You don’t need the endurance of a Navy SEAL or a desire to jump into the conditions shown in The Perfect Storm to be a great rescue diver; all you need is an open water certification and the willingness to work hard to gain a new skill set. A rescue diver course won’t break you, but it will be challenging. Luckily the challenge comes with major rewards and can instill the most important skill a diver can have: the ability to save yourself or someone else. If your heart isn’t already set on taking a rescue diver course, here are a few reasons to take the plunge.
By Caitlyn Ruskell, DAN Content Writer/Editor
It will make you a better diver.
Each time you take a course to continue your education, you build upon your current diving knowledge and learn new skills that increase your comfort in the water. After entry-level training, divers are busy focusing on themselves: Monitoring gauges and maintaining perfect buoyancy aren’t second nature yet. In rescue diver courses, divers shift their focus to other divers and become significantly more situationally aware. To be able to monitor other divers underwater and successfully bring an injured diver to the surface and back to an entry point, your skills and comfort in the water must be exemplary.
Running through rescue scenarios where you must remember each step of the rescue process, tow divers a long distance, ditch gear and constantly kick up to give rescue breaths on time without dunking your “victim” is not possible if you are an unskilled diver. This training will push even the most skilled divers both mentally and physically.
The training is applicable outside of diving.
No matter which training agency your instructor represents, they will likely teach you to administer CPR, first aid and emergency oxygen in your rescue course. You may even receive some DAN training or use some of the safety equipment (such as oxygen kits) DAN disseminates. The basic life-support skills you will learn are vital for appropriately responding to scuba diving injuries, but they will also equip you to render aid anywhere you go. Whether someone is experiencing DCS on a dive boat or a cardiac emergency at a restaurant, your rescue diver training can prepare you to respond.
You will learn to save lives (maybe even your own).
Being able to self-rescue or rescue someone else when accidents happen is not an easy task, but it is one of the most significant tasks you may ever have to perform as a scuba diver. In a rescue diver course, you will learn to recognize and respond to the most common issues divers have underwater and repeatedly practice the proper response.
Many of the issues you learn to respond to in a rescue diver course are not covered thoroughly in open water courses. In fact, some students find that they learn to respond to issues they previously did not know existed. When accidents happen despite your best efforts to prevent them, you will have the skills and experience from your rescue diver training to save a life without hesitating.
If ultimately you are tasked with making a rescue, you might be risking your own safety to help another diver. The best rescues are the ones that never have to be made, so in addition to learning how to respond to accidents, you will learn how to properly assess the risks associated with diving so you can avoid or prevent the situations most likely to put divers in need of being rescued.
Making every dive accident- and injury-free doesn’t happen overnight, but one of the most rewarding ways to become a better, safer diver is to take a rescue diver course. Students and instructors both enjoy the training because the material is interesting and running through scenarios can be a fun challenge to overcome. The true value of a rescue course comes from the skills and knowledge you carry with you and employ on every dive you make after the course is over.