On the heels of Cayman’s worst year for water-related fatalities and presumed fatalities, a proposal is being put forward to create a non-profit organisation to formalise a ‘Dive response network’ for search, rescue, and recovery scenarios.
“There’s some really good people that help pull together an amazing volunteer effort, but it could just be a next step so that it’s proactive not reactive,” said former dive instructor and author of the proposal Kate Holden.
A veteran of three search and recovery operations in Cayman’s waters, Ms. Holden said the creation of a dive response network will help formalise Cayman’s response to water related incidents.
“It’s just making sure that the response is coordinated and managed properly, because when you have a lot of volunteers out there, it can be get pretty hairy when there are hundreds of them in the water and you don’t always know who’s out there or what they’re doing,” said Ms. Holden.
She submitted her 15-page plan to the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency review, citing 2016’s 17 water-related fatalities and presumed fatalities, as well as a projected increase in age-related dive fatalities.
“Unfortunately, if you’re over 50 years old, and particularly if you’re male, heart related incidents, which most of the dive incidents have been connected to, are higher, and therefore pose a risk,” said Ms. Holden.
Ms. Holden told Cayman 27 the Cayman Dive Response Network would seek to mitigate accidents through improved training, assist in improving response times to incidents, improve the professionalism in managing dive fatalities, and promote Cayman as a first-class dive safety destination.
“By having something like this which brings a layer of credibility, locally, it’s a local quality that we would give to divers. It’s just huge, and that’s not really happening anywhere else, certainly in the region,” said Ms. Holden.
She told Cayman 27 formalising what has traditionally been an ad-hoc volunteer response can help make Cayman’s waters a less dangerous place.
Ms. Holden’s plan was included among the recommendations in the MCA’s review of Cayman’s search and rescue capacity.
The Governor’s office told Cayman 27 it’s evaluating the proposal along with other MCA recommendations.