This is the fourth and final installment of our five-part series on becoming a proficient recreational scuba diver.
At this point you are living the life, you have done a Discover Scuba course, you’ve gone ahead and completed your Open Water Course, you changed your plane ticket, and you have become a certified Advanced Open Water diver! Not to mention you have been in this small town for a week and a half, getting to know people, and developing a social routine that is surely the envy of the guys back home.
With your Advanced Open Water certification you have learned to dive to 100 feet deep safely, you can navigate underwater with a compass, your buoyancy is up to speed, and you are learning the identification of the local underwater critters. It is obvious that you are really getting the hang of this, and are having the time of your life. What else is there?
Actually you are one step away from considering a professional certification. The next step, the most challenging and most rewarding of your certifications so far, is Rescue Diver. This course covers what should be done in the case an emergency should manifest itself. Paired with the Padi First Response course (a classic first aid and emergency preparedness course with an aquatic focus) the Rescue Diver course will teach you to handle rescue scenarios involving others, and most importantly in my opinion, what to do for yourself should an emergency occur.
In a previous existence, where the only local diving for me was the cold dark waters of the Pacific Northwest, the dive club in which I was a member would use the Rescue Certification as a minimum requirement to join on some of the more challenging dives. This was enough to get me to sign up without any over-consideration.
To get started on this certification you need to have 20 logged dives, the Advanced Open Water certification, and a First Responder/First Aid certification. The First Responder certification requirement can be covered by any current First Aid card obtained in the last two years from a qualified agency such as (but not limited to) Red Cross, or work related industrial First Aid courses. We offer Padi’s First Responder course, which will take about a day to get this prerequisite.
The Rescue Diver course covers emergency management and equipment, self-rescue, recognizing diver stress, panicked diver response, emergency water exits, in-water rescue breathing protocols, and dive accident scenarios. During the course there will be academic learning combined with in water training, while being interspersed with surprise rescue scenarios. It is a challenging, action packed certification that will boost your confidence, and prepare you for those problems we hope never arise.
As a casual observation we notice that rescue divers seem to have a different overall view of diving after this certification. The divers seem to switch from being concerned of just themselves, to a larger view of the dives they are on. They become more aware of everyone on the dive, and tolerant of difficulties, which is a good thing, and makes for divers you want to dive with.
This certification is the pinnacle in recreational diving certifications. There are countless specialties available to advance your underwater learning from diving shipwrecks and under arctic ice sheets, to basket weaving underwater!