As a working Dive Professional here in the UK you have to be aware of so much more than your agencies training standards, we are bound by the rules and regulations of other bodies such as Swim England and Health and Safety.
The Health and Safety – Diving at Work Regulations 1997, approved Code of Practise and Guidance. This document covers both the instruction and guiding of people diving for recreational purposes where at least one person taking part is at work, for example as an instructor
This regulation applies to all recreational diving projects within the 12-mile limit of territorial waters adjacent to Great Britain.
One of the rules is about the size of the dive team, so today we thought we would look at one of those specific roles – Surface Support or Surface Cover
What do the Regulations Say?
The regulations states that the absolute minimum team size for a dive using recreational techniques is three, one person on the surface and two in the water, so if you are working and do not have this then you AND the Diving Contractor are working outside of HSE.
The Diving Contractor is the Dive Centre OR the independent working instructor.
The Diving supervisor is an individual or individual(s) appointed by the Diving Contractor and should be in writing and covering that they are responsible for including but not limited to: -
What is the definition of Surface Support?
The definition of Surface Support is A person who does not have to be diver but should be familiar with the Dive plan and the arrangements for obtaining assistance in the event of an emergency
Your Surface Support should be present throughout the time that an instructional team is in the water and ready and able to raise the alarm, if required OR assist with managing any dive incident.
This means they should be
How about making your students’ lives easier and provide some good quality customer care and have them assist your divers with
Q - I am not paid so therefore these rules do not cover me?
This is a common response when professionals are questioned about not having surface support. Even as a volunteer, if anyone is being paid by the student then you are 'at work' and HSE rules apply
Q- We do not need Surface Support because we are working at our local quarry?
Yes, you do, our inland quarries generally supply an emergency evacuation process for divers within their quarries but that is NOT surface support, and they are not obliged to offer an emergency service.
What does Surface Support look like at Dive Rutland?
First, congratulations on becoming a PADI Professional! Now, are you ready for the next challenge? YES?!
Why did you choose to become a Divemaster? Was it the personal challenge? Was it that you have a career in mind? Whatever the reason, it is "Well Done and go for it", here at Dive Rutland, we wish you well and are here if you want any help or guidance.
Below we have given you just a few ideas of what you could do moving forward, there are many more.
What Can you do as a Divemaster?
Guiding Certified Divers and Assisting instructors with courses
That is the most common way of using your newly acquired dive skills. Whether it’s a part-time job , seasonal adventure in the tropics, or a full-time position in a dive center, your main focus is to give an underwater tour to already certified divers or help instructors with the logistics and student's supervision.
Here in the UK an instructor can not work without a certified assistant as we work under Health and Safety Exec.
Continue with your education
You could do your Discover Scuba Diver Leader uplift or take the step to Assistant Instructor or straight to Instructor. Here at Dive Rutland with our Professional staff and Course Director you can take any step you like.
Taking those next steps increases your chances of employment and gives you many more options. In many popular dive destinations (like Indonesia, Maldives, Honduras, Thailand) you need a special visa to be able to work and those are mostly granted to instructors.
Volunteer on a marine conservation project
Many organisations will look for skilled, experienced divers just like you. This way you can progress your diving, gain further knowledge about marine life, and contribute to ocean conservation. Often you get food, accommodation, and of course, diving included.
Work on a yacht or liveaboards and travel the world.
In the last decade the growth of the ‘superyacht industry’ increased positions for Divemasters and Instructors. However, these jobs often require additional boating qualifications like the STCW95 and can involve 80 percent deckhand/cleaning/maintenance work to 20 percent diving-related work. On a plus side, it will probably be the best-paid divemaster job ever and tax-free.
With the increased power of social media, there is a massive demand for underwater photographers. We don’t know a dive center that doesn’t have one. It’s a great source of income and the minimum required certification for that position is usually Divemaster
Work in an Aquarium
While it might not be a dream come true for a newly graduated and excited Divemaster, you will still be surrounded by incredible marine life. It is a great option if you are still studying at university, need additional income, or are stuck in a landlocked location craving to blow some bubbles and we have instructors who have gone on to work at Aquariums such as Bear Grylls at Birmingham
As a Divemaster, you are way more experienced than most recreational divers therefore you can provide others with your expertise on dive equipment, dive trips, and dive courses.
Dive Travel Agent
It’s sort of like a tour leader but for divers. By the time you’ve done your training, you should have an idea, how to run and supervise a dive trip. A great way to earn some extra cash and travel to top diving destinations is by organising dive trips for a group of certified divers.
So as you can see there are many options
Get in touch and talk with us, let us know what it is you are trying to achieve and we will map out a training plan for YOU,
Here at Dive Rutland we are constantly looking at the way we run our business and the impact that we have on the planet and that is why we actively run a Reduce, Recycle, Reuse policy.
