it/them more obvious to the boat. It is also a lot easier to lower extra gas down a vertical line than one at an angle.

    If you simply lose your Orange DSMB, firstly use your buddy's SMB for the ascent, or if he doesn't have one, use your Yellow one but try to attach a message to the bottom to indicate that this isn't an emergency. This will avoid unnecessary action by the skipper and divers already on board!

    What do I do if I see a Yellow SMB?

    A lot will depend on the circumstances, but the following steps are probably a pretty good start. Remember that it may not be a friend's SMB…i.e. some unenlightened soul from a different club may be using it as a normal SMB.

    1. Advise the skipper and the dive marshal (if already back on board) or any other experienced diver(s) and get the boat to approach the buoy.
    2. Establish whether it belongs to a club member. It should have a name or identifying mark on it to indicate whom it is.
    3. See if there is a message attached to the bottom indicating the problem, if any.
    4. If no indication then assume the worst. The first step should if possible be to get extra gas down the line by slowly lowering a bottle along the SMB line on a length of rope, which is attached to a buoy capable of supporting its weight. Ideally it should be a decompression cylinder if one is available, but don't forget the regulator!
    Note: Decompression cylinders should be marked with the "Maximum Operating Depth", normally "6" or "21". Cylinders marked with a "6" should not be lowered below six metres, likewise cylinders marked with "21" should not be lowered below twenty-one metres, this is because of problems of Oxygen toxicity. If you have a choice, use a "21" metre cylinder in preference to a "6" metre, unless you can clearly see the divers close to the surface.
    5. Either one or two "experienced" divers, dependent on their skills, the conditions and circumstances, should start to get ready to enter the water and proceed down the SMB line as soon as possible. But only after they have ensured that they have a sufficient gas supply and are not putting themselves at an unacceptable risk. What constitutes an unacceptable risk will depend on the individuals' skills and experience. If they are able to carry spare gas with them, then they should do so.
    Note: if there is a problem then it could be just below the surface at a decompression stop - possibly as little as 3 metres! So it may not be necessary to do a repetitive "deep" dive without an adequate surface interval.

    To restate never put yourself at an unacceptable risk!

    6. The diver(s) find what the problem is, if possible solve it, and return to the surface to advise the boat of the nature of the problem so that any further action can be taken if necessary.

    If I want to buy a Yellow SMB, what sort should I get?

    Just go to Which Surface Marker Buoy? and it'll tell you everything you need to know

    Anything else?

    Remember that the SMB must be prominently marked with your name as a minimum and an indication of its purpose. E.g. "Howard" on one side and "Help!" on the other. Otherwise it may be difficult to tell if it is a friend in trouble or another club's diver who simply happens to own a Yellow SMB. SMB's can be marked with an indelible black pen, but be careful, some may run even when they shouldn't so perhaps test it on a small area first and then expose it to sea water.
    It should also be possible to clip it easily and quickly to a line by some means of attachment like a stainless steel clip.
     
    Matthew Moore likes this.
  2. Jenkins

    Jenkins Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

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    Good call, this is too important a topic to get "lost" in another thread.

    BK I am not going to disagree with you on this one but lets remember that may shops do not differentiate between colours when selling them. Infact reputable British Manufactuers like AP Valves manufacture and sell the bicolured ones to the UK market.

    On shallow dives I have never seen yellow being a problem but somewhere like Scapa where you have a large number of technical divers (many of who will have a prepared drop tank on the boat) it certainly is causing unnecessary confusion. Infact last time we were there a techie instructor/student nearly got a tank dropped to them by us when "practicing" yellow deployment on a 45m wreck that we had divers on
     
  3. Badknees

    Badknees Meg Pilot (retired) and Forum KGB

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    This is where good planning and team briefing comes into play.

    Always discuss with the skipper any "what if" plans.

    Tell the skipper what is expected of him and other team members or divers on the boat if a yellow blob is spotted..

