Here in the UK all Dive Centres and Dive professionals must work under the Training Frameworks of their chosen training agencies as well as the Health and Safety Executive
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.
It applies to us here at Dive Rutland and is fully embedded into EVERYTHING we do.
Health and Safety Definition of Surface Support
Where Surface Support is concerned, The Health and Safety Executive say that when a dive professional is working in open water and in the water, that the minimum training dive team should be three, consisting of Surface Support, The Instructor and a Certified Assistant.
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
This person 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.
Dive Rutland, Surface Support
Just one more GREAT reason you should learn and train with us here at Dive Rutland, your safety and comfort is important to us
A stable platform is the most important skill in diving at any level and in any piece of dive equipment. It is probably the skill that takes the longest to learn, in the early days of learning to dive the most frustrating, particularly, if in a Drysuit. It is a skill that we relearn the most often.
Every time we change our equipment configuration, or the diving environment, or the skills we are learning and mastering, in fact, sometimes buoyancy control just needs a little fine-tuning, but when you change a lot of things, it can take a lot of time to perfect.
So, whether you are still getting it right for the first time or fine tuning your skills you should PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE
Compensating for poor buoyancy by wafting your arms or hands around, kicking your legs, constantly swimming to stay buoyant doesn’t hide that you are not in control, it just wastes air, takes effort and remember diving should be relaxing!
So practice and be brave. Keep trying to be still or moving slowly while controlling your position in the water. Make a mess of it, who cares, you are at least trying to do something about it and practise makes perfect after all.
So how to improve buoyancy, remember back to your open water dives, where you had to hover for a period of time, or if you did your Drysuit speciality you had to hover, while you were probably looking at some object. This is a visual reference, pick a spot, look at it and concentrate on not moving, trying to stay level with that spot
Then become less reliant on that reference and start to feel neutral / natural buoyancy. Take your eyes of the spot and continue to try and maintain position. Use your ears as a guide, they give you lots of clues, but more than that you can feel the water buoying you up and when you breath in and out you will feel the gentle rise and fall, once truly cracked there will be no movement at all!
Complete a Peak Performance Course - it does not matter if you have done one before! or have a Boost 121 session with a diving professional
Then is the time to practise with other pieces of equipment, such as a DSMB
Now importantly do not forget about balance. If your kit is well setup and your buoyancy is good, you should be able to move fairly easily even if in bulky technical kit.
Good buoyancy control allows you to pivot on your balance point, which is generally somewhere around your midpoint. This balance allows you to dive in a flat / skydiving position, but easily allow you to adjust your position if entering caves or caverns (subject to be qualified to do so).
Make adjustments slowly and methodically. So, if you do need to adjust your kit, make a note of what you are doing and what effect it has in the water. Don’t forget it can take a little time to relax into a new kit configuration and what felt difficult on the first dive may improve with time. Take baby steps. Add new equipment a little at a time.
IF you are changing to twins for the first time, it’s easier if the rest of your kit (Drysuit, baselayer etc.) is the same as normal and also if the environment you are diving in is familiar.
A new suit, new cylinder configuration plus DSMB’s, Reels, torches etc. maybe one step to far and always learn new skills with qualified professionals.
I remember the first time on my twinset, it was not a comfortable experience and until 2019 was one that I only did when I truly had to, but then I found an instructor and a buddy who wanted to learn more about the technical world and we spent time working together to resolve the issues, practising (as well as changing equipment!). but in the end we had a great week diving Scapa Flow, it was comfortable diving.
It just shows you need to keep practising and finding the RIGHT instructor is also part of the package and we are still on our technical journey - watch our social media.
As with buoyancy you need to practice and not just by swimming around. Practise skills, drills and using your new equipment until it is easy. Usually the skills you like the least are the ones you need to practise the most.
Take it slowly at first. The first step when doing a new skill, or a skill in new kit, is to think through and plan each step. Visualise what it is you are going to do.
Once underwater, TAKE YOUR TIME when practising new skills and work with your instructor to achieve if doing for the very first time. Check / correct your buoyancy and depth between each step. Once you have done it a few times you will find that you move much easier and the skill completion will be much quicker.
New equipment or new combinations of equipment can take time to master. Auxiliary equipment such as an DSMB you will not necessarily use on every dive, so always when possible take time to practise.
When you imagine yourself, diving do you imagine clearing your mask whilst kneeling on the bottom, or taking a photograph of a beautiful coral reef whilst lying on the coral reef? I doubt it, you imagine yourself swimming effortlessly whilst observing the beautiful environment you are in.
From your first pool session with you will notice we are different. You will start by diving, swimming underwater in the pool in your SCUBA equipment. After all this is what you signed up to learn. You didn’t sign up to spend 10 hours kneeling at the bottom of a swimming pool learning skill after skill.
Don’t get me wrong, you will have to complete the skills required for certification, but you will accomplish these whilst actually diving.
