We’ve updated our Expeditions section to include mini and solo Fruits expeditions, currently it includes Madam J’s solo trip to SXM, Marc AuMarc and Andres’s trip to the NY Aquarium and Madam J and Marc’s trip to the Seattle Aquarium.
We just posted about our mini-expedition to the Seattle Aquarium, including plenty of photos from the trip. We saw an octopus being fed and learned a lot about the sea life of the Pacific Northwest. Definitely check it out.
Madam J reporting in on completion of my primary mission here in St. Martin: to become an official Rescue Diver. Rescue Diver courses require an Emergency Responder course to be taken beforehand, but I was able to study both with instructors Chris and Sally Davies at Octopus Diving. I crammed like mad for 4 days at home, then arrived here on 3/10/09. I continued to study the Emergency Responder and Rescue Diver books, and through the next few days Chris went over the Emergency Responder knowledge reviews and skills with me: artificial respiration and chest compressions (CPR), how to maintain a patient’s lifeline through Basic Life Support and primary care, the use of barriers, how to assess emergency situations, how to recognize and provide primary emergency care for cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, stroke, shock, spinal cord injuries, serious bleeding, and tons more. I became quite close with Rescusi Annie, a rescue doll used to practice skills. Chris also created various emergency scenarios where I’d come in, stop, assess the situation, decide if it was safe to approach, and then develop and deploy a correct plan of action based on what I observed and discovered through primary assessment. After an intense schedule of classes and reviews, I took and passed my Emergency Responder Exam. Whoo!
Then we began knowledge reviews for Rescue Diver, and Chris quizzed me verbally about the correct procedures for various scenarios: tired diver on surface, panicked diver on surface, unresponsive diver underwater, injuries from marine life like jellyfish, sea urchins, sharks, and many more. On 3/12/09 Chris and JP took me out in the boat to Creole Rock and Petit Plage for intense, hands-on training sessions! We did self-rescue techniques first, and then we moved on to victim scenarios. JP made a superb victim, particularly shining in the “tired diver” situations, as he was in fact quite worn out from the night before. Very method. I learned and practiced non-swimming assists, like extension, reach, and throwing assists, and in-water rescue techniques and assists for tired divers on the surface, the correct ways to control and assist active and passive panicked divers on the surface, how to escape from a panicked diver and regain control, how to recognize an unresponsive diver underwater and how to assist them. I also practiced what I found to be the most exhausting and physically demanding skill: the missing unresponsive diver. This rescue scenario involves every single skill you use when a diver is missing, from assessing the situation, alerting emergency services, briefing search teams or a buddy search team, employing search patterns, locating the diver, establishing unresponsiveness at depth, making a safe, controlled emergency ascent while protecting the victim’s airway if necessary, and checking for breathing and responsiveness again on the surface after dropping weights and establishing full positive buoyancy for yourself and the victim. Then if the victim is still nonbreathing, getting someone on boat or shore to alert Emergency Services asap, then beginning rescue breaths using a pocket mask or mouth to mouth, while towing the victim as quickly as possible to shore, removing your own equipment while swimming and maintaining proper rescue breaths and an open airway. Then, when you get to shore, you must choose the best exit, give two good rescue breaths, and in 30 seconds, remove the victim’s gear and haul him through the surf and up the beach, where you begin CPR, oxygen treatment, and maintaining the lifeline until EMS arrive. It’s really hard to swim that far while towing and rescue breathing, and then the lift and drag up the beach through the surf is truly back-wrenching and frustrating, especially if the victim is bigger than you. But your adrenalin is pumping, and you find a way to make it happen, and even if, say, you keep falling on your butt as you heave the victim through the surf, you make sure the victim falls on top of you to protect their airway, and keep going.
Over the next few days I practiced my skills, studied, and nursed my sore muscles and back.
On 3/17/09 I had my final practical Rescue Diver Exam. We returned to Creole Rock and Petit Plage. This time I had two victims: JP and another Chris, who dives frequently with Octopus and volunteered to be another victim. I’d go in the bow of the boat and plug my ears, and Chris Davies would give JP and the other Chris scenarios to act out. Then I’d have to assess what was going on when the action began, and apply the proper rescue. I think my favorite scenario was the second “diving with a group when something goes wrong” situation…JP tricked me into looking away from him by motioning me to come look at something on a piece of coral. Then when I looked back at him to motion, “what, there’s nothing there,” he had begun faking that he had a dive knife stuck in his thigh, yelping realistically in pain. Immediately I began cracking up, so my mask filled with water and I cleared it as I assessed the situation and swam to his assistance. I made a safe and controlled ascent to the surface with him, applying direct pressure to the leg without moving the knife, and then conducted a primary assessment to maintain his lifeline, during which he kept whimpering like a dog with its tail caught in the door, and both of us were laughing hysterically. Since primary assessment revealed no other immediately life-threatening conditions, I alerted the boat to call EMS and prepare emergency equipment, asked JP to apply direct pressure while I towed him to the boat.
I successfully completed all rescue scenarios (though I had to repeat the last one with the beach tow), passing the practical exam! I took my written exam a few days later, and passed with a 96%. So I am now an official rescue diver!
I’ll post more updates and add photos when I get home tonight. With the rescue courses, and my work projects it was a little too crazy to update from here. So keep checking back!
You didn’t ask…we listened! Due to a complete lack of activity on the Fruits Forum, we’ve made some big updates. We’ve added 7 (seven!) new forums for different types of questions, so if you didn’t know where to ask us something, now it’s easy! If you can’t figure out which forum is most appropriate, just ask!
Madam J is on the first Fruits de Mer solo expedition! She is – at this very moment – in Saint Martin exploring charted and uncharted waters. With trusty camera, she is also now equipped with a video light. Hopefully this untested piece of gear will perform well. Expect on-location updates. I am!
As of this afternoon, Madam J is on solo expedition in St. Martin to take her rescue diver course. I am here. She took the identification guides for Fish and Creatures, but I figured I would update the Corals and Sponges section of the site. I had some nice photos, particularly of sponges. It turns out, the sponges are in the Creatures book, and the Corals book (which I do have) just has corals. Even worse, it’s really hard to tell the difference between closely-related corals! In the end, I did soldier on and create a few pages in our guide.
Ah, here we are, back to the very first expedition. Below is the fancy photo thingy. In addition to some underwater shots, you can also see us at the Butterfly Farm and the remains of Fort Louis in Marigot.
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Here are some photos from the St. Martin portion of our May 2008 expedition. Again, no strobe means not much color, except for the E.S.S. photos, of course! Extreme Shallow Snorkeling allows one to achieve vibrant color in photos without a flash due to the shallowness of the water. On a sunny day, it is often hard to tell that certain E.S.S. shots are underwater at all. Except for the fish.
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Here are a few shots from the Saba portion of our May 2008 expedition. Saba is basically a mountain jutting out of the water. One beach for part of the year only, basically no flat land and the shortest airport runway on earth. There are also great reefs which, due to their relative depth are very healthy. These photos were done before I had an underwater strobe, so there isn’t a lot of color, unfortunately, but there was a seahorse!
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Fancy photo thingy is back with some photos from Bermuda in July.
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