Setting up an Emergency SMB

Marking up an Emergency SMB


There is a standard protocol in tech diving for certain DSMB colours to be used for notifying surface support (land or shore based) of whether life is peachy or if help is needed. In Europe Orange /Red is good and Yellow means assistance. A lot of USA operations are reversed. It doesn’t really matter to me as long as the protocol is pre-agreed with surface support beforehand and everyone knows what’s expected.


Configuring the Orange should be easy. Choose a DSMB as per our video here on choosing and launching an SMB, and then for the Orange or non emergency, write your name on it.


For the emergency there are a couple of things you can do to make your life easier and reduce launch time and stress levels in case of emergency.

  1. Write your name and help on the top – both sides of the SMB


  1. Cable tie a wetnote as per the illustration to the top. Make sure its secure. A piece of duct tape over the top of the wetnote through which the hole is punched adds a lot of strength.


  1. Note gases that you most commonly use and that the skipper or you have got made up as either drop sets or ready for a diver to bring down.


  1. Make sure the skipper and surface support is briefed on checking the note if they see a yellow SMB and that they are setup and capable of responding as requested


  1. The ‘other’ section is for you to write anything extra you need. If you have one of those clear pockets on the smb, stick a pencil in it so you don’t need to look for that when deploying.


The Keep it Simple principle applies.


Least number of actions, performed simply is best. That’s why you don’t pre tie the smb to a reel or spool – in case you have to take off one and put on the other or take off and send up an existing line.


Let us know any questions or subscribe to our newsletter for more tips here.




Matt Jevon, M.Sc. F.IoD is a Full Expedition level Trimix and Cave instructor on OC and CCR with TDI and ANDI. He is the JJ-CCR and Divesoft Liberty Sidemount instructor and dealer for Ireland. Matt’s personal diving has included cave exploration in the Philippines, wreck projects in Croatia and Ireland as well as being one of the inaugural dirty dozen in Truk! Matt has held accreditations as an interdisciplinary sports scientist, sports psychologist with BASES and was a British Olympic Registered Strength and Conditioning Coach and invitee on the Olympic Psychology Advisory Group. Matt works in high performance business as a board advisor and non-exec, high performance sport and is a partner in South West Technical Diving in Ireland. and writes the Facebook page Psychological Skills for Diving


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