Training agencies, which one? That is the question most potential technical divers are faced with at some point. Hopefully this summary of some of the agencies will go some way in helping you make a more informed decision. It is not aimed at high lighting any particular agency, or swaying the reader towards one or the other. It is simply a list of some of the choices out there. Dave Ross, the co-author, and I both sincerely hope it will help put you on the right road to gaining a good technical diving education. As Dave will point out next week there are no short cuts when it comes to training, don’t look for them
As new agencies come to light, or old introduce technical programs we will update the listings. Please feel free to keep us updated on what’s happening within your particular agency training wise.
I would like to take this opportunity to point out, what I feel to be an important aspect of selection. When making your individual choice on which way to go, look at the Instructor. The training agency can only set in place the structure from which the Instructor works. The most important element is, and will always remain the Instructor.
Founded by Ed Betts as American Nitrox Divers Inc. in 1989, ANDI grew to become American Nitrox Divers International by 1993 and is now operating worldwide. Distinguishable somewhat by their preferred use of the term SafeAir to represent nitrox, they provide recreational training as Limited SafeAir User ( 32% & 36% only ), and as Complete SafeAir User ( mixes up to 50% ).
Technical training is in three levels. Technical SafeAir User and Extended Range Exploration Diver to 50m and 58m respectively, and Trimix Exploration Diver to 100m. Semi closed and fully closed rebreather, plus Technician and Gas Blender programs are all part of their diver level curriculum. Information at: www.andihq.com
Besides diver education, Global Underwater Explorers channels significant effort into aquatic research, exploration, and to conservation issues. Formed at the end of the nineties and presided over by cave explorer Jarrod Jablonski, their training is built around the Doing It Right system, operating on the premise that the underwater enthusiast will maximize their enjoyment and safety via dedication to skill proficiency, fitness, team diving principles and the right equipment for the job.
Fundamentals of DIR’ opens their training, and orients to the philosophy and procedures involved in the system, while Tech 1,2 & 3 and Cave 1,2 & 3 lead a diver through the higher levels. They are also the only agency providing training on the Halcyon RB 80 semi closed rebreather. Thirty four instructors can be found worldwide. Information at: www.gue.com
Formed by Dick Rukowski in 1985; originally as the IAND (International Association of Nitrox Divers). The former dive supervisor of the NOAA used the association to introduce Nitrox to the recreational community.
In 1992 after a slow start the agency brought in cave explorer Tom Mount to take up the reins. He quickly expanded it to include all aspects of technical diving, from this point it quickly grow to become the IANTD (International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers. In doing this he brought a whole new curriculum of advanced level diving to the recreational community.
IANTD now offers Nitrox at the advanced and technical level. Trimix training starts with Normoxic and carries on to full Trimix with training to 79m. A full range of rebreather courses are also offered, as well as both wreck and cave courses for the overhead enthusiast. These are complimented with a full range of gas blending and technician programs. For more information contact: www.iantd.com
NAUI Tec was launched in 1997 and is directed by Timothy O’Leary. Their training structure covers the Decompression Techniques Diver and Extended Range Diver, which are air/nitrox programs to 55m. These are followed by Trimix I and Trimix II which cover depths towards maximums of 91m. Technical Wreck diver addresses penetration techniques and both semi and fully closed rebreather programs are in place. Amongst the NAUI advisory board are a range of characters from technical diving’s historic past, such as Capt. Billy Deans, Hal Watts and Terrence Tysall, in addition to some of the pioneers modern of decompression research, of the caliber of Bruce Wienke and Bill Hamilton. Find out more at www.nauitec.com
PADI itself needs very little introduction. Their move from traditional recreational diving has been in association with one of their corporate affiliates, DSAT, beginning with the very successful Enriched Air Diver course, covering the regular no-decompression diving range. The Semi-closed rebreather programs for the Draeger Dolphin and Ray also fall into this category. Most recently they entered the full technical arena with the DSAT Tec Deep Diver course, which covers air/nitrox based decompression diving to50m and with the well supported DSAT Gas Blender program. Details at: www.padi.com
1993 brought Bret Gilliam and Mitch Skaggs together to create Technical Diving International. TDI quickly took its place as one of the largest training agencies offering advanced level programs.
Among its many achievements TDI can boast of developing one of the first comprehensive Insurance plans for Instructors teaching technical diving. Its courses are easy to follow advanced nitrox and Decompression Procedures is followed by extended range. The mixed gas training has two levels Intermediate and then advanced Trimix. Overhead training is covered by the advanced wreck and cave courses. There is also Rebreather training Gas blending and technician courses available.
For further details contact: www.tdisdi.com