CAFA Safety Protocols for Competitions and Records

Safety protocols for competitions and record events are to be observed at all CAFA regional, CAFA national competitions, and record events sanctioned and judged by CAFA.

Although not sanctioned by CAFA, it is highly recommended that all interclub competitions and records follow the same protocols.

General Protocols

  1. General Safety Precautions
    1. Emergency procedure plan appropriate to the event site is held in readiness
    2. Notify the nearest hyperbaric chamber of the event (for depth events only)
    3. Notify the nearest ambulance dispatch of the event
    4. Review and check all equipment for operation and suitability to event site
    5. Undertake a safety procedure briefing of all support and safety staff on event day
       
  2. Safety and First Aid Equipment on site shall include, but not be limited to the following:
    1. Emergency procedure plan appropriate to the event site
    2. DAN oxygen unit, or similar system
    3. First aid kit
    4. Spine-board
    5. Emergency communication device (cellular-phone, VHF, etc.)
    6. Emergency evacuation vehicle (boat, car, ambulance, etc.)
       
  3. In the event area, the following safety personnel will be on-site:
    1. Two medical persons, one of whom is the Safety Supervisor. Both hold the following certifications current to within two years:
      1. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or equivalent status, or higher
      2. Basic CPR and first aid, or higher
      3. DAN Oxygen Provider, or equivalent
         
    2. Diving Supervisor for depth competitions or records who holds the following current certifications:
      1. Recreational or technical Divemaster, or higher based on diving requirements
      2. Knowledge of the CAFA safety protocols and diving locale
      3. Basic CPR and first aid
      4. DAN Oxygen Provider, or equivalent
      5. CAFA Freediving Safety and Support Orientation
         
    3. Safety scuba divers for depth competitions who hold the following current certifications:
      1. Rescue Diver, or higher scuba certification for recreational depths no deeper than 40m
      2. Technical diving qualifications appropriate for the depths required, and deeper than 40m or requiring decompression
      3. CAFA Freediving Safety and Support Orientation
         
    4. Safety freedivers who hold the following current certifications:
      1. CAFA Freediving Safety and Support Orientation with endorsement applicable to the event
      2. Basic CPR and first aid
      3. DAN Oxygen Provider, or equivalent
         
  4. Job Description for the safety personnel:
    1. Safety Supervisor and Medical Personnel
      1. Responsible for the overall organization and safety of the waterside area
      2. Ensures necessary safety and first aid equipment is present, working and in standby condition
      3. Possesses appropriate communication device and emergency procedure plan
      4. Ensures the activation and response of the Emergency Management System (EMS) in the event of an emergency
         
    2. Diving Supervisor
      1. Ensures the safety and coordination of the scuba and freediving safety personnel
      2. Maintains proper working order and security of diving safety equipment such as:
        1. Emergency decompression and safety bottles
        2. Hang or decompression lines
           
      3. Able to assist in any in-water scuba or freediver emergency
         
    3. Safety Scuba Divers
      1. Provides a level of safety, support and judging for the competition and the competitors
      2. Acts as a buddy to in-water video or camera crew and other safety divers in the water
         
    4. Safety Freedivers
      1. Provides a level of safety, support and judging for the competition and the competitors in the shallow ascent zone from 20m to the surface
      2. Descends to depths of 15 to 20m and hangs for at least 30 seconds (depth events only)
         

Time Competitions and Records

  1. Disciplines of time competitions include the following:
    1. Static Apnea
       
  2. Areas of time competition include
    1. Warm-up area
    2. Standby zone
    3. Competition zone

    See pool diagram.

  3. Supervision
    1. Warm-up Area
      1. Each warm-up area is supervised by at least one safety freediver per six competitors
      2. In addition, competitors warming-up should have an assistant or coach to supervise any wet breath-holds of substantial duration
         
    2. Standby Zone
      1. Warm-up area safety freediver supervises the competitors
         
    3. Competition Zone
      1. One safety freediver supervises the competing athlete
         
  4. Safety Signals for time competitions and records
    1. Athlete will indicate his or her safety signals to the Competition Zone Safety Freediver
    2. A suitable signal must be agreed upon and deemed clear and distinguishable
    3. Judges have the final decision concerning acceptability of safety signals
    4. Safety signal timing is as follows:
      1. One minute before the announced performance (AP) is achieved, the signal will be given to the competitor every 30 seconds by the Safety and a distinct "OK" signal returned
      2. Upon reaching the announced performance signals will be given and returned every 15 seconds
      3. When a return signal is indistinct or not recognized, a second signal will immediately be given
      4. If the second signal is not returned, distinct or recognized then the athlete's performance is stopped and assistance given if appropriate
         

Distance Competitions and Records

  1. Disciplines of dynamic competitions and records include the following:
    1. Dynamic Apnea
    2. Dynamic Apnea without fins
       
  2. Areas of distance competition include
    1. Warm-up area
    2. Standby zone
    3. Competition zone

    See pool diagram.

  3. Supervision
    1. Warm-up area
      1. Each warm-up area will be supervised by at least one safety freediver per six competitors
      2. In addition, competitors warming-up should have an assistant or coach to supervise any wet breath-holds of substantial duration or distance
         
    2. Standby Zone
      1. The warm-up area safety freediver supervises the competitors
         
    3. Competition Zone
      1. Two safety freedivers supervise each athlete
      2. Each safety freediver has a float for the competitor to rest upon and use as a support
         
  4. Safety for distance competitions and records
    1. Safety freedivers divide the competition area into manageable sections
    2. Two safety freedivers follow the competitor, one above and one to the side of the athlete without obscuring the judge's view
    3. Competitor's kick style, speed, body position, and bubble release will be ready signs for interception
       

Depth Competitions and Records

  1. Disciplines of depth competitions and records include the following;
    1. Constant Ballast
    2. Constant Ballast without fins
    3. Variable Ballast
    4. Variable Ballast Absolute (No-Limits)
    5. Free Immersion
       
  2. Areas of depth competition include (see figure 3)
    1. Warm-up area
    2. Standby zone
    3. Competition zone

    See competition layout.

