As skydivers, we assume the basic and inherent risks with jumping out of an airplane. For me, the beauty of the sport is that I feel quite comfortable in my training and skills, knowing that if the need arises, I’ll be able to deal with any emergencies that may come my way. I believe — and hope! — that all skydivers feel the same way. For me, assessing these risks before each and every jump is important. Part of my ‘drills’ protocol before even entering an airplane is that I go through my emergency procedures, both in my head and physically rehearsing any actions I would take. Every year, drop zones around North America have an event called ‘Safety Day’ that helps to answer any questions and keeps participants in the mindset of dealing with skydive safety and emergencies, through education and simulation. But one can only cover so many bases …. the possibilities of what can wrong are endless. But one thing I have learned in my 19 years of the sport is that when things do go wrong, try everything and anything to deal with any problems that may arise.
Sunday was a perfect example of that scenario. Rick Epp, an old time skydiver of the drop zone and an excellent instructor, was on a jump where he deployed his canopy as normal, and part of his main snagged under the flap of his container. He initiated emergency procedures, but unfortunately, the main canopy (which is supposed to release and clear fully when ‘cut away’) entangled with his reserve parachute. The scenario was much more technical but this is the gist of the event. What saved Rick’s life in this potentially highly fatal scenario is that he fought for his life the whole time until he landed. I hope that if an emergency for me were to happen whilst skydiving (or anything in life for that matter), I would fight until the very end for my survival. Valuable lessons learned through his experience. One being that, no matter if you do everything right, things can still go wrong …. ‘Shit Happens’ so to speak.