    As a tech diver if i see a Yellow DSMB I'd be kitting up ready to go back down the line if help was required.

    As the artical states MARK your yellow DSMB with HELP or another such phrase to make it quite clear you are in the sh!t and need assistance.

    The procedures that then take place after the sighting of a yellow blob (DSMB) will have been planned with the boat skipper and as such acted on appropriately.

    BK
     
  4. Jenkins

    Jenkins Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

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    Yes one of our divers had briefed us that he was planning a loooong dive and was likely to need extra gas - actually he had bailed the dive early and was back on the boat but in the galley so this wasn't known to those of us who had just surfaced and were still de-kitting.

    We were getting a drop tank ready and the skipper was manouvering the boat in whilst a couple of people got their kit ready to go back in when the "other" dive boat told us on the VHF that it was just a training exercise.

    Personally the only place I have practiced "deploying" both bags is on the 6m shelf at Stoney - didn't put any air in the yellow one though and from 6m I would have been on the surface anyway before a "rescue" operation could have been mounted. Certainly IMVHO on a deep wreck which other divers are on it is just asking for confusion.
     
  5. Bobco

    Bobco Active Member

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    Good one m8, needs saying, and Bitz is a great source of information for all kinds of information on diving.
     
  6. Badknees

    Badknees Meg Pilot (retired) and Forum KGB

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    Agreed the diver in question wanted his ass smacking for one not following the breifing and to practicing an emergancy procedure without telling anyone.

    there's a time and a place.
    lol
    BK
     
  7. Jenkins

    Jenkins Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

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    He might have told someone on HIS boat but despite the virtues of VHF no one told our boat, so as we were half expecting to see a yellow from one of our divers we reacted instantly to the "situation".
     
  8. Badknees

    Badknees Meg Pilot (retired) and Forum KGB

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    As you should.
     
  9. Steppenwolf

    Steppenwolf Well-Known Member

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    I cannot recall the name of the shop which sold me the yellow DSMB (I have the bill somewhere) but he looked like a reputable dealer. He simply told me that I could go for a yellow or red one and I chose the former just to be different. I have not had problems so far when I have deployed it.

    I have never dived with advanced tech divers and don't intend to. So I guess that it is OK to stick with my current yellow DSMB.
     
  10. Jenkins

    Jenkins Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

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    Exactly. Untill manufacturers and retailers comply with what techie divers train to be the norm, newbys will continue to buy in good faith gear which they subsequently learn has a dual meaning and is not ideal for the intended use.
     
  11. Badknees

    Badknees Meg Pilot (retired) and Forum KGB

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    For what a DSMB costs mate a orange one isn't out of a GP's price range.
    Plus you to can, if the muck hits the fan tell someone on the surface by sending up a yellow blob.

    Agreed it's not written down as law that this is the case that Yellow is help, but is widely accepted as such. The more people that adopt this, then hopefully one day it will become as universally accepted as the OK hand signal.

    I'm not saying don't use your yellow DSMB just that one day you may cause confusion somewhere you are diving.
     
  12. Ian

    Ian New Member

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    I agree completely with the original article this is indeed good practise and yellow DSMBs used inappropriately could cause confusion.

    I have seen a number of articles from people from the RNLI and Coastguard (rescue pilots) which state catagorically that in a rescue situation yellow is FAR easier to see than red. For a (normal rec) diver with only one SMB, I can see this would therefore be a tempting choice. It seems unfortunate that the tec community is pushing rec divers away from a valuable rescue tool...

    Personally I am a rec diver and carry only an orange (red) DSMB. I also carry a large yellow flag for surface location, so I don't feel as much need for a yellow DSMB for that purpose. I will certainly add a yellow DSMB to my kit if I start going down the tec route, for emergency use only.

    I wonder how the present situation arose? Were red DSMBs the norm so teccies adopted yellow for emergency use? I can see that the higher vis colour makes sense in an emergency... Anyone know?

