Monday, 9 June 2008

Rescue Diving....

I have not written about diving for ages. As I am half way through the Rescue Diver course I thought I would bring my readers up to date.

Some of you may remember that I qualified as a scuba diver at the ripe old age of 43. It was something that did not come easily to me and, to be honest, it came down to a case of not allowing something to beat me. I qualified but I did not really enjoy the sport.

Then I did my first dive as a qualified diver and I fell in love!

Yes, I dived on Anguillita, just off Anguilla's western tip, and found a world of teeming marine life from rays to sharks, beautiful blue chromis to speckly eels and I was hooked forever more.

Since then, I have braved the depths at night to go night diving on the wreck of the Cathley H in the pitch black and have found my way around with a compass whilst trying to navigate my way about. I took and passed the Advanced Course and found I was really enjoying myself.

What next? I thought about it for about ten seconds. The decision was easy. Master Scuba Diver. That is what I wanted and I knew that it would not be easy.

To reach this ultimate qualification for an amateur diver, you have to take 5 speciality courses, have taken the Open Water, Advanced and Rescue Diver Courses and have taken a first aid qualification. You also have to have dived a minimum of 50 dives to take the Rescue Diver Course, considered one of the toughest amateur dive courses.

So, I knew I was letting myself in for a bit of work!

So far, I have taken the Underwater Naturalist and Underwater Photography Speciality Courses and the St John Ambulance of Canada First Response First Aid Course. Now I am working on the Rescue Diver Course.

Today I took the examination. I was not confident about this; who is when they sit a test like this? 50 multiple choice questions about all kinds of things from the emergency use of oxygen to the various tows to use, from techniques to rescue panicked and tired divers to throwing flotation aids. All kinds of things to learn and remember. I had been studying for ages and had a dvd to watch and learn from too. In the end, I need not have worried as some of the knowledge rubbed off and I passed. I was very pleased with myself as I really did not know if enough had sunk in for me to get through.

Then it was off to the water and a whole barrage of practises, from how to approach a panicked diver, how to fight off a panicked diver (I got well and truly ducked, repeatedly!), how to assist a tired diver, how to throw a flotation aid (have you ever had to throw one? It is harder than it looks!), how to get people on to a dive boat, how to carry them ashore and a whole host of other things, all in shallow, calm water.

Tomorrow I will be doing more; going deeper and rescuing divers from the bottom in a whole host of scenarios. All of which is to prepare me for the final phase of this demanding course, the four open water rescue scenarios on Thursday which will be realistic and will, I really hope, qualify me as a PADI Rescue Diver.

For now, I am pleased to have passed the exam and to have got through today. I did not drown nor did I allow any one else to do so. As this had been on my mind, I am pleased to be able to say this! In fact, if truth be told, yes it was hard, I need to know the theory and be able to apply it practically, but it was intense fun. Already I feel more confident in the water.

I have homework to do this evening and then tomorrow I will be off again, hopefully taking another step towards my goal; the Rescue Diver Course and then, Master Scuba Diver.

Wish me luck!

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