Mar 23, 2010, 12:23 PM
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Question about Tandem Fatalities

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So I'm extremely new to skydiving (started AFF January of this year) and, as the new "resident expert" in the eyes of my circle of friends, I'm frequently bombarded with questions from those who are interested in taking their first leap. So, I try and provide them with as many answers as I can and of course, safety statistics are typically high on the list of questions. Now, I know 15 fatalities a year is the average in recent years (please correct me if this is wrong), but I'm hesitant to share that with newcommers as most of those fatalities are typically experienced skydivers (again, please correct me if this is wrong). So, here's my question: does anyone have any statistics on fatalities or injuries for first-time tandem students? I would love to be able to tell those who ask that there has not been a first-time tandem fatality in many years.

Thanks in advance for the responses and please let me know if this question is misguided in any way.

Mar 23, 2010, 12:42 PM
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Re: [j_gouge] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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Your question is not misguided, but your post is in the wrong spot. The moderators will move this to Safety and Training or General. The only new threads here should be reports of actual incidents.

You can search the fatality database with the word "tandem" from a link at the top of the incident forum, and that will give you alot of information. In the US, there are usually 1-2 tandem pair fatalities per year. Injuries are different. "Minor" injuries like sprained ankles and broken legs happen a lot.

Mar 23, 2010, 3:25 PM
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Re: [SethInMI] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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In reply to:

Your question is not misguided, but your post is in the wrong spot. The moderators will move this to Safety and Training or General.

Hmm. This is Safety & Training, is it not?

O.P. Skydiving, in any form, is an extreame sport! There are risks which include DEATH! I'm a believer that anyone considering this sport should be told this and be made to understand it.

So, don't be afraid to say so. Tell them the risks and let them make up their own mind.

Mar 23, 2010, 3:41 PM
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Re: [skyjumpenfool] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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there is a risk of dying. out of around 3million jumps about 30 people die skydiving a year. that is one of the few statistics we have that whuffos can understand. not too shaby of odds.

Mar 23, 2010, 5:44 PM
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Re: [labrys] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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Quote:

If you make one jump in a year, your chance of dying is 1 in 100,000.

If you toss 1 quarter a year, your chances of having a head come up on all of your combined tosses is 50%

If you toss 5000 quarters per year, your chances of having a head come up on all of your combined tosses is 50%

The risk is independent of the number of jumps you make, all other things being equal.

All other things being equal, the risk is almost entirely dependent on the number of jumps you make. If the chances of a fatality during any given jump is 1:100,000 and if you make 2 jumps you double your chances of dying as a result of a jump since you have now made 2 of the 100,000 jumps. If you make 100,000 jumps you will have statistically assured yourself of dying that year. Of course, if you mitigate your personal chances through training, and safe practices, following BSRs, etc. Then the 1:100,000 chance becomes somewhat more remote for you. To maintain the 1:100,000 figure, someone else's chances must become a bit more certain. In that case all other things are not equal. (even then, you may die during a jump and the careless jumper may never stub his toe.) Also......if you toss a quarter you will get some heads and some tails....most likely equal numbers. If you survive 1000 jumps and you don't surivive #1001 the game is over. Sometimes the game is over after 1 jump. Just about impossible to get 1000 where you live and 1000 where you die.

Mar 23, 2010, 5:54 PM
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Re: [4201] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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I'll quote you again:

Quote:

If you make one jump in a year, your chance of dying is 1 in 100,000.

So.... there are 2 possible outcomes in your statement. You live or you die.

Sure there are variables, but the number of jumps you make only exposes you to those variables, it doesn't change your odds. I can make 1 or 1000 solo jumps with the winds under 10PMH and my odds don't change.

I have to make a bad decision like jumping with 25 complete strangers at a new DZ with an unfamiliar rig in 35MPH gusty winds to change my odds....

Which makes blanket statements like "1 in 100000" jumps will be fatal simply untrue. I can make only 1 jump and still make really bad decisions that skew the odds.

It's too complex a system to give such a simple answer.

billvon (D 16479)
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Mar 23, 2010, 6:00 PM
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Re: [labrys] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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> I can make only 1 jump and still make really bad decisions that skew the odds.

Of course. But make those exact same decisions 1000 times instead of 1 time, and the odds of you surviving are much, much lower.