Confined Water Dives
For each skill you will talk to your Instructor about what you will be learning, how you are going to accomplish it and how you will let them know you are happy with that skill. Once you descend into the pool your Instructor will demonstrate the skill for you and then ask you to repeat the skill, whilst swimming. After you complete the skill a few times and you are confident you will move on to the next one. We should warn you, there is a lot of happy acknowledgement, the Dive Rutland dance and laughter in these sessions.
Open Water Dives
When you are diving in one of our open water sites you may notice that we use our blob (surface marker buoy with a line attached to something solid at the bottom) for you to use during your descents and early ascents. Once you have descended and you are comfortable you begin your dive, you will swim around exploring the underwater world and your Instructor will ask you to complete the required skills, whilst swimming throughout the dive. At no point in your training will you be asked to kneel on the bottom, this is all practice for when you go out and dive on the wonderful coral reefs of the world, the UK included.
For you to be the best diver you can be
So, why do we teach how we teach? It’s because of you our students, we want you to have the best Instruction, with the most modern teaching techniques out there so you can be the best divers you can be. It may take a little longer, but the end result is well worth the additional effort. It takes time to make a good diver
A recent publication of a new book called close calls by Stratis Kas has left me pondering about the subject of close calls and how all of us as divers no matter how much experience we have can all still have dangerous experiences from participation in the sport. After all, technically speaking humans should not be underwater. We rely on equipment to support us to achieve this and without this or on the chance that a piece of this equipment fails then problems arise which can ultimately lead to serious consequences if not addressed correctly and quickly. Although not as major as some of the close calls published in this book I thought I would share one of my own that I have experienced, what I learnt as a result of it and how moving forward I can prevent it from happening again.
What made this all the more terrifying for me and perhaps why it sticks with is, at the time that this close call happened I was on only my second dive after receiving my PADI open water certification when I was diving at Stoney cove with my younger brother as part of the Dive Rutland Club. It started off as a regular recreational dive along the 6metre shelf at Stoney, taking in the sights of the Nautilus and the cockpit whilst taking some photos on a Go Pro camera. As we hit our turn point for our dive we decided to start heading back towards the exit via Nessie. Whilst we were taking a look at Nessie and taking some pictures with a go pro, whichever way I moved to position myself caused my Octopus to start free flowing uncontrollably underwater. At the time this came as a bit of a shock and I could not seem to stop it from free flowing no matter what I tried to do. I was conscious that my air was depleting rapidly and I would have to do something to address the situation or get to the surface. This obviously panicked me slightly and along with the free flow, the rush of air started to stir silt and began to make visibility obscured.
After the initial panic for a few seconds, my training kicked in and I signalled my buddy to assist. I took hold of their octopus and began air sharing immediately as my own air was depleting rapidly. At this point I reached back to my pillar valve and turned off my cylinder to stop the continuous stream of air from pouring from my octopus. I attempted to turn it back on again to see if this would solve the problem but it did not and it continued to free flow. We then signalled to call the dive and return to the surface. This was completed whilst air sharing and on reaching the surface, instinctively I reached for my low-pressure inflator to add air to my BCD. Luckily my training again kicked in and I hadn’t got rid of my buddie’s octopus and was still breathing from it. I began to sink as I realised I had no air to do this due to having isolated my cylinder. I began finning to keep afloat and used my buddy as an aid and added air manually to my BCD. The whole incident probably only lasted about 2-3 minutes from the time of my octopus going into free flow to reaching the surface. During the ordeal my buddy lost his Go-Pro camera when he came to my aid. In the heat of the moment he dropped the camera he was holding to assist with passing me his octopus.
Although relatively new to the diving world at this time when this occurred it did not phase me too much as my training kicked in pretty much automatically. After an elaborate debrief with my buddy and the Dive Rutland instructors who were also on site that day which was a major benefit and one major reason I advocate joining a diving club that supports its members, I changed my regulators and cylinder and got back in for another dive. Thankfully this one was incident free and we got to see several large pike, unfortunately the only downside was we lost the camera and couldn’t get any photos.
I learnt a few different things from this and all have stayed with me to this day. Firstly I learnt that the training I had received was brilliant as in a time of panic and stress it just automatically kicked in. It was second nature to me to just air share and attempt to fix the problem. I was surprisingly calm considering how new to diving I was and the fact that I was on my own with my buddy who had also only just completed his open water course. We both had the confidence and calmness to deal with the situation almost effortlessly. I also learnt the importance of maintaining good buddy contact throughout the dive. Something which is stressed during Open water training and for good reason. By maintaining good buddy contact we were able to deal with the situation quickly and effectively even when our visibility was obscured to almost zero. Knowing where my buddy was made dealing with the situation much easier.
Finally moving forward, I have taken up a couple of practices to try and prevent this issue from arising again during a dive. I now before getting into the water make sure that my octopus sensitivity is turned down to a lower setting to try and prevent the flow of the water over the purge button causing this to activate. I also ensure that my octopus is positioned with the mouth piece facing in a downwards position, again to try and stop the flow of water directly against the purge button. Unfortunately both of these things I had not considered until after the incident occurred and perhaps if I had then it wouldn’t have happened in the first place. Regardless I learnt a lot from albeit a fairly minor incident in the grand scheme of things and it did not stop me from getting back in the water.
