Basic guide and recommendations for dive centers and professionals
Boracay Scuba Diving Safety and anyone connected to the site does not guarantee the accuracy of the info provided here. As such, this scuba diving emergency action plan only serves as a reference. Our position is that dive centers should have an updated plan on hand. As for scuba divers, it is in your best interest to ask about an emergency response, among others, before choosing a dive center and engaging in any scuba diving activity.
The clear and calm waters of Boracay are often cited as one of the reasons why it is a safe diving environment. Due to its complexity, scuba diving is unique compared to many other activities. As such, handling an emergency involves far more processes.
The local hospital or private clinic can treat most common injuries that may result from scuba diving. Unfortunately, there are some severe injuries which MAY require air transport to the nearest hyperbaric chamber.
As a rule, the best way to manage or handle an emergency is to prevent one from occurring.
HOW SAFE IS SCUBA DIVING IN BORACAY?
In some places, recreational scuba divers can dive without professional supervision. After all, that is within the limits of the open water diver certification. Still, divers should avoid scuba diving in unfamiliar dive sites without a guide.
In Boracay, diving without supervision is not allowed, even for visiting professional scuba divers. In that sense, scuba diving in Boracay is relatively safer. The local dive pros not only know the underwater conditions well but also take care of all aspects of safety.
Scuba diving is not without risk. While unlikely, if an emergency does occur, then the following pages may prove invaluable.
EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN PART 1
EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN PART 2
Diving-related accidents and injuries are rare on Boracay Island. Nevertheless, operators and dive pros should ensure a safe scuba diving experience, not only during the dive but also before and after.
These flowcharts of an emergency action plan (EAP) for scuba diving accidents in Boracay are only a guide. At the end of the day, dive centers are responsible for keeping a comprehensive plan on hand. But even more than having a plan, there is a need to regularly practice rescue scenarios to keep everyone in the team sharp.
All dive centers, not only in Boracay but elsewhere in the Philippines and the world, claim to value safety. In reality, not all dive centers can back up that claim.
Caring for the safety of scuba divers is a discipline. Besides following the usual safe diving practices as well as the standards of PADI, there are ways to increase the safety net. “Practice makes perfect,” they say. So, conducting regular prevention and rescue scenarios is something dive centers should do. Furthermore, first aid and safety equipment must be available for use if needed.
In Boracay, almost all scuba diving activities are boat dives. While some dive centers use speedboats, most others use the much slower pump boats with outriggers. Even if it takes speedboats less than five minutes to reach the shore, a lot could and should be done in a real emergency situation. As such, communication devices must be available to activate EMS, besides first aid kits and other equipment.
Taking safety to the next level, one great thing that can be done is to bring oxygen onboard. The risk of decompression sickness (DCS) is small, but it is still a risk. It can happen to anyone at any time regardless of dive profile. Administering 100% oxygen is one of the things that needs to be done in a scuba diving accident, so having one onboard may help alleviate or manage the symptoms sooner rather than later – in which case, DCS could worsen.
As mentioned, the Boracay Scuba Diving Emergency Action Plan is only a guide. Dive professionals and dive centers must have a more comprehensive plan on hand.
For convenience, here is the PDF version, updated as of June 16, 2017.