Mar 23, 2010, 6:26 PM
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Re: [j_gouge] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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The statistic 1/100,000 comes from the average 30 fatalities a year which is estimated from 30fatalities/3,000,000total jumps. There are 350,000 people making 3,000,000 jumps per year which works out to be (one jumper makes 8.5 jumps per year). Averages take into account outliers. Not every jumper made 8.5 jumps per year. So not every jumper has a 1/100,000 chance of dying. It's just a average estimate of your odds per jump per year. Some people have more risk, some people have less. And there are many variables determining risk.

Mar 23, 2010, 9:06 PM
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Re: [j_gouge] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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I was recently questioning the tandem statistics myself, and emailed Bill Booth (along with Ted Strong the tandem gurus of the world)....

Here is what he sent me.

"as I remember: USPA put the solo jumper fatality rate over the last 10 years at something like one in every 80,000 - 100,000 jumps in the US. The tandem fatality rate, over the last 25 years, is around two per year in the entire world. (Or 4, depending on how you count it. Does one tandem jump count as one or two jumps? Is one tandem fatality one or two fatalities?) While I'm not sure how many tandems are made each year in the whole world, I suspect it is well over one million (or 2 million if one tandem jump is counted as two jumps.). Based on these assumptions, the tandem fatality rate is less than one per 500,000 jumps, or 5 times better than the solo rate."

Mar 23, 2010, 9:13 PM
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Re: [labrys] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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If you toss 1 quarter a year, your chances of having a head come up on all of your combined tosses is 50%

Wrong. If you toss 1 quarter a year, your chances of having a head come up on all of your combined tosses is 1 in 2 raised to the x power, 2 being the number of sides on the coin and x being the number of years that you have tossed the coin.

In reply to:

If you toss 5000 quarters per year, your chances of having a head come up on all of your combined tosses is 50%

Wrong. This answer would be 1 in 2 raised to the 5000th power.

Try taking just 5 coins and tossing them over and over until they all land on heads on the same toss. If your reasoning was correct this would happen half the time. I think you will find that it will only happen about 1 out of every 32 times.

In reply to:

The risk is independent of the number of jumps you make, all other things being equal.

Quote:

Wrong again. It has already been said up post, but all things being equal, the number of jumps one makes is the single biggest factor in the risk one takes.

Mar 23, 2010, 10:06 PM
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Re: [azureriders] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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I think what the post was referring to is that your odds are the same every jump. (Statistically based only on total fatalities vs total jumps, not taking into account everything else mentioned here)

I think he's just saying that your odds of a fatality on jump 5000 are the same as your odds were on jump 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

Mar 24, 2010, 7:24 AM
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Re: [muff528] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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In reply to:

In reply to:

Quote:

If you make one jump in a year, your chance of dying is 1 in 100,000.

If you toss 1 quarter a year, your chances of having a head come up on all of your combined tosses is 50%

If you toss 5000 quarters per year, your chances of having a head come up on all of your combined tosses is 50%

The risk is independent of the number of jumps you make, all other things being equal.

All other things being equal, the risk is almost entirely dependent on the number of jumps you make. If the chances of a fatality during any given jump is 1:100,000 and if you make 2 jumps you double your chances of dying as a result of a jump since you have now made 2 of the 100,000 jumps. If you make 100,000 jumps you will have statistically assured yourself of dying that year. Of course, if you mitigate your personal chances through training, and safe practices, following BSRs, etc. Then the 1:100,000 chance becomes somewhat more remote for you. To maintain the 1:100,000 figure, someone else's chances must become a bit more certain. In that case all other things are not equal. (even then, you may die during a jump and the careless jumper may never stub his toe.) Also......if you toss a quarter you will get some heads and some tails....most likely equal numbers. If you survive 1000 jumps and you don't surivive #1001 the game is over. Sometimes the game is over after 1 jump. Just about impossible to get 1000 where you live and 1000 where you die.

Wrong.

If some event has a chance of 1 in 100000 of occurring then the likely hood of that event happening at least once after 100000 attempts is about 63,21%.

Note: I'm not arguing that you have 1 in 100000 chance of dying on every skydive. I'm just making a point about probabilities.

Mar 24, 2010, 8:47 AM
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Re: [Arvoitus] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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In reply to:

In reply to:

In reply to:

Quote:

If you make one jump in a year, your chance of dying is 1 in 100,000.

If you toss 1 quarter a year, your chances of having a head come up on all of your combined tosses is 50%

If you toss 5000 quarters per year, your chances of having a head come up on all of your combined tosses is 50%

The risk is independent of the number of jumps you make, all other things being equal.

