Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Response to Article, "Lack of fitness spells disaster for inexperienced dive duo"

Response to article, "Lack of fitness spells disaster for inexperienced dive duo" 

#scuba #medicalhistoryquestionnaire #medicalreleaseform #refreshercourse #fitness #divetrainingmag #scubamag

The story points out several things that are true however several thing's were missed. While I agree that the diving population is getting older, and I definitely agree this population has increase physical limitations, the real issue is the missing advanced training, ongoing training, long hiatuses, longer breaks between dives AND not modifying the educational process to meet the needs of today's students and today's newest divers!

I believe that this diver's physical limitations contributed to his death, but this could have happened to him anywhere. Because it happened on a dive, the response from his son was inadequate however the diver himself failed in this responsibility as well. If divers don't acknowledge they need additional training and insist on it, who will? Logically you think that instructors and shops will but we know what they're really asking for.

My focus comes to this because as an independent scuba diving instructor I'm seeing more students that look like Glenn. With this, the industry has failed to alter their programs to match who it's current diver is today. Yes, the advanced training might have reduced the time necessary to extracate Glenn from the water, but advanced training shouldn't come as supplement to training rather be included in it. Courses should not be faster, easier, and there should never be an assumption that just because one paid for certification that one gets it.

I get that instructors and shops want to their student's to come back to take additional courses because it's a positive way to generate ongoing revenue, but if the industry is experiencing an 80% dropout rate, shortening the length of instruction and what's included in instruction illustrates how this fails it's customer base. Charge more for certification, make it more robust and thurough, and create a diver, not a card-carrying dropout statistic.

Safety is good business and common sense is a commodity that's way undervalued! I believe that medical evaluations and physicals are an individuals way to judge their physical ability to undertake a physically demanding activity like scuba but if you don't do anything with the outcome of that evaluation, is the diver any better off than not getting one? Think of medical evaluations as a factor in determining whether you should dive at all as well as should you not do certain dives.

More often than not, the medical release is a form that the student has to "get signed off" in order to go diving just like the the diver has to "get certified" in order to go diving. This concept of having to find "the way" to get what you want without the work required for it is contributed only more by a just culture of instant gratification and a demanding population.

I'm going to illustrate this concept by the one following example.

Just the other day I overheard and witnessed a student that had a hiatus of twelve years off, get a half hour of redmedial education and 45 minutes in the pool. In fact, that person was done with their refresher in less time than it took my student to try on rental equipment for his certification dive weekend. As the independent instructor that doesn't work for a dive shop, I am the fly on the wall that sees all!

I later overheard his instructor saying that he looked great in the pool. Since when does "how a diver looks in a pool" an evaluation of what he'll perform in open water? That person's buoyancy might have been more of a comfort factor of the warm, clear, and clean water of THE POOL not to mention that he only had four pounds of weight on his belt.

My rule is, after twelve or more months off from diving, the student needs at least two open water dives with an instructor before updating a logbook or reissuing a certification card. ...and if the shops out there are thinking that several hours of instruction, and several hours in the pool, and two dives is not cost effective, I can do this in a day and charge $350 for this service. Refresher courses are not a means to get back in the water, they should be the process to do so. This process must be complete!

I know of no industry that allows a twelve year hiatus and will allow a person to start up again in an hour and fifteen minutes. Would you let a surgeon operate on you; a bus driver take your kids to school; a welder on a skyscraper; or a auto mechanic to take a twelve year hiatus and feel confident in that person's abilities?

"In no field does certification alone guarantee competence. With long down times between dives, skills will degrade." --Alex Brylske

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