Corne practises rescue skills on Kate

Rescue Diver

Corne practises rescue skills on Kate
Corne practises rescue skills on Kate

It’s taken me long enough, but I recently completed the PADI Rescue Diver course. During the Open Water course, there is emphasis on self-rescue (cramp removal, regulator recovery, and so on). The Rescue course teaches you the skills to rescue other divers, and proactively resolve problems where necessary. The Emergency First Responder course (first aid) is a pre-requisite for this course.

The theory aspect was very interesting – there’s a lot about the psychology of stress, and application to the particular environment that divers place themselves in. Unlike a mountain climber or a horse rider, a scuba diver is in an element that is hostile to human life: you can’t breathe water. So a clear head and swift action is essential, as well as resolving problems immediately when they arise. By the time you get to this level of diving, bolting to the surface when you get into difficulties is completely out of the question (not that it’s ever really an option after you get out of the swimming pool on your Open Water course!).

Kate rescues Corne (payback time!)
Kate rescues Corne (payback time!)

The practical aspect of the course involves dealing with unresponsive and panicked divers, and effecting various rescue scenarios. Kate and I practised some of these skills in the pool in preparation for her Instructors’ course. When it was her turn to be the panicked diver underwater, she displayed a level of malevolence and forethought that I hope never to experience in real life! She accidentally unclipped her own weight belt, and then yanked off my mask and removed my regulator. I was wiser the next time, and jumped onto her cylinder so that I was out of reach. Decisive action is often required in these situations. The alternative – if you’re going to get injured trying to assist – is to allow the other diver to exhaust themselves, and then perform a rescue.

There are no dives as such – you will do rescue skills as part of your dives, but many of the skills (such as the ones shown in the pictures) you will practise on the surface, in the surf zone, and on the beach. The skills can be quite strenuous. I also found it tiring to be the panicked diver for Kate to practise skills on – uses a lot of air! One thing that was immediately obvious was that it’s important to be in reasonably good shape to be a safe diver. Not being able to do things for yourself means you definitely won’t be able to help another diver.

The Rescue course is a prerequisite for Divemaster and Master Scuba Diver (and Instructor, obviously), but should also be seriously considered by divers who plan to move on into technical, cave  or deep diving. It’s a great confidence-builder, and if you’re the sort of person who finds themselves not enjoying dives (or the build up to them) because you imagine all sorts of problems arising, this is a very good course to do.

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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