How often do you practice?
Please read, think about and share this first of many safety articles of the year.
YOU THING YOU'RE A BADASS?
It has come to my attention that far too many people do not know their emergency procedures any where near as well as they need to. As the DZ Manager of one of the world’s largest drop zones, anytime I see someone pull too low, or have an AAD fire, I always sit them down and speak to them. Together we try to figure out how they got down there so we can be sure they know what to do differently to be certain it never happens again.
One beautiful, busy day at Skydive Perris we had two Vigil fires within an hour of each other. One of the individuals had about 100 jumps and initiated deployment at 4000’. He had a slow speed malfunction, cut away at a high enough altitude but didn’t pull his reserve before his AAD fired. The other had about 400 jumps, started his deployment at 3000’, had a pilot chute in tow, cutaway and went for his reserve but not before his AAD beat him to it.
Since both of them had initiated deployment plenty high there was no reason they should have ended up so dangerously low and still in freefall. I asked them to demonstrate their emergency procedures for me. They both did. Then I asked them to talk me through the malfunction, their thought process and show me what they did. Neither of them executed their emergency procedures correctly! They both did something different in the air than the intended emergency procedures they had just shown me! One of them “reached” before he “looked”. The other reached with one hand when his plan was to have both hands on both handles.
How is that possible? Skydiving equipment has advanced so much. The emergency procedures we have to do when faced with a malfunction are simple and easy to execute. So why is it that far too many fatalities, and more close calls than we can even count, happen because we don’t perform these procedures correctly within the time we have?
EMERGENCY PROCEDURES ARE NOT PRACTICED ENOUGH
There are a few different ways to execute emergency procedures. Each one of them will work as long as you perform it correctly and immediately. None of them take more than five seconds. In a minute you could practice your EPs 12 times. Since your life depends on it, why not take five minutes each day and go through your EPs 60 times. We dirt dive a jump for five minutes but usually don’t practice saving our lives for even 5 seconds. Do it ten times a day for 30 seconds, or five times a day each for a minute. But some where in your day find five minutes you can dedicate to practicing EPs (every day, not just jumping days) and you will have rehearsed them to the point that they are totally automatic. You’ll see a malfunction and will instinctively perform the perfect procedures without hesitation.
You want to be a Badass? Be a badass at performing your EPs.
Don’t wait until you are faced with a stressful malfunction situation to decide what you are going to do. Decide right now that if you aren’t 100% sure you have a good canopy over your head you will cut away without hesitation.
PULL AT A SAFE ALITITUDE
These three simple ideas could save your life. They’ve saved mine on more than 30 malfunctions. Please consider them and share them.