How being prepared and practiced can save lives.
As a PADI Course Director and DAN Instructor Trainer, I spend a lot of time working with instructor candidates to really flush out rescue skills. Before this, I was the head instructor for a busy dive center in Florida. In that role, it was important that all of the staff were prepared to handle some fairly sporty situations.
This video has been floating around on social media for a bit now, and I hesitated to post this article out of consideration for the divers involved, but I feel like there are great lessons to be learned for our up and coming scuba instructors out there. This real life scenario shows just how fast everything can go wrong on a dive.
As dive operators, we put thousands of divers into the water every year. Some of these divers are people we are familiar and comfortable with, but many of them are just visiting our waters for a short time. Being unfamiliar with the environment, out of practice with their skills and surrounded by people whom they do not know are all contributing factors that can start divers down the path toward panic.
Being a scuba instructor, working with divers just learning skills is where I encountered most of my panicked diver situations. When teaching, it is important that your rescue skills are sharp and fresh because student divers are relying on you to be there. As seen in the video, when things go sideways underwater, they spiral out of control quickly. The situation in the video had a very fortunate ending, the rescuer was close and responded as quickly and correctly as they could given the time they had to work with.
I have seen this scenario play out many times with students and with divers on charters all over the world. In many instances, these panicked diver situations can be avoided with a bit of awareness prior to the dive. People who are uncomfortable about the dive typically show signs long before actually being underwater.