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PADI Rescue Diver – Part Two October 29, 2008

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log, Training.
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In part one I described the academic and pool components of the course. The Open Water portion of the PADI Rescue Diver coursetook place at Centennial Park in Barrie Ontario, in the frigid waters of Lake Simcoe on May 7, 2005. I recall that the air temperature was pleasant enough, although not warm – I’d guess around 15C. The water temperature was another thing altogether at about 4C on the bottom and 5C on the surface.

This was my first cold water dive in 19 years. I still had my wet suit, gloves and booties from that dive in 1986, and struggled to put them on. Months later I saw in my log book that I weighed 160 pounds back then, compared to the 175 or so I was carrying at the time. It was tight – even the gloves. It kept me reasonably warm, though, although my toes were numb for half an hour after we finished.

The first dive was two simulations – a diver with a cut, and an out-of-air emergency. It took about 10 minutes altogether. We went straight into a tired, then panicked, diver on the surface. Now the point of this exercise is to avoid letting the panicked diver try to climb on top of you. If he does, you submerge and he is supposed to let you go because he doesn’t want to sink. However, in the simulation, the diver has a BC full of air. The guy who was supposed to be panicking went for me, so I dutifully submerged. He then grabbed my leg and held on, so I was hanging upside down. This is where the appropriate simulation ended, as this wouldn’t happen in real life. I pried my foot away with the other one, came up behind him, and further inflated his already well-filled BC.

However I didn’t inflate my own early enough, and thoroughly exhausted myself keeping on the surface. I suppose it was the stress of getting away from him that made me forget. My weight belt was also too heavy by about 5 pounds. Once I had him secured I inflated my own vest and relaxed trying to catch my breath. I let him tow me back to shore, and at lunch he disingenuously claimed he rescued me. You can tell I’m still pissed off. That’s why the rescue diver course advises not to make a big thing of someone’s mistake, but to have a quiet talk with them about it. It’s so they don’t write about you in their blog years later, that’s why.

Dive 3 was a very long search for a weight belt, which was standing in for a lost diver. The visibility was horrible and worse still with divers kicking up mud on the bottom. I’ve got to say that my buoyancy skills in a full wet suit and freezing cold water weren’t up to snuff at the time. We tried lining up along a rope but couldn’t see one another, and eventually found it with a circular pattern search. It was more of a recovery dive than a rescue by that time.

The last dive was a non-breathing no-pulse diver on the surface. I think we did OK on that on, simulating CPR and so forth.  The whole thing lasted 1 hour and 50 minutes and we were very glad to exit the water. The biggest thing I learned from the experience was to get myself in better aerobic shape. I didn’t like being totally out of breath. The other thing I learned was to check rental equipment properly. The shop had rented me a reg with a damaged mouthpiece. It had been bitten through, and was hard to hold in my mouth. I dove most of the course using the backup second stage.

It would be 5 months before I dove again. I missed the entire summer of diving in Ontario, but that was the last time  I’d do that.

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