When it comes to innovating and implementing the highest safety standards, PFI is the gold standard among all freediving companies. During the Deja Blue training camp and competition, we accommodate the specific needs of divers, making sure everyone's time in the Cayman Islands is as enjoyable as it is educational. Through it all, safety is our number one priority. We pride ourselves on being the safest freediving competition in the world.
Throughout the three weeks, students will see PFI using the most up-to-date technology when it comes to safety standards and procedures. This includes using a counterbalance system consisting of a FRS (freediver retrieval system) conceived by CEO and founder Kirk Krack in the late 1990s and developed in early 2000 to provide easy access in bringing both the diver and bottom plate up from the bottom. In an emergency situation, this system can be activated from the surface. It is used in conjunction with lanyards, timing, and a safety relay system. With safety divers at four different depth levels during each athlete's dive, a trauma doctor in the water at all times, and a safety crew that is DAN DEMP certified and trained, you can rest assured that you're in good hands while diving. PFI also has a Hyperbaric Chamber on island if needed, as well as ER and ENT doctors on call. We believe in safety first, last, and at all times.
A safe diver is a good diver. We've seen all of our athletes reach far beyond what they had imagined, and they are always amazed by how easy and comfortable the dives feel when they know an entire team has their back.
The most shallow safety is the surface safety--their job comes at the end of the dive. They ensure the diver has no issues at the surface during their initial recovery breathing and waiting period. The safety will watch the end of the dive, making sure the athlete is coming up with no signs of hypoxia. During training camp, they encourage the correct recovery breathing routine and safety protocol. During competition, the surface safeties cannot be coaches, but athletes can have a coach in the water during the dive. The safety also watches for hypoxia symptoms in other safeties as they come up and perform their own recovery breathing while preparing for the next diver.
As the diver is returning from depth and hits one third of their target depth the are met with another safety. The job of this particular safety is to understand the subtle differences within each athlete. As freedivers, we strive to dive at approximately one meter a second, but this isn't always the case. Some divers are particularly fast and some are slow. Therefore, this safety's job is to know the time of the intended dive, the depth, who the diver is, and at what depth they will be meeting the diver. For example, if a diver is completing a 60 meter dive, this level of safety must know the complete dive profile--how fast the individual dives, as well as what time and at what depth they are going to meet the athlete.
The scooter safety is the next level of safety. Dive Xtra is a proud sponsor of Deja Blue and consistently provides us with incredible new and improved products every year. The scooter safety starts when the athlete is breathing up at the surface. Typically, a scooter safety will complete an entire dive with the athlete. Because there is no energy expenditure using a scooter, the safety feels comfortable and strong enough to perform multiple deep dives in one day. As the athlete starts their dive, the scooter will descend next to them watching for signals such as a hand wave, a head shake, or bubbles released from the mouth. If there is a problem at the plate--possibly when a lanyard is caught--the safety can help if the diver needs assistance. If the athlete gives a distress signal, the safety will grab hold of the diver under the armpit keeping them close enough to assist their airway if needed and turn the scooter into high gear (which is typically 7mph underwater). This protocol gets the diver to the surface as fast as possible. Scooters can be a crazy amount of fun, too! During training camp, we encourage our athletes to take the scooters for a ride on a rig that was invented by a lead staff instructor. On a scooter, an athlete can reach deeper depths without energy fatigue. This lets them focus on techniques like equalizations at depth, grouper calling, proper head positioning, and acclimation to deeper pressure changes.
Our deepest level of safety is made up of a team of rebreathers. Kirk Krack is also trained as a Trimix diver (read more in his full bio here), and he has formed friendships with some of the best rebreathers out there. These gracious men and women volunteer throughout all Deja Blue ocean competitions. This team is as dedicated as the athletes themselves. Not only are they in charge of the athletes' safety, they also do a great job of cheering on the athletes far down in the ocean's depths.
The deep safety operates by a special inflating bag. When a diver is at or near the bottom and signaling they are in trouble and cannot complete the dive, a rebreather swims in to attach a bag to the diver's wrist. Pulling a cord inflates the bag from a CO2 can. The diver then accelerates to the surface without using any of their own energy. This deep water safety gives our athletes the confidence to explore their potential and dive deep, train hard, and have fun.