We have been developing our Dive Professional training and wanted to give all of our attendees something to remember their time with us, so went through all the normal things like:-
T-Shirt / Polo Shirts - decided no due to the impact of microfibres on our environment - you have seen our blog on that subject yes?
Water Bottles - we have these in store for those who do not have but we actively engage everyone owning these so you might already have one and we wanted something more - something unique
Hats - as cold water divers most of us have enough warm hats, we looked at baseball type caps but if you have ever seen me in one of those you know why that got taken off the table!
The Recreational Scuba Training Council (RSTC) diving medical screening system was first published in 1989. This screening questionnaire was a collaborative project orchestrated by and through the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) Diving Committee and subsequently endorsed by the RSTC.
Since its inception, this tool has become the most frequently used method of efficiently and effectively screening scuba divers for training or diving activity participation.
After almost 30 years, there was sufficient evidence to support a revision, and an independent international group of diving medical experts, the Diver Medical Screen Committee (DMSR), was brought together in 2017 to initiate an evidence-based review and an updated diver screening questionnaire underwent field testing for efficacy and screening sensitivity and was published in June 2020.
Can an Instructor decline to train a student with a signed Medical?
As a dive professional, you know a student for any certification course – that is from beginner courses and all continuing education courses must fill out the RSTC diving medical questionnaire (in addition, if you run a club and organised events it is strongly recommended that you hold an in date medical on file and it is annually reviewed).
If there are any YES answers on the questionnaire then the student must get a physician’s approval to dive prior to participating in any training with you (the latest form is 2020 Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire)
So, cut and dried – well our training agencies would have us believe that, but it is never that simple.
What is the definition of Physician?
In the context of the Diver Medical Participant Questionnaire, the term “Physician” has a specific meaning.
In most countries, this means a medical doctor, one who focuses on the non-surgical treatment of patients’ conditions.
The ideal medical provider to perform fitness to dive examinations has undergone training in diving and hyperbaric medicine as evidenced by board certification or certificate of added qualification (the designation of these qualifications varies around the world).
However, the Diver Medical screening system was designed to equip physicians who don’t have this specialised training with resources to assist in their medical consultations. The Diving Medical Guidance to the Physician provides insight from the Diver Medical Screen Committee into medical conditions as they relate to diving, and where there is any doubt concerning a patient’s condition, the Divers Alert Network has referral specialists around the world that can be reached for this purpose or in the UK an AMED doctor (http://www.ukdmc.org/medical-referees/)
During your course orientation or initial conversations with potential students stress the need for absolute truth and accuracy on these forms because once underwater there is nothing worth seeing that is worth risking their and your life over.
When you are uncomfortable teaching a student with a Medical Condition
You have a student who has truthfully completed the medical statement with a YES and then gets a physician’s signature that allow them to proceed, but you are not comfortable with their fitness to dive.
Maybe the person is showing signs or symptoms, acting in a manner that you know will be not only challenging for them or the other student(s) but for you and your instructional team; more importantly safety becomes questioned or flagged in the training risk assessment. We all get challenging students at times but what we are talking about is where the student is actually presenting a challenge to their own safety or that of others around them.
We are not physicians and our training agencies say if the student has a medical, they can commence training. If a student had a YES, you do not get to play physician and say, “Oh you do not need a physician signature that’s nothing.” As an instructor, you can refuse to accept to teach a student with a physician signed medical form. We are granted this by our certification agencies because we must be comfortable for our safety and the students, we have a duty of care to while teaching diving courses.
If you are not comfortable teaching someone you must be able to articulate the reasons why, but you can say no, even if the student has a signed medical.
What happens if the physician attaches a letter or note telling you what the student can or cannot do?
Medicals prior to the 2020 Diver Medical there was a section for Physicians to write comments, this has now been removed with the Physician only able tick Approved or Not Approved on the Diver Medical in the Physician’s Evaluation Form section, but this does not stop the Physician from writing additional notes or attaching a letter or note!
If a Physician does attached a letter or note, then in PADI terms the instructor manual covers this very clearly and states that there can be no restrictions or conditions noted by the physician (for example depth limits, water temperature restrictions etc.)
The student tells you that they had to go to several physicians before one would sign it
This always raises a red flag, and you should understand the reason for this and that can be done with a “Oh really, why was that” type of question.
It could be that their local physician was not comfortable signing a medical questionnaire as they declared they are not a diving doctor and do not understand the implications – Great that is honesty.
It could be the local surgery policy is to not sign these types of forms and we are seeing this more and more in our local area.
It could be the cost of the local physician to sign was prohibitive – yes it happens.
Now it could be that one physician advised the student to not come diving and the student then ‘shopped’ around until they found a physician who would sign it.
