Are Rebreathers Safe?
At Rebreather Forum 3 held in 2012, statistics were presented which suggest closed circuit rebreather diving is five to ten times higher risk than open circuit scuba. Some of the statistical increase may be due to rebreathers enabling divers to attempt extreme dive profiles which are themselves inherently higher risk than dive profiles attempted on open circuit. Many experts were of the opinion a lack of experience, along with inadequate and poor quality training, has been a widespread problem in the rebreather community.
Subsequently, The Rebreather Education & Safety Association (RESA) and the Rebreather Training Council (RTC) were formed. These organizations are not training agencies; they are consortiums of rebreather manufacturers, dive training agencies, and knowledgeable individuals who have established recommendations for a student to learn how to properly use their rebreather. RESA guidelines were published in 2018 to help address findings of inadequate training and rapid progression of training that are too often apparent in dive accidents. All major training agencies have updated their training standards and policies to align with the RESA guidelines. The Combined Rebreather Industry Standards Alignment Group (CRISAG) was formed in January 2019 to allow discussions between RESA and RTC delegates, with the aim of creating harmonized standards for the training of rebreather divers. CRISAG now works closely on the process of developing ISO Standards for rebreather diver training. While it might be too early to correlate the effect of these various efforts, data compiled by DAN and presented at RF4 held 2023 suggests there has been no statistically significant improvement in rebreather diving safety in the previous 10 years.
No rebreather is foolproof, and the fact remains that compared to open circuit there is a disproportionate number of rebreather fatalities, most of which have ultimately been attributed to diver error. Your safety while diving is controlled by you, not by your rebreather. Open circuit divers must always know their SPG reading, and CCR divers must...