All other things being equal, the risk is almost entirely dependent on the number of jumps you make. If the chances of a fatality during any given jump is 1:100,000 and if you make 2 jumps you double your chances of dying as a result of a jump since you have now made 2 of the 100,000 jumps. If you make 100,000 jumps you will have statistically assured yourself of dying that year. Of course, if you mitigate your personal chances through training, and safe practices, following BSRs, etc. Then the 1:100,000 chance becomes somewhat more remote for you. To maintain the 1:100,000 figure, someone else's chances must become a bit more certain. In that case all other things are not equal. (even then, you may die during a jump and the careless jumper may never stub his toe.) Also......if you toss a quarter you will get some heads and some tails....most likely equal numbers. If you survive 1000 jumps and you don't surivive #1001 the game is over. Sometimes the game is over after 1 jump. Just about impossible to get 1000 where you live and 1000 where you die.

Wrong.

If some event has a chance of 1 in 100000 of occurring then the likely hood of that event happening at least once after 100000 attempts is about 63,21%.

Note: I'm not arguing that you have 1 in 100000 chance of dying on every skydive. I'm just making a point about probabilities.

Yes...... I worded that incorrectly for the point I was trying to make. I am focusing on the "all other things being equal" condition. If observed data shows that fatalities occur at a ratio of 1 fatality/100,000 jumps, then it is probable that at least one fatality will occur at some point before 100,000 jumps are made by any combination of jumpers......not inevitable. There may by 0 fatalities during the first 100k and 3 during the 2nd 100k and 0 again during the 3rd. What I meant to say is that if any jumper (again, all other things being equal) decides to make 2 jumps, then his chance of a fatal outcome is doubled, regardless of how many jumps he intends to make and regardless of how many jumps others make. If he intends to make 0 jumps, then his probability of dying while skydiving is reduced to 0. Also, my point about the coin-tossing correlation is that the model cannot be tested for a specific jumper since no more data can be gathered after "fatal" comes up the first time. I'm pretty sure that no one has yet survived 100,000 jumps. I hope that came out sufficiently convoluted to be able to weasel my way out of another misstatement.

(This post was edited by muff528 on Mar 24, 2010, 8:51 AM)

Mar 24, 2010, 9:07 AM
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Re: [muff528] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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You math guys are hurting my head. All other things are NOT equal anyway. Just like driving. Every time I see some idiot doing something stupid, I say to myself, 'Thanks pal, you can have my slot.' Sure, I can still have a wreck, but I'm not as likely to as they are.

Mar 24, 2010, 10:54 AM
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Re: [labrys] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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Lies, damn lies and statistics! You are ignoring the curvature of the risk assessment chart. Your first jump of the year is high risk, because you are rusty. Your second jump of the year is half as risky. Your fiftieth jump of the year is low risk, because you are current. Your five-hundredth jump of the year is high-risk, because you are exhausted and complacent.

I disagree with your logic. The same way that an insurance salesman told me the same logic. He said that he did not want to hear about one skydive per year, but would raise my rates if I made more than 50 jumps per year. Then he turned around and told me the exact opposite logic about pilots. He said that pilots who less than 50 hours per year were a high risk, but pilots who flew more than 50 hours per year were a low risk.

The deciding variable is currency. Consider that you need to make a minimum of 0 jumps per year to maintain an Exhibition Jump Rating (A CSPA rating similar to the American PRO Rating). Also remember that tandem instructors need to make a minimum of 50 jumps per year to maintain their TI ratings, and if a TI has not jumped with a student within the last 90 days, then he needs to do some refresher training.

Students grasp concepts like currency and experience instinctively. When I tell them that I started jumping 33 years ago, have made more than 6,000 jumps, including 4,000 tandems, they instinctively relax because they perceive that jumping with me is a low risk.

Rob Warner Strong Tandem Examiner CSPA Rigger Examiner

Mar 24, 2010, 2:01 PM
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Re: [j_gouge] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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All of you math geeks can criticize my math but here's what I figure:

30 skydiving fatalities per every 3 million jumps puts your chance of dying on each jump at .001%

If 30,000 people are killed each year in automobile accidents for every 3 trillion miles driven, one person will die for every 100,000,000 miles driven. So driving 1000 miles would equal a .001% chance of resulting in a fatality.

Mar 24, 2010, 3:58 PM
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Re: [j_gouge] Question about Tandem Fatalities
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Sorry, but wasn't the OP's question about tandem fatalities?

The stats for tandem deaths are much lower than those for 'sport' jumpers aren't they? It seems that the vast majority of skydiving deaths occur in situations that would not be encountered during the typical tandem jump (i.e. swooping, etc)

P.S. Does anyone know when the fatalities database gets updated? There's only 1 from 2009 listed.