Crisis Management

Deep questions: What diving teaches us about risk

Words Caroline Roberts. Additional reporting by David Waller.

Are you prepared for the unthinkable? In a hazardous world, managers can learn from the world of scuba diving: train hard, because you’ll never get rid of risk

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Gareth Lock, founder of The Human Diver. Photo: Barbara Leatham

In 2018, Brian Bugge, a sailor in the US Navy and an experienced diver, entered the water off Hawaii on a technical training course. It was the sort of thing he’d done plenty of times before. This time, however, he hadn’t configured his breathing equipment correctly. Within minutes, his brain was starved of oxygen. Brian became hypoxic, lost consciousness and drowned.

Gareth Lock, founder of The Human Diver, which delivers risk training for diving and other high-risk activities, has worked with Brian’s widow and dive peers to make a documentary about Brian’s tragic death. It aims to highlight the true nature of risk, and how simple mistakes and everyday pressures, from family concerns to stress over schedules, can conspire to play a critical role in things going wrong.

“This was one moment, a single mistake that anybody could have made and survived,” says Gareth. “But all the negative factors came together just at the right time and created something that wasn't survivable.

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