A reel like no other, the Apeks Lifeline Ascend takes the humble SMB reel to the next level of quality and functionality.
Designed and built in the UK, the Lifeline Ascend exemplifies what Apeks has become renowned for, giving the diver the finest equipment to take on their next adventure.
Designed to make deploying your delayed surface marker buoy a breeze, the 30 metre Apeks Lifeline Ascend is the finest reel on the market. It doesn’t just look good, it plays good.
Designed to be used both left and right-handed, the Lifeline Ascend is simple and smooth to operate, even if you’re wearing thick gloves. From the easy grip rubber handle to the secure stainless-steel attachment points, the Lifeline Ascend sets a new standard in dive reels.
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
Number of Places: 12
£350 Non-Refundable Deposit required to secure your place on this trip with final Payment by 1st March 2022*
You need to be a PADI Advanced Open Water with Deep Speciality (or equivalent) for this trip. Maybe consider being DECO40 trained to take advantage of the longer decompression stop times!
*Dive Rutland Trip Terms and Conditions apply
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
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.
Aqua Lung have brought out the ACD Series of regulators, but what is ACD? ACD Stands for Auto-Closure System
The ACD feature coupled with the environmental dry chamber, results in a first stage that is completed sealed off from the environment
Data from Aqua Lung website and Youtube channels
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