A few days ago my amphibian friend Mark shared with me some comments about a recent diving accident which left 10 divers sick an one Russian diver dead in the Maldives (read article).
I do not wish to examine the how's and why's of this particular accident but, reading about this tragedy, has made me think once again about what I personally see as the importance of diving with a "solo" mentality.
By saying this I am not recommending solo diving, which is a personal choice, but I believe too many times accidents and fatalities in diving could have been avoided if a "solo" diver mentality and approach had been used over the "sheep" diver mentality and approach.
I have been diving at resort where the local diving operation personnel, in their eagerness to provide good service, assemble and disassemble gear, turn on air etc. leaving you to perform the recommended buddy check with, in many cases, a buddy you are meeting for the first time and of whom you have absolutely no idea about diving skills, mental and physical fitness or level of care about others' health and safety.
By trusting others, many of us often forget all about the only ultimate safety check.... the one only each of us can conduct on our own air, gear set up, mental and physical condition at the time of the dive.
This is what I mean by "solo" diver mentality approach. Check your own gear thoroughly, check your own air thoroughly, go through safety procedures mentally by yourself, carry your own spares including spare air, be trained and prepared in first aid and self-rescue. Ultimately the only true responsibility for your safe diving is yours!
Interaction and checks with a buddy, in my view, should only be an additional level of safety checks to complement one's own thorough self pre-dive and during the dive checks.