For most of us, during the winter gives us little chance to do any diving, unless you are just brave or an idiot. Does this mean we should do nothing during these months, absolutely not! You can spend some time cleaning and maintaining your equipment and becoming more familiar with it. Another option for this time of year, is to plan a group trip to the Florida springs. If you travel down in a group, you can cut your expenses quite a bit. You don’t have to stay in a five star hotel either. For a couple hundred dollars you can hit the springs and make six to eight dives over a long weekend. Leave early Friday morning, which can put you there by mid afternoon, and making two dives on Friday. Saturday will leave you time to get in at least four more, by not making them too deep or long. Then if you are really up to it, you can make two early dives before coming back on Sunday.
After you have obtained your advanced open water, your next step should be Rescue Diver. This is a challenging class that will enhance your skills in searching for a lost diver, managing a dive emergency and maintaining scene control, and how to deal with divers in distress. You will learn how to recognize stressed divers before it becomes a true emergency. I think the hardest thing you will learn and accomplish, is bringing in an unresponsive diver, and maintaining a five second rescue breathing rate. If you ask anyone who has done this, and had to do it correctly, they will tell you it is not easy. I was a paramedic for years, and this was one of the hardest things I had to do. You will learn how to deal with the diver’s equipment and your equipment while administering rescue breathing as well. In the end, you will truly have your dive partner’s back. It is a good feeling to know that as rescue and recovery divers, you have the capability and knowledge to save one another. Again, this is a team effort.
Once you have completed your rescue diver, you have made another big step toward becoming a public safety diver.
There are still many skills that you will need to learn and master as you move forward. Depending on the certification organization you go through, you will have made another five to six dives going through this certification. I am more familiar with PADI, but most of the dive organizations are very similar in their requirements.
By the time you have completed these three certifications, you will have 15 dives under your belt, even if you do no more diving outside of class. If you truly want to become a recovery diver, by the time you complete your rescue diver, you should have at least 25 dives logged in your book. You are now on your way to the next step, public safety diver.
This course will cover topics such as drysuit, full face mask and black water diving. This course runs about 40 hours and can be pretty intense. My recommendation is to try and log 25 to 30 dives before taking this course. The experience will do you justice. You also need to make sure you are in good physical condition. This is an area that is over looked by many divers, if the truth is known. You should be able to don a mask, snorkel and fins, and then swim a mile non-stop. The better physical condition you are in, the less you are susceptible to decompression sickness and fatigue. Recovery diving can be very stressful and exhausting. If you plan to be a top notch rescue diver, you need to implement a physical conditioning program and stick to it. In my case, swimming works better than spending time in the gym. But if you are one of those who like doing your workouts in the gym, or at home or the station, that works as well. The main thing is, just do it.
We will continue to look at the aspects of recovery diving. We will also talk a little more about the public safety dive certification as well as other training you need to do, to become a good and safe rescue diver. Until next time, keep getting in more dives, build on your experience, and search out the knowledge of others. Stay safe, and we’ll see you at the bottom.