I promise this is actually going to be Josh’s post about his experience with the PADI Rescue Diver course. But, before we get there, it’s probably best that we recap this whole scuba diving thing for a quick minute. In October 2017, we completed the PADI Discover Scuba Diving course. Josh fell in love and I was along for the new adventure ride. In April 2018, we completed our PADI Open Water Diver certifications in Key Largo, FL. Josh was smitten and I was an anxious ball of nerves that struggled but succeeded. In July 2018, we completed our PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certifications at Dutch Springs. Josh couldn’t wait to move on to the next level while I was stunned that I actually accomplished an advanced certification that in anything that required coordinated physical movements other than drinking beer and eating pizza. Satisfied with my accomplishments, I’m not planning to pursue any additional certifications other than in some specialty areas like photography, fish identification and yoga diving. But, Josh plans to “go pro” with scuba diving, which means he’ll be following the path below, starting with the Rescue Diver certification. Here’s the visual of what lays in store for him…
PADI advertises that the Rescue Diver course “prepares you to deal with dive emergencies, minor and major, using a variety of techniques. Through knowledge development and rescue exercises, you learn what to look for and how to respond. During rescue scenarios, you put into practice your knowledge and skills. Topics include: self rescue; recognizing and managing stress in other divers; emergency management and equipment; rescuing panicked divers; and rescuing unresponsive divers.” PADI also shares that “scuba divers describe the PADI Rescue Diver course as the most challenging, yet most rewarding course they’ve ever taken. Why? Because you learn to prevent and manage problems in the water, and become more confident in your skills as a diver, knowing that you can help others if needed. During the course, you learn to become a better buddy by practicing problem solving skills until they become second nature. Plus, the course is just fun – it’s serious, but still allows for lots of laughter in between the focused learning.” Before being able to complete the Rescue Diver course, I had to have a valid CPR and First Aid card. Since I let mine lapse, I worked with West Shore Scuba to take the CPR and First Aid course a few weeks before the Rescue Diver course so I’d be ready for the course.
After getting my CPR and First Aid card, we decided to take a long Labor Day weekend trip to Dutch Springs so that I could complete the Rescue Diver Certification on Saturday, 9/1/2018 and Sunday, 9/2/2018. Aside from needing to complete the Rescue Diver certification in order to eventually advance to Divemaster, I really did have a genuine interest in completing the Rescue Diver course. I wanted to be prepared to be able to help someone in case there was an emergency while we were diving. And, looking ahead, when Alexis and I end up diving by ourselves while we’re in the middle of nowhere, I want to be prepared to be able to assist her if she needs it. Going into the rescue diver, I was hoping to get some skills and knowledge to be able to help in an emergency. I ended up getting that plus a much better understanding how I handle situations.
The rescue diver course was pretty straightforward – book reading, knowledge reviews and then into the water for skills practice. The in-water skills water practice ranged from completely hilarious (trying to fish someone out of the water with a boat hook while they trying to pull you in) to the “Rescue 7” scenario which was completely exhausting. The infamous “Rescue 7” scenario required that you provide rescue breaths to an unconscious diver at the surface while towing them to help. If a situation like the one from Rescue 7 actually occurred, I really hope that my adrenaline would kick in to help because I was wore out by the end of the exercise!
I think the most important take away for me was to remember to think slowly and act quickly. The goal is to get the person out of the water as quickly as possible to get medical treatment. But, you have to think and fully understand the situation that they are in and the conditions around you before you start acting, or you’re going to be counterproductive to getting them out of the water as quickly as possible. And possibly end up in trouble yourself.
My favorite part of the rescue diver course was search and recovery. Searching for and finding the hidden container and then locating the missing diver were the highlight of the day for me.
I would strongly recommend the rescue diver course to every certified diver. Even if you don’t get everything out of the course that they hope that you will, you’re still learning pieces and skills to not only help yourself but to potentially help someone else.