This past weekend, I was diving again at Haigh Quarry in the 50-57 degree (F) water to complete the dives for the PADI Rescue Diver certification. The dives were great and I continue to learn a lot from some good teachers and buddies too. I completed the dives and demonstrated the skills successfully, so I’m officially a Rescue Diver now. If you’re not familiar with PADI‘s certifications, the Rescue Diver certification is intended to teach you the skills necessary to assist another diver that’s having trouble or has stopped breathing. As part of the certification, we practice:
- Searching for and bringing an unresponsive diver to the surface if they’re found on the bottom (you can’t safely just hit the “up button” and have them rocket to the surface)
- Safely assisting a panicked diver (newer divers are especially prone to freaking out the first time they lose their regulator underwater or see a big animal)
- Assisting an unresponsive diver on the surface, including providing rescue breaths for a diver that isn’t breathing
There are safe techniques for all these scenarios and safety of all parties is stressed in the course at every step of the way.
In order to complete this certification, you also have to complete the Emergency First Responder (EFR) course. The EFR course isn’t a CPR class, but instead combines techniques and steps for assessing an injured person (diver or otherwise), using an automated external defibrillator (AED), providing CPR, and providing first aid among other things. So, I’m not a paramedic, but I am much better equipped to assist someone in the event of an emergency.
There was one other thing that is worth mentioning about diving. Many of you will know that I enjoy networking with my friends and peers (those groups intentionally heavily overlap) on technical as well as non-technical topics. The community that I participate in is generally helpful, responsive, and passionate about their respective expertise areas. I continue to find a similar community surrounding scuba diving. The group of people I meet when I dive are always kind, helpful, and concerned about the safety and happiness of those around them. And it isn’t because they’re being paid to–they just are. I have yet to meet an unhappy or gruff diver. If ever there was a time for divers to be less than happy, diving in a 50-degree pond and shivering in a blustery 60-degree day with limited sunlight was the recipe for less-than-happy people. However, I found that everyone was just as happy as they are when the water is 70 degrees and the air is 85. I think they are happy because they want to be there, they want to be diving and doing exactly what they are doing. After all, if you didn’t really enjoy it, why would you subject yourself to those conditions?! Slowly but surely, I’m becoming part of the diving community as well.
Next steps in my certification journey are to complete several specialty certifications this summer including Dry Suit Diver (I mentioned the cold, right?), Search and Recovery, Underwater Navigator, and Wreck Diver. With those specialties complete, I’ll be a Master Scuba Diver, the highest non-professional certification level. As I work on those, I’ll also be starting my Divemaster training and helping out with classes from time to time. I expect the Divemaster certification will take a year or more for me to complete as I don’t have the luxury of diving every weekend, but there’s no rush. In the meantime, if we meet at a conference or chat online, be prepared to talk diving with me–I’m always ready for a good dive story!
P.S. I am putting together a group of divers to dive in Monterey Bay, California on the Saturday before OpenWorld (September 20). You don’t have to be attending OOW to join us for a dive, though many probably will be at OOW too. If you’re interested, drop me a line or comment here and I’ll add you to my growing list! If you have advice on a charter or beach that’s good diving in the area, please let me know that too.