Why Rescue Diver is PADI’s best course.
I have been teaching PADI courses for over 10 years now and as good practice I tend to ask people what course they have enjoyed the most as well as what can be improved on our courses.
It’s almost becoming a bit of a cliché now as most instructors will tell you that time and again divers from all over the world say that their favourite PADI course is Rescue Diver. They also say that it is the hardest, most strenuous yet most rewarding.
Why? It’s pretty simple, it’s physically demanding, it can be intensive and because you are learning the skills to save another life it’s pretty intense. Most instructors will put you through your paces so that when you are certified you are ready to use your skills. By the end of the course you are generally close to exhaustion, have had lots of fun with your instructor and fellow students and you’ll rarely sleep so well.
I remember when I had just learnt to dive, I was young(ish) and money was tight. I just wanted to dive and didn’t really have any other cares in the world and I certainly didn’t perceive diving as a dangerous sport as I’d never had any complications. I did my advance next, more because I wanted to go deeper and explore some wrecks. I didn’t really see the point or need of spending even money on additional training. After having the diving holiday of a lifetime I deciding that I wanted to make scuba diving my new career which meant I had to complete the Emergency First Response and Rescue Diver course.
Now that I am “mature” (my mates won’t necessarily agree here) and now a proud Father with thousands of dives under my weightbelt, I have seen the light and almost think that the Rescue Diver course should be mandatory for anyone who buddies up with someone under the age of 18, unless a Pro sticks with you. Looking back, if you were a new diver again would you rather be buddied with a Rescue Diver or just an Open Water Diver who couldn’t even use a dive computer?
Thankfully I have never had an emergency to deal with but I have had to use the skills I learnt when I did my Rescue course. Mostly it has all been about ‘accident prevention’. I’ve been sat on a boat on holiday with my non-work head on and looking forward to the dive. Out of the corner of my eye I’ve spotted a diver from another group who was clearly looking stressed. He was a bit fidgety, had a nervous laughter, dilated pupils and his mates who were fuelled on adrenanlin were talking up about how great this deep (30m) wreck dive was going to be which I could see put extra pressure on him to do the dive so as not to lose face.
I calmly nodded my head to motion him to come over for a quiet chat at the front of the boat. Once we got chatting I said that it could be a daunting dive if a diver was relatively inexperienced or had never done a wreck dive before. Having no previous knowledge of his experience I was trying to work out what was making him anxious. In turned out that he’d only ever done 9 dives and none of these were on a wreck and only one was below 18m. I then told him I was an instructor and would be happy to buddy up with him. I could see him hesitate because he didn’t want his mates to feel like someone was holding his hand. When I said “that you’d be doing me a favour as I don’t really have a buddy” he felt more at ease. I then quietly informed my buddy that he’d have to dive with someone else; it was well worth a beer fine though!
Once we started our descent I could see he was still nervous but was reassured by the fact I stuck to his side, maintained eye-contact and frequently asked him if he was okay. Once the wreck came in to view and we reached deck level I could see he was now totally at ease and still
I’m not saying that I saved his life or anything like that but I definitely reduced the odds of an incident. It also made me feel good about myself knowing that a fellow diver had their ‘best ever dive’.
On four occasions I’ve been sat in a bar or a boat after a dive and I’ve seen people with a beer in one hand, cigarette in another complaining about symptoms such as pins and needles in their hands. I’ve then marched them to the nearest chamber to get sorted out. The thing that all of these people had in common was; they were in their 20’s, they were experienced divers (2 were trainee Divemasters and 1 was a new instructor), they had all stayed within the limits of their computers but pushed the NDL’s and depth limits, they all smoked, had a late night, had drank caffeine before or after the dive, hadn’t drank any water and thought that they weren’t the sort of person who couldn’t get bent.
I probably have 7 or 8 other instances relating to accident prevention that I think without my training and knowledge, I’m pretty sure that I would have witnessed a serious accident by now.
So the PADI Rescue Diver course isn’t just about how to save someone’s life, it’s also about how to prevent accidents from happening. Part of the course covers self-rescue, something that most divers could benefit from at some time or another! Did you know that most divers who die from drowning still have their weightbelt on?
During the course you’ll be in and out of the water, throwing liferings as far as you can, become really familiar with yours and other divers equipment, be much better at problem solving under pressure, bringing unconscious ‘divers’ from the bottom to the surface, learning how to give mouth to mouth while towing an unconscious diver along the surface, how to get them out of the water and how to give them emergency Oxygen.
Once you’ve developed these skills it makes you much more aware of some of the potential dangers in diving which makes you a safer diver. And equally important it makes you a great buddy and makes you a more confident diver!
Oyster Diving – Master Scuba Diver Trainer
T: 0800 699 0243