UK: Oban and Tobermory Lifeboats in rescue of diver with suspected ‘bends’ or decompression sickness ashore on Mull – 270813 2035z

Tobermory RNLI’s volunteer crew went to the aid of a diver with suspected ‘bends’ or decompression sickness ashore on the same day that the RNLI has called on divers to help undertake research into diver safety.

Tobermory Lifeboat (Photo: RNLI)


The crew were preparing to attend the station for their weekly Tuesday night training session when their pagers went off shortly after 1830. The male diver, who had developed possible symptoms of decompression sickness having come ashore in Tobermory, was taken on to the Severn class lifeboat which launched at 1850. Tobermory lifeboat proceeded to rendezvous with Oban lifeboat in the Sound of Mull. The casualty was transferred onto Oban lifeboat which had a specialist dive doctor on board. The casualty was then taken to Oban to be transferred to the care of the Scottish Ambulance Service.


The ‘shout’ came on the same day that the RNLI called on divers the charity with research into participation and attitudes to safety in the sport by taking part in an online survey which launches today.

Last year alone, 314 diving incidents were reported to the British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC). The RNLI, in partnership with the British Diving Safety Group (BDSG), is asking divers and dive instructors in the UK to take ten minutes to complete an online survey, which looks at their reasons for participating in diving, how often they take to the water, preferred methods and locations, experience and training, awareness of possible hazards and use of safety measures. The findings will be used to help the RNLI and BDSG develop tailored and relevant safety messages for the diving community, to help make the sport even safer.

Tobermory’s full time Coxswain Andrew McHaffie said: ‘This was a timely reminder that whilst diving is a popular sport, problems can and do arise. This year alone, Tobermory RNLI has gone to the assistance of six divers. Nationally, the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews have rescued 96 divers and saved 13 divers’ lives in the past five years. The RNLI is hoping to hear from divers of all levels of experience, so we can then develop really targeted and relevant safety advice to help them enjoy their sport as safely as possible.’

The online survey will run for nine weeks, during which time anyone who dives in the UK – no matter how often or what level of experience – is invited to visit and complete the short survey. The research is being undertaken by Substance, on behalf of the RNLI. To supplement the online survey, face-to-face surveys will be conducted at dive sites, charter boat launch and departure points, and at the NEC Dive Show (Dive 2013) in October. In-depth interviews and focus groups will also be conducted. Divers wishing to take part in these are encouraged to contact Substance via the survey website.

This was Tobermory RNLI’s 33rd launch of 2013 and so far this year the volunteer crew has assisted 56 people.

Key facts about the RNLI


The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 236 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.


The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices. – RNLI


A map from the Ordnance Survey of grid reference NM at a scale of 1:250.000 (Image:


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