Manta Divers July, 2007- Rescue Diver Class
I hope you all had a wonderful 4th. If you have been perusing the website lately you will have seen our newly certified rescue divers. The decision to become a rescue diver is not one to be taken lightly. While it is rewarding as well as challenging, it carries with it the added responsibilities of caring for others. A rescue diver is someone who already has good diving skills, is aware of ways to keep him safe while diving and is now ready to step out and learn to help and care for others.
To enter the rescue diver class, a candidate must have both open water and advanced open water certifications. They must also have 20 logged dives. They start their training with the Emergency First Response (EFR) class. EFR class covers both primary care (CPR) and secondary care (first aid), as well as Automatic Electronic Defibrillator use. This class is useful for all interested people, not just divers. How many times have you witnessed or come upon an accident with injuries and felt helpless? EFR class prepares you for many situations and through hands on scenario practice, the goal being to make the steps for helping the injured automatic and comfortable. Many people are reluctant to help because they are not trained, or, tragically, they are afraid that they will make a mistake. Learners in the EFR class are reminded that “adequate care given is better than perfect care withheld.”
Once the diver completes the EFR training, the participants read their Rescue Diver manuals and watch the DVD to familiarize themselves with the class structure and the techniques for rescue they will be learning. Next, the group meets to go over the material and take their exams. The classroom sessions cover rescue techniques and first aid for divers, but much of the emphasis is on prevention and preparedness. Divers are responsible for developing a rescue plan for different diving spots, including the location of the nearest recompression chamber, emergency numbers, and the exact location of the dive site so they can guide EMS to the spot if necessary. They also prepare a first aid kit. Then it is off to the pool, where the fun really starts!
First, each skill is explained and demonstrated. Then the students practice each skill. Sprinkled in are unexpected “emergencies” which the students must respond to using the skills they have just learned. I have learned that the role of the victim is the most demanding! Brandon Cartwright, one of the students in our latest rescue diver class, is a formidable high school wrestler and football player. He clearly adapted techniques used in these sports to handle the panicked diver! He also relished playing the panicked diver himself, and the other participants quickly learned that they may be better off letting him wear himself out rather than try to subdue him! When students feel comfortable performing the various rescues and first aid, it is time to test their skill in the open water.
For this portion of the class, we went to Three Lakes, WI, on Little Fork Lake. Rescue divers were presented with various scenarios in which they were called upon to assess the situation, formulate a plan, and act to help the diver. They dealt with injuries, panicked divers, unconscious divers, and were charged with finding chronically lost “Pip” the diving pipeman. It didn’t take long for the students to realize that in any given situation, there are a variety of techniques to use and any one of them can help, and all can result in a successful rescue.
Another point that was really driven home in the open water scenarios was that preparation was key. If you are the one calling 911, will you be able to adequately communicate the situation? Will you be able to describe where you are so that the EMS can find you? Do you know where the nearest phone is? What if you have no cellular phone reception? Do you know where the pocket mask is? If you are leading the rescue, can you direct a bystander to the first aid kit? Are you able to think ahead and enlist help from whoever is around? They also learned that there is always the potential for surprise in a rescue situation. The rescuer must be on top of her game and be thinking ahead.
Students commented that they were surprised to see there were many “correct” ways to handle a rescue, but it first takes a leader to coordinate it. Tina Niemi Johnson felt that going through the scenarios helped her gain confidence in her abilities as a rescuer. She also noted that she will now look differently at other divers, checking out their gear more closely, noting their behavior, and preparing herself to act if the situation presents itself. Frank Martinelli enjoyed the challenge of rescuing a victim, applying first aid, and in general testing his mettle at running a rescue. “I’m shocked at how easy it is to use the automatic external defibrillator,” Martinelli commented.
In spite of the seriousness of the subject matter, we had a lot of laughs while learning to respond to emergencies. I feel our rescue divers are well prepared to assist a diver in distress and will be assets to any dive group. Now they are on to the next step: Divemaster!
In Other News…..
hDon’t forget, the Aqualung Breathe Free promotion ends July 31, 2007. Don’t miss out on this great deal!
hThere are only a few spots left on Manta Divers’ January, 2008 Curacao trip and the March, 2008 Grand Turk trip. Spend a week in paradise enjoying the island charm and great diving.
hJoin us August 12 at Pearl Lake for a day of diving. We will leave the shop at 6:30am and return about 4:00pm. Bring a picnic lunch.