Rescue Diver to Divemaster

July – September 2011

PADI Divemaster Journey – Part 2

Tioman Island, Malaysia

As described by PADI, the Rescue Diver course is indeed the most satisfying and rewarding course. It is quite strenuous and physically demanding and completing the requirements give a huge feeling of accomplishment. Tired diver, unconscious diver etc. are situations that call for calm response while panic diver can be quite strenuous and requires some physical overpowering.

Even being a certified rescue diver, the option to rescue others is only second to self-preservation. Only when you are confident of yourself and your capability to handle or assist in a rescue situation, must you volunteer. The course teaches you to first stop, think and then work out a course of action and act accordingly. Reacting wildly to a rush of adrenaline will only worsen the situation. During the course, I had a tough time doing the diver tow, swimming to a tired diver over 100 mts. away, checking the body vitals and then performing a tired diver tow. This includes swimming with the diver with full equipment, and performing emergency breaths either directly or with a face mask, all the way to the shore and then removing all the equipment, administering CPR and on recovery, laying the diver in a recovery position. You really have to keep your mind on the task, remember the order of tasks to be done, while being physically exhausted from the swimming and towing. The position of towing and giving breath is most important as you can easily drown the diver if your are not properly positioned.

My learning experience was quickly put to test in the next few weeks during the Divemaster training where I had to assist a tired diver from about 10 mts. down back to the surface, and then back to the boat about 100 mts. away. Though there was no requirement for emergency breaths or CPR, it was an experience of using the skills acquired in your rescue course.

The PADI Divemaster course is an extension of everything learnt in the previous certifications and a little more ‘flair’. The new version of the course from the year 2010 prescribes a set of 24 skills which has to be mastered and performed with exemplary style in PADI standards, slowly with strong emphasis on life-saving sub skills. Divemaster internships vary from dive shop to dive shop, some places insist on a 3 month stay and work, while others claim to have it done in 10 days. Essentially, its the instructors who have to take the call on the student’s skill level. If you already have completed the necessary 60 dives and are in good physical condition for the swimming and snorkelling tests, it is possible to complete the course in a week to 10 days. For me, the 40 odd days gave me the opportunity to dive to my heart’s content.

A regular day starts around 7.30 am with household chores of cleaning up of the shop floor and the sit out area. A hot cuppa coffee followed with checking mails and catching up of my essential work, mostly updates for my many clients, some new design jobs etc. The broadband in Sealantis Dive Center  is great and a deciding factor for me in choosing a dive shop and location for internship. I need unlimited access! Other divemaster chores include learning how to use the compressor to fill tanks, equipment cleaning like BCDs and regulators, logistics, and other paperwork, like the liability release forms.

The dive schedule for the day is already put up, after discussions the previous night. There are no weekends or day offs usually, unless there are no students or leisure divers, which happens once a while. Diving starts off with the ‘warm up’ exercise of hauling tanks from the jetty to the boat, along with the equipment. Everyone lends a hand wherever possible, though its the Divemaster’s responsibility to keep the head count and the logistics of tanks, equipment, food and water. Seas are usually calm that time of the year, March- September,  around mid October the seas become very choppy as the monsoons come in, and then the island effectively shuts down till around mid February. For the next month or so, I settled down to the routine of island life, no commuting, no driving and living on a beach… a scenario that comes only once in a lifetime possibly…