Forward, by Dan Orr
President President Emeritus, Divers Alert Network (DAN) Member, Diving Industry and International Scuba Diving Halls of Fame NACD Full Cave Diver
After developing the successful diving program at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, I accepted the position of associate divesafety officer and instructional coordinator for the Academic Diving Program (ADP) at Florida State University. This was a great opportunity to expand my career in diver education and safety into the realm of scientific diving. My arrival at FSU coincided with the Academic Diving Program and FSU’s interest in expanding their support for scientific research into the underground world of water-filled caves and cave systems. Having little previous background in the art and science of cave diving, I turned to someone who did, Steve Gerrard.
Steve was on the ADP staff and was an avid and accomplished cave diving instructor, explorer, and outspoken advocate for safe cave diving. I spent hours talking with Steve about cave diving and the associated risks. Steve assured me that, although risks in cave diving do exist, they were minimal for those who were properly trained, qualified, and equipped to enter the subterranean world below the lush Florida landscape. His patience and understanding helped me to not only complete requirements as a full cave diver but allowed me to gain a true insight into how properly applied cave diving techniques can support scientific research in caves as well as how the sport of cave and cavern diving can open an entirely new and magnificently beautiful world to legions of recreational divers.
The gift of cave diving knowledge and experience he gave me was transformational, making me a much better openwater diver, educator and advocate for enjoying this aspect of the sport heretofore thought to be fraught with danger and beyond the ability of mere mortal sport divers. Nothing could be further from the truth. In analyzing recreational diving fatalities involving submerged caves around the world during my tenure with Divers Alert Network (DAN), the vast majority of recreational cave diving accidents involved those who were neither certified nor qualified in cave or cavern diving. Even those fatalities that did involve certified cave divers, it was determined that the usual root cause of their demise can be generally attributed to egregious errors in preparation or application of diving skills beyond their training or capabilities.
Now as a diving industry consultant, conducting diving safety seminars around the world, I address safety by saying, “Diving is inherently safe but can be mercilessly unforgiving of mistakes.” Knowledge is one of the key components in all aspects of safe diving. Every bit of information about diving, and especially this unique application of the sport, can provide you with valuable tools and insight that can be drawn from when making decisions about your safety or the safety of others you dive with. When I quizzed Steve Gerrard once about why the cave diving community would publish detailed analyses of cave diving accidents when they want to promote the sport, his answer was, “We do not promote cave diving, we promote safe cave diving!” This book gives you insight into the unique world of cave, cavern and cenote diving while encouraging you to always keep safety foremost in your mind.
Enjoy the read and always dive safely!