    I guess this will never be truly resolved until all training agencies teach these practises properly (PADI in particular don't) and diving retailers/manufacturers start differentiating.

    Just musings...

    Ian
     
  13. Badknees

    Badknees Meg Pilot (retired) and Forum KGB

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    just ordered some stickers from these guys for my DSMB's, they've had a good write up will let you know how i get on.

    http://www.divesigns.com/
     
  14. Jenkins

    Jenkins Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

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    Handly link, do let us know how succesfully they are stuck to a suitably battered (used) dSMB.
     
  15. O2 Steve

    O2 Steve New Member

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    Not just techies but all BSAC divers are now taught (freely nicked from the new Sports Diver Theory 3 lecture)
    "DSMB used to indicate an emergency:
    Orange/Red deployed under normal conditions
    Yellow deployment indicates a problem (Surface support to initiate emergency protocol)"

    And here is a nice comprehensive bit from BSAC on DSMB use including colours...

    http://www.bsac.org/uploads/documents/Diving_Safety/safety_talk/dsmb.pdf


    So I think we are all now singing from the same hymn sheet!
     
  16. jb2cool

    jb2cool Moderator
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    I've got some of the DiveSign's SOLAS stickers for marking my DSMB's (Why is it that i always have everything mentioned?) and they are sticking just fine. Make sure you give them a good hard rolling down with a wallpaper seam roller or similar. Mine have stayed on so far since November last year but i have only done about 30 dives since then.
     
  17. O2 Steve

    O2 Steve New Member

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    I was having a look at those the other day - well worth the outlay I think!
     
  18. GaryA

    GaryA New Member

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    BK, Had them on my DSMB for almost a year now. I applied a couple of layers aquasure to the DSMB then stuck the sign over the top. Hasn't bugged since. I think Mark has similar instructions on his web site..
     
  19. Badknees

    Badknees Meg Pilot (retired) and Forum KGB

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    Just looking back thro old post as i'm a wee bit bored so i thought i'd up date you all.

    The stickers have been top notch aplied a little aquasure as stated and they have been great no peeling or anything. top piece of kit.

    BK
     
  20. MK_Stu

    MK_Stu Member

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    Thanks AG

    Good post and important that there is a general understanding about the distinction between yellow and orange blobs.

    I am not sure the rec/tec distinction is that strong anymore: over the last couple of years I have had this discussion with instructors from BSAC, PADI, TDI and GUE and all adopted the approach in BK's post: particularly sending the yellow blob up the same line as the orange to indicate a problem.

    The problem with rec/tec distinction is that it could lead to distress signals being ignored: BK's point 2 is "Establish whether it belongs to a club member. It should have a name or identifying mark on it to indicate whom it is. "

    Why establish that it belongs to a club member? I dive with a buddy on boats with other divers who I don't know. I also use a yellow blob as a distress signal (thankfully never in anger!): so if I was with my buddy and sent up the yellow blob - would a club boat ignore me because I wasn't part of their club? What if there was a yellow and orange on the same line?

    Currently, I can see the problem with divers using yellow blobs routinely that you might start trying to rescue someone minding their own business on a a drift dive. But where a large part of the dive community recognise the yellow blob as a distress signal (and from the above posts that at least includes most of the tech world and BSAC) the possible confusion between the use of the yellow blob as a conventional SMB or a distress signal is potentially very dangerous.

    I think HELP on the yellow blob seems like a good idea (I think Hollis make a yellow oral inflate SMB with HELP printed on it) but the key must be that the yellow blob is a distress signal so there is no chance of a diver with problems being ignored.

    The yellow and orange SMB on the other hand is invaluable: I am quite indecisive and on those dives when I really can't decide if I have a problem or not up it goes and I can decide when the rescuers arrive.

    Just a thought.

    Stu (my initials are SMB as well so tend to put STU on my kit!)
     

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