Cave Diver and Technical Cave Diver

A.  Purpose

  1. This Program is designed to train divers in safe cave diving and the technical utilization of EANx for cave exploration, and the use of EANx and oxygen for decompression.

B.  Prerequisites

  1. If entering through modular route, must be qualified as Introductory Cave Diver with proof of a minimum of 50 logged dives. If not qualified as introductory cave diver must have proof of 100 dives or sufficient experience doing technical dives to satisfy the instructor that the student has the ability and knowledge to continue into this level of training.
  2. To enter Technical Cave (Technical Diver) in addition to #1, student must be qualified as an EANx or Advanced EANx Diver, or equivalent experience or training as determined by the instructor
  3. Must be a minimum of 18 years of age. (Age can be waived for cause with notarized statement.)

C.  Program Content

  1. Divers already qualified as an Technical Diver need only complete the cave portion of the Program to be qualified as Technical Cave Diver. Divers taking an Air Cave Program do not need EANx training.
  2. This Program must include a minimum of 480 minutes of cave bottom time completed within at least 12 cave dives.
  3. For students already qualified as Introductory Cave Diver or Wreck Diver, this Program must include a minimum of 400 minutes of cave bottom time within a minimum of 8 cave dives.
  4. It is recommended that Instructors allow crediting of dive time only for extremely competent divers.
  5. Environmental conditions allowing, a minimum of three different caves must be included in a Cave Program.
  6. Instructors who have been authorized to teach Stage Diving have the option of performing Staged Cave Dives if they are comfortable with the abilities of the diver. All divers will be taught with a stage cylinder of bottom mix or with a stage cylinder of decompression mix if the Instructor elects not to incorporate stage dives into the Program.
  7. To complete the course within the minimum specified dives, students must have an average of 8 out of 10 points on the watermanship evaluations. With 2 or more additional dives, the student may graduate from the course with an overall average score of 6 points.
  8. Land drills:
    a. Use of lines/line arrows.
    b. Blacked out drills.
    c. Lost diver drills / broken lines / line gaps.

D. Equipment Requirements

  1. All students must be taught the concept of gas matching.
  2. All bottom mix tanks must be equipped with dual-outlet manifold valves. Independent cylinders may be used when configured as side mounts or back mounts for sump diving only.
  3. A stage decompression cylinder containing oxygen or an EAN mixture with at least 50% oxygen, and appropriately labeled. (Technical Cave Diver Program only).
  4. An optional EANx stage cylinder containing a minimum of 50 cubic feet (1,400 free liters) of gas may be used for overhead penetration at the Instructor's discretion.
  5. Two (2) Primary regulators must provide ample gas flow. One second-stage hose must be at least 5 feet (1.5 meters) in length; longer hoses are recommended.
  6. Each gas source must have its own dedicated submersible pressure gauge.
  7. A primary BCD is required. Back flotation is recommended. A backup BCD is required if the student cannot maintain buoyancy in the event of a bladder failure. If a dry suit is used, it may serve as the backup BCD.
  8. Dive tables, depth gauge and dive timer or a dive computer.
  9. Two reels: one Primary (cave) guide reel and one (cavern or gap) safety reel.
  10. One Primary light and two secondary lights (flashlight type).
  11. Three (3) line arrows.
  12. A backup cutting tool is recommended.

E. Program Limits

  1. There may be no more than 3 students per Instructor on any dives and no more than 2 students per Instructor on dives conducted to depths greater than 130 fsw (39 msw).
  2. In most cases, no dives may be conducted to depths greater than 130 fsw (39 msw). When conditions warrant it, Cave Diver Programs maybe conducted to a maximum depth of 160 fsw (48 msw), provided the students are qualified as Technical Divers or have equivalent experience of at least 25 dives to depths between 140 fsw (42 msw) and 160 fsw (48 msw).
  3. When appropriate conditions are available (i.e., depths between 130 fsw [39 msw] and 200 fsw [60 msw]), the Normoxic Trimix Program may be taught in combination with the Cave course, provided all cave dives deeper than 130 fsw (39 msw) are conducted using mixtures specified in the Normoxic Trimix Program. Qualified Normoxic Trimix Divers may be trained in caves at depths between 100 fsw (30 msw) and 200 fsw (60 msw). Qualified Trimix Divers may be trained in caves on Trimix at depths between 130 fsw (39 msw) and 260 fsw (79 msw) provided there are no alternative locations.
  4. Oxygen partial pressure may not exceed 1.40 ATA during the working portion of the dives, nor exceed 1.60 ATA during the decompression portion of the dives.
  5. For the Technical Cave Diver Program, a minimum of 6 dives must be completed using EANx with at least 23% oxygen.
  6. Decompression Gas mixtures:
    a. On non-Technical Cave Program, or with divers not certified in EANx, students may decompress using EANx mixtures with between 40 and 100% oxygen to a maximum depth of 15 fsw (4.5 msw), provided the concept of oxygen decompression is taught. Technical divers or students enrolled in the Technical Cave Program may breathe any EANx mixture or oxygen during decompression and use accelerated decompression schedules accordingly.
    b. On non-Technical cave dives or with students not qualified in EANx, the student may breathe EANx mixtures with oxygen concentrations ranging from 40% to 100% at depths not to exceed 15 fsw (4.5 msw), provided the concept of oxygen decompression is taught.
  7. All dives must be completed within both the oxygen CNS% and OTU limits.
  8.  All appropriate safety or required decompression stops must be performed.