In this latter case, politely advise them to have a conversation with a diving AMED, after all they understand diving medicine.
During training something comes up or happens which brings the divers medical into question
Yes, there are times a student fills in the medical statement and puts a NO when they should have put a YES. After all they want to come diving and experience all of the amazing things we talk about and put over our social media channels, who would not want to experience that after all.
Something might come up in conversation with a member of your professional team it might be something you see – it could be a serious scar and they have put NO to major surgery. It is at this point you need an open and honest conversation with the student and politely point out the NO on the medical statement and see if it changes to a YES, it probably will and then stop training until you have a signed medical statement from a physician.
A student becomes ill or injured during training
In PADI terms the instructor manual covers this very clearly and states that a student diver who becomes ill or injured during a PADI course is to complete a new Medical statement before further in water activities. Use the medical form to rescreen the student to determine if the changed medical condition would cause the diver to check off something new on the medical. If so, the diver must be cleared for diving by a physician prior to resuming in water trainin
Form signed by a Physician
We have had forms signed by our local GP practices and potentially the student has paid a lot of money to get that signature, but we inwardly question if the physician actually read the guidance documentation or did any research into the student’s condition as it relates to diving. Because they have approved someone with a condition that we have previously seen students not approved to dive. We might not be physicians but a number of us are aware of conditions and medication that a student would be advised not to dive with or on.
In this case, you technically cannot decline to train the student, unless the criteria outlined in part one is present. What we do is gently refer the student to a diving doctor which here in the UK is an AMED doctor and we give our students the name of number of our local ones, explaining that we think the student would benefit from talking to the AMED doctor as they are understanding diving medicine whereas their doctor probably does not. In fact, if a student declares a medical condition in our early conversations, we advise them to go to an AMED over and above their local physician. Our local chamber doctor has been incredibly helpful over the years.
We are an inclusive sport, and we should do everything we can to include disabled divers. There are plenty of parliamentary acts to ensure that no one is unfairly discriminated against and quite rightly. But everyone needs a medical BEFORE they can undertake any diver training.
But let us take just one example - you have someone who is morbidly obese, and they receive a yes from their physician. (This potentially should not happen – see the DDRC article that answers the question “Can I dive if obese” on https://www.ddrc.org/diving/can-i-dive/can-i-dive-if-obese/)
But you are uncomfortable teaching this individual. It could be an operational risk – you are concerned that you would physically not be able to exit them from the pool or open water site in an emergency. The rental equipment is not going to fit, and you are not going to train them without exposure protection. This would require a well-articulated message that states all of this. Plus, other professionals can help with the message The Dive Centre Risk Assessment has raised a number of issues that we cannot remediate that would make you the student safe and us the instructional team able to safely deliver the course.
Everyone has to be “Fit to Dive” and we have other articles that cover this subject as Fit to Dive covers your physical, emotional and mental fitness
Just another reason (if you need one!) to become a PADI Professional, you can get to travel the world.
Just another reason (if you need one!) to become a PADI Professional, you can get to travel the world.
One of the great reasons for becoming a PADI professional be that a Divemaster, instructor or above is funding travel.
Experiencing the world on a gap year diving and working your way around - what an experience and adventure!
As many diving jobs are seasonal you could spend maybe three months in Thailand, then take off to Bali for another two months or have a working holiday in Australia. But hopping from one contract to another means you could get to work in some of the most beautiful places in the world - so much adventure and underwater things to see and explore also what a great thing to place on your CV?
Maybe you do not want short term work but a long-term position - well they are out there but experience is important.
Just maybe you find another love on your travels and decide to settle down in another part of the world - what great stories you would have for your children and grandchildren.
What is stopping your journey? Nothing... Here at Dive Rutland we run a full suite of professional training courses AND we can also provide you with the value add training such as how to operate a compressor, gas blend, first aid and so much more. You could become one of the most sought after dive professionals.
Now is really the time to start or continue your journey. Be prepared for the world to open back up and get out there.
Just another reason to become a Dive professional is that you get to work out in nature
You get to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and that always makes you feel better, yes, you also get the wind and rain but that’s exhilarating.
Being under the water with the fishes, the coral, the grasses, the sharks, whales, rays and dugongs is amazing and being able to share your passion with others is an amazing opportunity.
So go on, join us and become a dive professional, we are here to help you with your journey
The first step of the journey is to become a Divemaster, this will open up many doors such as that gap year be you having a year out from studying, work or just life, find out more by having a look at our PADI Divemaster course
And if you want to progress further up the professional ladder then we have something for you to. contact us to discuss your next steps, we truly are that "one stop shop"
Dive Rutland is the trading name for Dive Rutland Limited, a company registered in England and Wales with company number 9433835.
Registered address: 8 Horn Close, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6FE