ARE YOU READY?
This article is about today’s crucial importance of the education and what part of it are procedures and rules in skydiving and Rigging.
“You have to be ready for every situation!”- this is a popular expression lately and it makes perfect sense. But what does it mean? It means- how do we prepare in order to be ready, what training is necessary, where do we get it, what knowledge do we need, is the training from our first jump course enough, etc. etc.? Getting these questions answered are just the start to “be ready for every situation”.
It is worth taking a minute and think about where exactly are you personally in answering these basic questions?
Obviously, it all comes down to EDUCATION! The right EDUCATION! Unless we have these questions answered, we are not “ready” to Skydive. We will get back to that one later!
In order to survive the skydive and improve we need- knowledge, skills and experience! Interestingly, in recent years, the concept of “following procedures and rules” has been pushed through Skydiving more and more and now it wrongly has been assumed as the main way of running operations and even training. “Following procedures and rules” is very important, actually it is extremely important. Following procedures and rules means that certain important things are getting done in the necessary order. This evidently ensures the safety in skydiving to a big extent. Is that enough? The answer is -NO.
“Procedure” means a series of actions are conducted in a certain order or an established or official way of doing something. It is a term coming from the mechanics, and it works well in the factories. Following procedures there ensures things are done the correct way in order a certain process to be carried out. Skydiving, Rigging, training and education are not manufacturing processes and “Procedures are just part of the education. There simply cannot be procedures that cover what will happen on every jump. Every jump is different to some extent, done by different people! Equipment checks, packing procedures, post deployment procedures etc are good examples. Also, procedures need to be altered often as situations change.
Procedures are just part of the education and should not be mistaken for good training in Skydiving and Rigging. Also, “Procedures” can change at any given time, when situation requires that, especially in emergencies.
Good education is what can prepare us to resolve a wide range of problems, while following procedures covers only a number of things that need to be done.
Unknown situations, Extreme weather conditions/phenomenon/, Unknown equipment and other factors/mostly human ones/ are important part of the education in Skydiving. The insufficient training in these areas is a reason for a big part of the serious injuries and deaths.
- Unknown situations- well they happen, and we must deal with them. It is important to know what can help us. Broken control line on deployment, 3000 ft height, no line twist, steerable canopy and the canopy turns. Do you have to cut away?
- Unusual and extreme weather conditions/phenomenon/- looks like a good idea to know how to handle strong wind gusts, turbulence, dust devils, etc. Let us say you are at 2000 ft under a good canopy and there is sudden wave of strong wind- 30-40 kts on the surface. This changes things and you have to land. What is the approach you need, can you fly your canopy backwards facing into the wind, what are the implications flying the canopy crosswind?
- Unknown equipment. What actually constitutes unknown equipment? If you do not know what is in your reserve tray- that makes it new when it’s time to use it. A good example is using RSL. After cutaway, RSL opens your reserve tray and initiates the reserve opening sequence regardless in what position you are, sometimes spinning, spinning on your back etc. Any other position than belly to earth, slightly head up is less favourable for the reserve opening.
What is the difference between untreated Spectra lines /PD reserves/ and treated/stiffer/ Spectra lines?
- Other factors/mostly human ones/- yes, very important to know how you would react when you are first time in particular situations. If you lack the necessary time and resources/knowledge/ and you are to deal with situation that you do not know how to resolve, the “freeze, fight or fly” response takes into action, and you could forget even the things you knew.
Nowadays, these factors are sometimes left outside the scope of the things considered important /” following procedures”/ in training and in operations. Again- knowledge, skills and experience is what we need, and only good education and training can provide them.
Well, if you create a system to do something- do not be surprised it does it!
It is not a big surprise these factors are important and ignoring them causes problems.
Turns out there is a huge amount that can be done, and education is very important.
“The ability to generate and then select the appropriate course of action is based on the decision maker’s “reading” of the situation—in other words, our ability to assess the situation and predict how it will evolve over the next few seconds. “The more knowledge you have on how things work- better chance of reading the situation. Knowing what is in the reserve container, what the closing sequence is, how and when the MARD works, why the RSL was invented and implemented, what the reserve pilot chute is, can affect the way we read and PERCIEVE emergency situations. These things are important and being familiar with them could save your life. In emergency, people have reacted in different way depending on how they see the situation. As a result, if you know how all the equipment works and what you have, you do not need to think much- conditioned/learned/ response generates acting. Action becomes inbuilt into your reflexes- we jump out of the way of fast approaching car before we even think about it. The same thing happens when you are driving a car- you are not constantly thinking how much input you should apply to different muscles of your limbs in order to maintain a straight line- it is all done subconsciously. You need to think only when you the situation changes, and you need to decide which way you need to turn at an intersection.
The alternative is when you do not know how equipment works in emergency situation- you execute only what you are told- pull some handles, hopefully in the right sequence. If this does not go well- you will need a lot of luck because you do not have time! And we need time to realise exactly what is happening, what the problem is, to run different simulations and to decide what course of action to take and execute it. In skydiving- we DO NOT have time. Unfortunately, the current Skydiving “Emergency procedures” education here simply fails in many aspects.
All these “Unknown situations, Extreme weather conditions/phenomenon/, Unknown equipment and other factors/mostly human/ factors” are interrelated. Education in one of them, significantly improves the overall outcome as this positively affects all other factors. Let us say we significantly take care of “Unknown equipment”, this significantly improves the skydiver’s ability to handle weather phenomenon/very important/, unknown situations/extremely important/, Human factors/increases the competence confidence loop and anxiety level/ and this improves following procedures as they are understood better.
Getting back to- “You have to be ready for every situation!”- it means that we must be prepared as much as possible for what is coming at us in skydiving. We need to know how to prevent and handle situations that have happened before and to be able to tackle even situations that have not happened to us or in general.
Unfortunately to me it looks like we were closer to the right education 30 years ago than today. The reasons for that are complex, however the education providing the necessary knowledge, needs to reflect the modern equipment we have, the already gained experience in skydiving, educational psychology etc.
Luckily, we know all this! We just need to implement what we know again!
It is every skydiver’s personal responsibility to learn how to survive after passing their student status.
Do not wait! Ask! Seek information! Learn! Request a good education, your life depends on it! Ask WHY and HOW! If whoever is teaching you, cannot explain WHY and HOW, ask someone that knows!
Where do we start?
You can start with the manuals for your parachutes and AAD!
Photos, courtesy of “Jump Dogs Display Team”