Random Jottings

Fully certified in four days?

One of the 'joys' of social media is that companies use it for advertising and my do they use worrying terminology, become a certified diver in four days? Oh the rant is also triggered by the tragic deaths of three divers over the last few days.......

I really have a bug-bear about the whole 'certified diver' terminology, if you haven't guessed it's all PADI and you could argue that being an 'Advanced Diver' after a dozen or so dives is even more frightening!

My worry is based on what can happen to 'associated people' and not the diver, so the buddy who will feel morally bound to try some sort of rescue, the associated dive operation who have to deal with the adverse press and potential litigation and lastly the emergency services who have to pick up the pieces.

In my 'limited' experience of dive incidents (where I was in attendence and not heresay) that got 'nasty' there are quite a few interseting trends:-

One incident of DCS (cause PFO) after a 70m dive and problem occuring with the diver on the boat, fortunately a good outcome.

One death unknown cause but most probably ultimately drowning in 15m

Ten incidents of DCS caused by rapid ascent in 13m or less, all favourable outcomes

One incident of pulmonary oedema in 10m, a favourable outcome

So factoring out the problems cuased by an underlying medical issue it seems that most problems were encountered in shallow water by what were relatively inexperienced divers....newly certied or inexperienced?

Now if you believe in the blurb once you have sucessfully qualified as a PADI open water diver you can dive to a maximum depth of 18 m with suitable buddies etc, so in my experience plenty deep enough to do yourself a serious injury and as you can see from the above well within the normal problem range.

As to the thorny topic of buddies, in the four shallow cases the buddies were nowhere to be seen and the problems were not down to a lack of air as the divers all had plenty of air and were not approaching the fabled fifty mark, so could the buddy have stopped the bolt for the surface? Probably not as these divers came out of the water like a champagne cork and would you risk your health by hanging onto someones fin? I must say that as what I consider a responsible buddy I would follow them up, slowly and hopefully be in a position to pick up the pieces should they not keep positive buoyancy on the surface, that said I dive solo so as not to put myself in potentially awkward scenarios, a very selfish attitude but I feel happy in my own skin with the choice.

Now onto adverse press and litigation, just look at the whole Rob Stewart scenario. The truth will come out but from where I am sitting attempting three deep dives per day whilst under training on a rebreather is a recipe for disaster and that scenario unfortunately unfolded, so we are now subject to the unedifying sight of his family litigating against the dive company and dragging up all sorts of allegations. My comment would be to use a reputable company and trainer, more fool you if you don't carry out checks as to the dive experience and recent history of your trainer for tech training and also entry level qualifications.

Finally the emrgency services, at best it's a simple helivac and whisking the diver to a chamber and at worse it involves life boat launch in borderline sea conditions when divers are ill due to the sea-conditions, that would be down to poor deco procedures rather tham mal-de-mer!

So what do you do about it? The obvious answer is to plan ahead cos that's what you do when you're going diving!

Get qualified in good time and do some acclimatisation dives, not training dives. Take time on these dives to get comfortable in the water and try and put away those nagging feelings that there is a monster of the deep going to gobble you up! The monster of the deep is you and DCS and it will kill you so put it in a cage and keep the key.

Please make sure that you can swim and are confident in the water, this should help reduce issues on surface.

As I have eluded spend time checking out the recent dive history of your chosen trainer and this is relevant no matter which organisation you choose to use, some dive destinations have a lucrative business of churning out instructors from non-divers over the course of an extended holiday with Indoniesia and Gozo/Malta being two areas where I have seen this. If you want an 'Instructor' qualification for a peeing up the wall competetion then fine but don't try and teach please!!!

Going back many years it took several weeks involving swimming tests and lectures before you were set loose in a supervised setting with a set of dive gear, now you can get a crash course in a weekend and from where I am sitting it's not safe and barely ethical and in some cases akin to assisted suicide!

Dive safe



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