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The PADI Rescue Diver Course October 27, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Training.
Tags: , , , , , ,

The winter was barely over when I starting looking for a shop in my area where I could take the course. I walked into the shop I’m with now, Colt Creek Diving, and was scared off by one of the staff. I went to the other shop in Newmarket (one town away), called the Dive Shop, and didn’t get a great feeling about them either, so I ended up with an outfit called Scuba 2000 in Richmond Hill Ontario. It was a bit further away (still is, actually) but it seemed well equipped and competent.

My instructor, Greg Vaysman, did a decent job in the classroom. There were about 8 in the class – all from different walks of life. The Canadian military involvement in Afghanistan was a hot topic in the upcoming election in Canada. One young woman, who was in the Canadian Army and looking forward to going to Afghanistan shortly, summed up her opinion on politics as follows: “I don’t have an opinion because the army didn’t issue me one”. One guy had more than a thousand dives under his belt, but I had just over 80.

One of the nice things about Scuba 2000 was that they had their own pool (I’ll mention the not-so-nice things about them in a later post). It wasn’t very big which made the scenarios more difficult but we did the best with what we had. The panicked diver on the surface exercise was fun. We were taught that a panicked diver is a grave danger to himself and the others around him, and will climb on top of you if given the chance. We took turns being the victim and the rescuer, and my counterpart was a fairly petite woman.  When my turn came to panic, I flailed my arms around and when she got close, climbed up on her shoulders, pushing her underwater. She descended, coming up behind me as she was trained to do, but my flailing arms caught her regulator hose and pulled it out of her mouth, and she didn’t manage to get it back. After a while I decided to “calm down” but I think it was a lot harder than she thought it would be.

Another scenario was the unconscious diver underwater, the scenario had us on shore (i.e. the edge of the pool) when a student walked up and said her brother wasn’t back from his dive, then started to get irrational. There were two of us handling the scenario, and we decided to go in. My new buddy (the 1000+ dives guy) entered the water as fast as he could (an error in my mind,  I was trying to do at least an abbreviated buddy check – you don’t want the rescuers to become victims themselves). In the water about 30 seconds before me, he found a tired diver on the surface and brought him back. Meanwhile I “located” the unconscious diver on the bottom and brought him back to the surface. So my buddy in his haste forgot to rescue the diver who needed help the most.

Part of the sales pitch of the Rescue Diver course is about growth as a human being when you take responsibility for others. I didn’t find it that way. I think the problem is that while you train in rescue techniques, everything is simulated. I found the Divemaster internship (which is optional, you can do a Divemaster course without it) the most satisfying in that regard, as you work with real student who have real problems, and are expected to handle it properly.



1. Jeff - October 27, 2008

I couldn’t agree with you more about the Rescue versus Divemaster course.

How many divers who are “Rescue Certified” just freeze up in an emergency? Quite a few.

It wasn’t until I took my Divemaster course and helped with Open Water classes that I actually got some hands-on real life experiences performing rescues and rescue assists.


2. deepstop - October 28, 2008

I think the problem lies not in the training but in the experience as you say. When you take your open water class, if you don’t go diving once in a while you can hardly be expected to be safe. But if you have dived a lot you probably will still be fairly good even after a long break.
Once you take the rescue course you’re done. Without more training or further experience (and having to take care of students gives you lots to practice in basic rescue, although hopefully not lifesaving techniques) it would be hard to have the confidence to take responsibility or act appropriately if you do, especially if a long time has passed since the course.
I found that the second time I took CPR & First Aid training I took in a lot more than the first time. Repetition always helps.


3. PADI Rescue Diver - Part Two « Chronicle of an older diver - October 29, 2008

[…] Rescue Diver – Part Two In part one I described the academic and pool components of the course. The Open Water portion of the PADI […]


4. Not a PADI Dry Suit Course « Chronicle of an older diver - October 31, 2008

[…] course was the reason. After the frigid waters I encountered during the open water training for Rescue Diver, I decided that I wasn’t going to last long diving in Canada in wet suits. Call me a softie but I […]


5. Not a PADI Dry Suit Course « Chronicle of an older diver - October 31, 2008

[…] course was the reason. After the frigid waters I encountered during the open water training for Rescue Diver, I decided that I wasn’t going to last long diving in Canada in wet suits. Call me a softie but I […]


6. Friday night in the pool « Chronicle of an older diver - May 25, 2009

[…] that I failed. On the 3rd try, the pretend victim climbed on the rescuer. I was not concerned as in my own rescue class this happened frequently. It looks, though, like this shouldn’t have been allowed as this […]


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