Written by Robert O'Rourke
We often hear from divers that they do not feel ready to become a rescue diver, if one of our professionals is suggesting you take that next step then YES YOU ARE.
But to answer the question Are you ready to become a Rescue Diver?, you are once you are comfortable as a diver, able to dive down into the different types of dive sites with ease and if are starting to look around at other divers and questioning why things are being done or not done then you are more than ready
During the Rescue Course, you will expand upon the knowledge you have already gained .
In the Open Water Diver course, you learned the basics of how to scuba dive alongside a buddy. Your Advanced Open Water Course taught you to develop those basics and explore different skills and continue to improve your diving ability
The Rescue course is about changing your mind set and start to get you to begin to look outside yourself and your own skills and learn to tune in with others underwater.
Reasons to become a Rescue Diver
See the Bigger Picture
Here at Dive Rutland we believe that if as a diver you are starting to notice the little things that might not be quite right or another diver suffering with a little apprehension they this is the sign you are ready to become a Rescue Diver.
During the rescue diver training you learn to become more aware of your surroundings including how to recognise the various signs and symptoms of various types of stress - Tired divers, panicked divers and so much more.
As a Rescue Diver, you'll be able to spot potential problems and fix them before they ever happen, as your eyes open up to the "bigger" picture around you.
Improve your dive skills and confidence underwater
The more time you spend in the water the more your dive skills and confidence grow, this is a fact. All of these things lead to you being a better diver and a much better and aware buddy.
Improve your navigation skills
Part of the Rescue course is learning how to search for lost items using different underwater search patterns.
Increasing your navigation skills underwater is always a good thing as it will increase your comfort in the water and could come in handy the next time you drop something valuable or we get asked to go put in mooring lines at Rutland Water or find that lost engine on the local duck pond or even a lost keel all things we have used our navigation skills for over the years
Become better prepared for any diving emergency
There are all kinds of side benefits to becoming a Rescue Diver course but the number one benefit and reason most people take this course is that you will leave with the skills you would need to save someone's life in a diving emergency.
This is worth its weight in gold.
Should you find yourself in a situation where your dive buddy or someone else diving in your group has an underwater emergency you will feel confident enough to offer aid, and could possibly be the one to save their life. Is there really any other reason you would need besides that?
Last course before Divemaster
Some people know they want to become a dive professional and the rescue course is the last course needed as a pre-requisite (there are other requirements) prior to the first professional certification - Divemaster.
What Can I expect?
You can expect your course to be challenging, if checking out different providers ask what the course includes and who your instructor will be; find out if you can meet them to discuss what their teaching style is like. Also ask how long you can expect the course to take (this will vary depending on where you are), and how many other students will be on the course alongside you.
If you’re completing the course with other students you may have the opportunity to play victim as well as rescuer. Any Divemaster who has assisted a rescue course can tell you you’ll learn just as much from acting victim.
Sometimes you may find you’re the only student, so your instructor may be assisted by a Divemaster or other instructor. This usually makes for a really fun environment; when there’s a rescue course going on most of the dive professionals will want to get involved, and you’ll probably find lots of other teachers fighting for a chance to act out an emergency and show off their amateur dramatics!
It is Fun
Yes the course is fun but forget a rescue course being “fun” or as a stepping stone to something else. Learn the skills because they can be the difference between life and death.
Becoming a Rescue Diver is probably the most important certification we think all divers should receive after they become an Open Water Diver. So what are you waiting for?
Back in 2019, a time when we were all guilty of taking social interaction for granted, I started my Duke of Edinburgh award.
When making my choices I knew I wanted to complete each section in an area that I have an interest in and I didn’t want this to just be a box ticking exercise, I wanted to enjoy it too and if possible develop my skills and interests In no particular order I decided to complete: Skills – Cooking (Yes I know I still owe the team a chocolate cake!), Physical – Rugby and for Volunteering I wanted to incorporate diving.
I approached Tracey to ask if she would allow me to carry out my Duke of Edinburgh Volunteering with Dive Rutland, with a focus on mentoring the junior divers. Tracey and the team kindly took on the challenge of supporting me whilst I supervised the juniors!
In addition to helping with the junior theory and practical sessions I also learnt what goes on behind the scenes in the shop getting the sessions ready and I was even let loose on a few customers and stock taking!
The finale to my volunteering was to be a ‘Dive Against Debris’ for the members and juniors. I had put a lot of work into preparing the marketing material but unfortunately, due to Covid 19 this has not yet happened.
During my time volunteering I learnt patience, how to interpret and satisfy needs and requirements and I was also pleased to discover that I know more about diving than I thought I did!
The bronze DofE volunteering component requires 13 weeks with a minimum input of one hour a week. I managed 35.5 hours and I really enjoyed all of it. I love diving and I am lucky to have such a supportive local club which provides such excellent opportunities.
Thank you to Tracey and the crew for facilitating this.
Written by Thomas Frieland
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