  3. Supervision
    1. Warm-up Area
      1. Each warm-up area is supervised by at least one safety freediver or scuba diver per four competitors
      2. Each warm-up area is supervised by at least one safety scuba diver at a depth of 10 to 20 meters per 10 freedivers
      3. In addition, competitors warming-up should have an assistant or coach to supervise any wet breath-holds of substantial duration or depth
         
    2. Standby Zone
      1. A standby zone safety freediver supervises the athlete
         
    3. Competition Zone
      1. Two safety freedivers supervise each competitor and accompany the athlete upon ascent from between 20m and 10m to the surface
      2. A Lanyard System is mandatory
        1. A lanyard is a line that loosely secures the freediver to the competition line, without inhibiting their descent or ascent. It is composed as follows:
          1. A carabineer without locking mechanism, big enough to easily hook to and unhook from the competition line; attached to
          2. A semi-elastic or non-elastic line from 30cm to 100cm long, of material designed not to knot, bind or wind; attached to
          3. A wrist band worn opposite to the competition wrist gauge OR a waist belt, other that the lead weight belt, either which cannot inadvertently be removed
             
      3. A Freediver Retrieval System (FRS) is employed that ascends the freediver in trouble to the surface at a minimum speed of one meter per second. This consists of a Diver Assisted (DA) system; or a Line Assisted (LA) system; or a Counter Balance (CB) system. These are as follows:
        1. Diver Assisted (DA) FRS. The DA system employs a lift bag that is attached to the freediver or the competition line by a safety scuba diver. It is attached below the freediver to ensure that the lanyard is caught upon ascent of the competition line.
          1. Must be deployable within 30 seconds and have a dedicated air source
          2. Must provide a minimum of 15kgs positive lift at depth and have a carabineer to attach it, but not secure it to the competition line

          See diagram.

        2. Line Assisted (LA) FRS. The LA system utilizes lift bags that are attached and secured directly onto the competition line where the competition line, its ballast and the freediver in trouble are lifted to the surface.
          1. Two LA systems must be available for deployment
          2. Lift bags must have the capacity to lift the bottom ballast weight plus 10%, plus 15kg
          3. The lift bags must be reliably attached to the competition line using commercially available mechanisms such as those used for mountain climbing
          4. Safety scuba divers are stationed at least 5m lower than half the competitor's announced performance depth

          See diagram.

        3. Counter Balance (CB) FRS. The CB system utilizes a weight attached to the competition line at the surface. The weight is dropped to counteract the competition line bottom ballast. (See figure 7)
          1. CB must be weighted to equal the bottom ballast weight plus 20%, plus 15kg
          2. Additional safety scuba divers are employed as secondary safety with a redundant LA system at a depth of at least 5m lower than half the competitor's announced performance

          See diagram.

      4. Each competitor is supervised by safety scuba divers:
        1. Safety divers must act as depth markers, judges and safety for competitors
        2. Should a conscious athlete require the assistance of a safety scuba diver and breathe compressed gas, he or she becomes a scuba diver and falls under the control of the safety scuba diver. The athlete must ascend with the safety scuba diver and make the required safety stops whilst continuously breathing off the scuba unit. The athlete may be relayed to shallower safety scuba divers as appropriate
        3. Should an unconscious athlete require the assistance of a safety scuba diver the athlete will promptly be relayed to the surface by the safety scuba team
        4. Spacing between safety scuba divers is such that a competitor is within visual contact of at least one safety scuba or freediver throughout the dive. When continuous visual contact cannot be maintained, safety scuba or freedivers utilize a timing and sound signal system to ensure that the competitor is continuously monitored
        5. When a Diver Assisted Freediver Retrieval System is employed, a buddy team is placed at the competitor's announced performance depth. Vertical spacing is maintained between subsequent safety scuba divers of 20m for single divers or 40m spacing between buddy teams (to a minimum shallow depth of 30m)
        6. When a Line Assisted FRS or Counter Balance FRS is utilized, a buddy team employing a LAFRS is stationed at a depth of at least 5m lower than half the competitor's announced performance for each athlete; a timing system must be maintained so that the Line Assisted FRS is swiftly initiated
        7. The following Timing System is utilized to ensure prompt initiation of the LAFRS or CBFRS:
          1. The deployment time equals the athlete's total descent and ascent distance from safety scuba diver to the maximum announced depth at a rate of 0.75 meters/second
             

          Example: Competitor's maximum depth is 75m. Safety scuba divers are at 45m. Total descent and ascent distance is 60m (2 X 30m) at 0.75m/s = 80 seconds. Therefore, if the safety scuba divers do not see the competitor ascending past them within 80 seconds they will deploy the Retrieval System

        8. Safety Signals to be used by safety divers are as follows:
          1. Three Taps: Freediver is "OK" and passing our depth upon ascent. Releases safety scuba divers below that depth from LAFRS deployment
          2. Five Taps (repeated): Diver recall; competition performances are cancelled, ascend and finish safety or deco stops
          3. 10 Continuous Taps (fast): Emergency evacuation
            1. Last bottom safety scuba divers initiate LAFRS.
               

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Updated 05 February 2004
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