Since the introduction of sport diving rebreathers in the mid-1990’s, to improve diving safety, there have been significant advancements in rebreather training standards and methodology. Complementing this is the introduction of the European rebreather standard EN14143, which forms part of consumer legislation within Europe that has helped establish a broader global rebreather manufacturing standard and underwater life support certification benchmark. Despite these advancements, the number of rebreather fatalities remains disproportionately high when compared to open circuit diving, with drowning being the single largest cause of death following Loss of Consciousness (LoC).
It is widely acknowledged that the use of rebreathers increases the probability of exposure to an inappropriate breathing gas, which can lead to LoC with little or no warning. If the rebreather Dive Surface Valve or Bailout Valve is not retained following LoC underwater, the immediate consequence is water aspiration and asphyxiation leading to drowning, breathing loop flooding and loss of buoyancy. As sport rebreather diving community leaders, the RTC and its members believe the specific hazard of water aspiration following LoC underwater requires to be proactively addressed. As a result, the RTC is now recommending and promoting the use of a Mouthpiece Retaining Strap (MRS) to reduce the probability of loss of airway protection following LoC underwater when using a rebreather.
Whether you are a rebreather diver, instructor, training agency or manufacturer, please support this safety initiative to help reduce the number of rebreather fatalities. For further information please follow this link to the RTC MRS Safety Guidance Notice and supporting literature.