F. Water Skills Development

  1. A confined water session must be completed before conducting any cave dives.
  2. Swim with equipment to be used in Program until comfortable with it.
  3. Divers using a quick -release on their harness or backpack must, in confined water, swim the system while the instructor disconnects the quick -release to simulate a failure. The student is to swim the system demonstrating control of buoyancy and body positioning with the quick-release disconnected for sufficient duration to satisfy the instructor that the student is capable of managing this type failure.
  4. Demonstrate an ability to respond to a single-bladder BCD failure by the two methods listed below. (Students using gear configurations that prevent accomplishment of these two skills will be required to wear a redundant BCD. Students who already have a redundant BCD or dry suit may use one of these alternates after attempting perform the methods without the use of the alternative.)
    a. Completely deflate BCD and swim while maintaining buoyancy control for at least two minutes.
    b. Completely deflate BCD, ascend safely to the surface, and remain afloat for at least three minutes.
  5. Perform a pre-dive "S" (safety) drill prior to starting dive. Check all equipment for proper function. Check equipment of each dive buddy. Ascertain each team member is familiar with use and location of dive system components.
  6. Perform an i n -water" S" (safety) d ri l l.
    a. Leak-check each team member's equipment.
    b. Breathe underwater from both / all regulators to ensure proper functioning.
    c. Perform light checks.
    d. Perform valve shutdowns combined with regulator switches, including shutting both regulators.
    e. If isolator valves are used, these are also to be closed and then re-opened.
    f. Buddies should check that all valves are back in proper position at end of drill.
    g. On a first dive with a new partner, perform a gas sharing drill.
  7. Communicate the gas turn around point in psig, and if the divers are wearing different cylinder sizes, match gas per the SRF tables or per dissimilar tank volumes.
  8. Confined or OW: Swim 60 feet (18 meters) while simulating an out-of-gas situation, then commence gas sharing via the long hose, remain at rest for three breaths, and swim for 10 minutes at a normal swim rate of approximately 75 feet (23 meters) a minute (static water swim rate).
  9. Confined or OW: Two divers 50 feet (15 meters) apart must swim along a line circuit with eyes closed not taking a breath, while slowly exhaling until they meet. Upon meeting gas sharing via the long hose combined with touch contact is to be performed until the line circuit is completed.
  10. Develop proficiency in a variety of propulsion techniques including cave frog kick, modified flutter kick, shuffle kick, and pull and  glide technique.
  11. Demonstrate proficiency in use of reels and lines.
  12. During a cave dive, at a point after turning the dive, perform a gas sharing drill exiting the cave for a reasonable distance /time. Exercise is to commence with Instructor at some point randomly selecting the out-of-gas diver, who must then go to the buddy and share gas. The out-of-gas diver is to keep the regulator in his or her mouth (leaving the airway open) but not breathe from it if at all possible. This drill is to be repeated on different dives until all students have been both a donor and a recipient of gas.
  13. On a cave dive, exit cave with eyes closed or lights off maintaining contact with buddy and dive line using touch communications.
  14. Repeat previous drill, except at some point the Instructor will choose one of the divers to simulate being out of gas. The out-of-gas diver must communicate the problem to a buddy via touch contact, and gas sharing is to be performed for a reasonable distance. Repeat this skill until all students have been both a donor and recipient of gas.
  15. Perform lost diver drills.
  16. Perform lost line drills.
  17. Demonstrate either on a cave dive or confined water the ability to drop and recover a stage cylinder. This may be the tank used as a decompression tank or an actual penetration stage cylinder.
  18. Conduct a traverse, gap and circuit dive. If conditions do not allow this possibility then it is to be simulated.
  19. It is recommended that the student attempt to exit the cave with eyes closed or lights off without the use of a line. Instructor must prevent the student from getting into a silt-out away from the line or any other adverse situation during this drill.
  20. On at least three dives, the student must simulate a regulator failure and, while swimming, shut off the valve for the primary regulator and switch to the secondary regulator. Upon completion, the diver is to turn on the valve for the primary regulator and switch back to it. A buddy should act as safety diver during this drill.
  21. On at least three (3) occasions, an out-of-gas drill must be completed without the donor being aware of whether it is a drill or a real out-of-gas situation.