Skydiver survives 3 048m fall

2012-11-02 09:41
Cape Town - Skydiving is a thrilling adrenalin rush, but there are definite risks involved.

A Mossel Bay teenager who had completed 40 jumps, earning his A-license and qualifying him to freefall without a static line, is currently recovering in a Cape Town Hospital after being badly injured in a sky diving accident over the weekend, according to the Cape Argus.

Henco van Wyk, 17, plunged 10 000 feet (3 048m) after what is believed to have been a malfunction with his main parachute, which failed to open properly. He deployed the reserve parachute, but it allegedly got tangled with the main one.

He has suffered injuries to his back and legs, but his family are relieved that any danger to his spine had “been averted” and that he had not suffered head injuries.  According to his father, Henk van Wyk,  Henco will need to undergo more surgery to his leg but is able to communicate effectively, expressing concern about his upcoming exams.

The reports states that Henco experienced a “pilot-chute in tow malfunction” in which he had tried to release the main parachute, but the mechanism failed and the crumpled parachute would not cut away to make space for the reserve parachute. After activating the reserve, the situation is said to have worsened as the main pilot chute got entangled with his reserve parachute, causing it to partially collapse and induce a high-speed spin.

So what exactly do you do in a situation like this? According to eHow Skydiving Safety Rules, these are some of the things to keep in mind…

General Safety Procedures
-    Communicate and decide on a jump order with the people you will be jumping with.  
-    Maintain the proper distance between you and the jumper before you.
-    Listening to your instructor is the most important thing you can do.

Parachute Deployment

-    Experienced skydivers should deploy parachutes at around 600 meters (1,970 feet) or more from the ground.
-    Early deployment is vital, and before doing so you need to verify deployed parachutes within your vicinity.
-    If it appears that you’re on a collision course, don’t panic, wait until your parachute is fully deployed and then steer away from the dangerous situation with your rear-riser.

Post-Deployment and landing

-     Reckless maneuvers referred to as "hook turns" and "swoops," give divers a thrilling jolt but also increase the risk of things that can go wrong.
-    Make sure you stick to your agreed landing patterns to ensure maximum safety.
-    In windy conditions don not land in the same direction as the first person to land as you be pushed into them.

Possible ways to do deal with your parachute not opening according got wikihow...

-    In skydiving danger situations the best technique to slow your fall is the arch position – it helps to maximize your surface area by spreading yourself out.
-    Counting  from 1001 to 1003 helps gauge the timing of the opening process – if you did not feel any sort of opening shock by then  - assume that a malfunction has taken place.
-     Determine the type of malfunction and if a malfunction of your main parachute can be amended. Twisted lines can easily be dealt with while high up.
-    If not, initiate your reserve procedure.  
-    Check your altitude! Under 310m (1.000 ft) means you need to deploy the reserve without cutting away the main parachute.
-    Arch your body backwards, placing your head in your neck.
-    Practicing the reserve procedure in your mind countless times before jumping one of the wisest things a skydiver can do, as well as getting reserve parachutes checked every now and again.
-    Position yourself so that the front of your body faces the ground.
-    Arch your back and pelvis and tilt your head back like you’re trying to touch the back of your head to the back of your legs.
-    Extend your arms so that your upper arms are out to the sides, and bend your elbows at a 90 degree angle so that your lower arms and hands point forward (parallel to, and on the sides of, your head) with your palms facing down; spread your legs to shoulder width.
-    Bend your knees slightly.
-    Do NOT Lock your legs and keep your leg muscles relaxed and fall into the motion to absorb most impact. Bending your knees on impact goes a long way towards survival as it reduces the magnitude of the impact by a reported 36-fold.
-    If you’re still high up, try to direct yourself towards the best sort of landing spot as the surface on which you land has the greatest influence on your chance of survival. You usually have 1 – 3 minutes until impact.
-    Gradually sloping terrain or deep water would be ideal landing surfaces.
-    It must seem difficult to do, given the situation you’re in, but try to relax as it reduces the force of impact to your vital organs. Studies of long-fall survivors have shown that those who reported being relaxed suffered, on average, far less severe injuries than those who reported being panicked or tense.
-    Land feet first and on the balls of your feet if you can – remember to keep your feet and legs tightly together.
-    As you land try to roll as it spreads the force of the impact all over the body, instead of just into the feet and legs.
-    Try to use your arms and hands to protect your head as your body will bounce once you hit the ground.  Mortality is highest when the initial point of impact is the head.
-    Try to get medical help immediately - even if you are not visibly injured, you may have internal injuries or fractures so get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

Had any harrowing skydiving experiences, why not tell us about it in the comments section below?

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