Back at the beginning of the year in one of the Club Newsletters about individual setting and achieving personal diving objectives, Tracey Roberts one of our Staff Instructors stated hers was to become a Disability Diving Instructor and I decided to join her.
We currently train a couple of twins with Cerebral Palsy so it is a good opportunity to progress our skills and gain a better understanding of disabled diving and to assist with helping them achieve their full potential and experience what we do overtime we go diving.
Saturday saw us back for 9am (after finishing at 22:00 the night before) with most of the day spent learning about the various illness and conditions that make some one 'less abled'. As well as HSA standards and procedures. It was heart rendering at times... but we finished with a couple of hours in the pool, where it got 'interesting'.
The 3 of us had to undertake each role in a role play scenario-
Blind Diver/Paraplegic/quadriplegic and of course, the instructor.
So out comes the black out mask and the leg and arm ties!
Firstly I was the Blind Diver and Tracey was the instructor, with Denise as a Paraplegic. Very unnerving having all your trust and faith in the sighted members of the group as I giant strided into the water (with a squeal - I might add!)...hoping they had pointed me in the right direction!
All the other senses takeover as you immerse under the water and get led around.
Then as I become the, now sighted, assistant, Denise becomes a Quadriplegic... This involves the instructor doing everything for the diver and the assistant providing the stability for the diver... Although upon them completing a reg clear and the instructor (Tracey) putting he had up to 'high five' the student a well done... suddenly realising that the 'student' could not respond', causing all of us to laugh as it dawned on us that they were gonna be 'left hanging' on that one. The realisation hits that it's one of the things we take for granted in 'normal' pool activities.
After we had all completed all roles it was time to head home for a much needed rest!
Sunday and our Final day! 9 am and we started with the Exam! 2 hours later and on a gloriously sunny day - actually the hottest day of the year! it was time to go diving!!! and there we were donning drysuits and heading to the quayside!
So this time, it was me to be instructor 1st with a blind Tracey and a paraplegic Denise!
1st into the water was the Para diver and after Tactile signals discussed, we kitted Tracey up (blind throughout) and got her into the water and off we go!
Tracey knew she had 'seen' the metal bench and the Nautillus as she did this by feel, then Tracey became my sighted assistant and Denise my quad diver. Having to clear ears and 100% control another diver is hard work but very rewarding! especially when the assessor is impressed with handling skills!
Next up, my turn to be blind...blindfolded on land and kitted up, the sighted surface cover (who works in this field all the time may I add) asked me a normally very simple question... Queue the quote of the day...
Jim:"Rach, which fins are yours?" "
Rach:"Blue atomics...or so I'm told...I haven't seen them!" which as,those who know me, would say that was very quick for me! Haha! Followed by group laughter again, in the way of realisation that you really do have to think through each event!
So, after we had all switched roles and discovered just an insight into how hard it is to control your body when you don't have control over your limbs etc, it was time for a well deserved visit to the pub for our congratulations hand shakes!!! YAY!!!! The 3 of us had passed and are now HSA qualified instructors - Congratulations to us!
Massive thanks have to go to our course directors Duncan Brown and Jim Buntin.
All in all, a good weekend had by all - long, intense at time but VERY rewarding... watch our website as we integrate disabled diving more and more.