Ted Atkins – Oxygen cylinder advice

I’ve had an email from my friend Ted Atkins from Top-Out Oxygeneering regarding an accident he had with a cylinder and a Poisk regulator. Ted is one of the most experienced and respected people in the world in the field of mountaineering and supplementary oxygen systems. Here is his typically robust and honest account of the accident, and very good advice too.

“News travels fast of an accident and I would like to explain the facts as we know them today. I was injured testing a Poisk regulator in conjunction with a new Summit cylinder yesterday. I chose to use the new cylinder because it was a new introduction to climbers and it is delivered as being higher pressure than the Poisk cylinders.

The regulator that failed was not an old style nor was it the newest style. As I fastened it onto the cylinder there was an explosion. I had pieces from the gauge embedded in my neck (I am grateful to Kaju from Asian Trekking for taking this out with a pair of pliers).

Neil Greenwood of Summit Oxygen has been on the phone to me and we are trying to determine exactly what went wrong. Meantime I have sold a number of these cylinders and feel obliged to inform all of a potential problem. I recommend 3 specific precautions at this stage:

· Wear ski goggles when changing the regs
· Wear gloves
· Put the cylinder onto the regulator keeping the regulator in the same plane with the gauge pointing at the ground

It could be that this was simply a ‘one off’ defective regulator, but I have fitted so many in my time and this is a first for me and the first I have heard of. I was VERY lucky to get away with the level of injury I received so until this situation is resolved PLEASE observe the precautions I have listed. These precautions would actually be good practice in all cases involving regulator changes and I urge you to disseminate this information.”