It’s not a matter of if, but more a matter of when you will need diving rescue skills. You’ll see the waving hand of a distress signal, the large eyes of a panic-stricken buddy, or find yourself in conditions you weren’t prepared to handle. If you dive with any regularity at all, chances are very great that someday rescue skills will be necessary. Will YOU be prepared?
I still remember my first rescue. I’d been assisting my instructor with open water class and when he finished with the last student, we decided to do some free-diving for abalone. After we’d been at it for a while, he surfaced next to me and without saying a word thrust his hand toward me. I knew something must be wrong, so I grabbed his hand and towed him to our surf mat. When he reached the flotation device he informed me he had cramps in both his legs and couldn’t swim. Using the mat to support him, I paddled us both back to the shore.
This was a simple rescue, but nonetheless an important lesson. If I hadn’t been there, he could have been in big trouble. Sometimes all that is necessary for a successful rescue is just being there for your buddy.
Since every rescue scenario is unique, so are the responses and skills needed in the event of an emergency, and a Rescue Diver Course is the best way to acquire them. All dive-related agencies offer rescue courses. They may vary by name, but all teach useful methods for response to emergency situations. Some basic rescue skills can be gained in open water class, but more time is necessary to master the techniques devoted solely to rescue expertise.
A good rescue course will take the student through almost any possible dive-emergency scenario. Situations are drilled involving the tired diver, the panic-stricken diver, missing diver, the injured or unconscious diver, and so on. How to approach a situation safely, how to surface with the affected diver properly, how to remove gear from the victim and yourself, as well as mastery of in-water rescue breathing techniques, are all emphasized. As the skills are expanded upon, different scenarios will be acted out to give the student virtual rescue dive experience. You may find some of the skills difficult, such as carrying an unconscious diver through the surf, but the practice will instill a confidence you didn’t have prior to taking the course. To complete a rescue course, basic training in CPR and first aid will also be required, knowledge that will also be useful in your daily life.?? In addition, rescue courses make you more aware of the causes and possible prevention of diving accidents, making you a much safer and valuable companion diver.
A rescue diver course should be enjoyable, as well as instructional. Even though the situations addressed are by nature very serious, using humor in the coursework can be very effective to lighten the lessons learned. An instructor friend of mine videotaped his students practicing egressing an unconscious diver through the surf. He added the Beatles tune?? "Help!"?? to the film, and it’s one of the most entertaining home video’s I’ve ever seen. Get in touch with your local dive shop or instructor as soon as you can to enroll in a rescue course. You’ll improve your own diving skills, and at the same time become a better buddy diver from the experience.??