Meeting CPR and First Aid Requirements for PADI Courses

Some PADI® courses require first aid and CPR training within the past 24 months. You know that Emergency First Response® Primary and Secondary Care courses meet the requirements.

How do you determine what other courses qualify when a diver presents you with first aid and CPR qualifications from another organization?

Follow these steps:

  • Verify that the CPR and first aid training included student skill practice and demonstration of CPR and first aid techniques in person with a qualified instructor. A course that lacks this does not qualify, such as online only courses or self-study programs via any other media.
  • Check that the training taken meets current international emergency care guidelines as defined by the various resuscitation councils. For further information on layperson CPR and first aid training, visit the following ILCOR (International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation) Association websites:

American Heart Association

Australian Resuscitation Council

European Resuscitation Council

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

New Zealand Resuscitation Council

  • For PADI Divemaster candidates, include a copy of that CPR and first aid course completion documentation along with the Divemaster Application to avoid unnecessary processing delays. Documentation must be from the qualifying CPR/first aid organization. Certificates or completion documents provided by third parties that are not directly sanctioned CPR/first aid organizations are unacceptable. Look at the name of the CPR/first aid organization for whom the instructor is authorized to teach and ensure it matches with the name on the certification.

If you’re unsure, contact a Regional Training Consultant at your PADI Regional Headquarters for clarification before accepting documentation provided by the student or candidate for course requirements.

The Heroic – But Failed – Rescue

Written by Al Hornsby

What do the following scenarios have in common?

  1. A certified diver surfaces near shore, gets swept onto rocks by the swell and spends several minutes submerged, regulator out of his mouth. The dive guide risks his life to reach the diver and tow him back to the boat. The deckhand quickly begins CPR and continues until reaching the marina, just minutes away. Unfortunately, the diver does not regain consciousness.
  2. A certified diver suffers a catastrophic injury at more than 30 metres/100 feet and becomes unresponsive. A nearby divemaster spots the incident and attempts to bring the heavily weighted, incapacitated diver to the surface, fighting a heavy swell and strong current. Reaching exhaustion, the buoyant divemaster loses contact with the victim before reaching the surface. The victim is found on the bottom deceased after a subsequent search.
  3. An instructor is asked by three certified divers to take them on a popular local dive. After non-eventful familiarization dives to confirm their skills, the instructor takes them on the requested dive. During the dive, at about 21 metres/70 feet, one of the divers indicates a regulator problem and begins rapidly heading to the surface. The instructor rushes to assist, slows the ascent and gets the diver up safely, then sorts out the regulator problem (which turns out to be imagined). The two other buddies, however, stay down and continue the dive. As the instructor takes the diver back down, the others pass them ascending rapidly with one completely out of gas. Upon reaching the surface, the out-of-gas diver begins to cough and panic. The instructor, who surfaced with the first diver immediately, manually inflates the victim’s BCD, and he floats high in the rough water, but nonetheless shortly loses consciousness. With a strong current carrying the group, by the time the boat and additional rescuers arrive, the victim has been unresponsive for an extended period. The diver is declared dead by EMS. The instructor who was attending him and the other divers throughout the several-hour ordeal ends up hospitalized for extreme exhaustion.

In all these (real) scenarios, there are various commonalities:

  1. The difference between what would/could have been a heroic rescue, at significant personal risk to the dive pro, and the diver fatality was heartbreakingly small.
  2. In the three situations, some combination of various errors and/or omissions could be alleged: an improper briefing/warning; improper rescue technique; improper rescue breaths; lack of available O2; etc.
  3. In addition to those common aspects, all three situations also resulted in the dive pro being sued, and all the cases resulted in negative verdicts or out‑of‑court settlements.

These, like any serious dive accident, were tragedies – for the victims, for the victims’ families and for the dive pros involved. Unfortunately in each, otherwise excellent, conscientious behavior and dive supervision had – or could be alleged to have had – small discrepancies that could be used in a lawsuit to attack the pros’ performance and/or response to the emergency.

Here’s a quick list of rescue-related issues to always stay current on and to use in a dive emergency to maximize the chances of success, but also to reduce the likelihood of a lawsuit that could reasonably allege that your conduct fell below accepted professional standards:

  1. Always provide a proper dive briefing, describing emergency and diver separation procedures and any special risks of the dive.
  2. Have operational, emergency O2 available, with all dive pros and applicable boat crew knowing where it is located and how to administer it, as well as being familiar with the dive boat/operation’s overall emergency plan and procedures.
  3. Stay current on and use the inwater, rescue-breath protocols you’ve learned, including when to give breaths, how frequently, when to remove the victim’s equipment, etc.
  4. Stay current on and use proper CPR protocols, including the sequencing and pace of inflations and compressions. Keep in mind that these processes have standards placed by dive and lifeguarding bodies, plus are supported by medical research and/or consensus of various sorts. These standards are mostly global, but there are a few that differ somewhat by region, so be aware of what is expected in your area. There are plenty of “experts” out there willing to allege that a nonstandard approach led to, or contributed to, a fatality: “If not but for the nonstandard, improper performance. . .”

Unfortunately, diving has risks that can never be fully eliminated, and the possibility of an incident occurring always exists. Stay prepared and vigilant, and ready to respond, using the procedures and protocols learned during your training. There will always be incidents that don’t have happy outcomes despite heroic, appropriate, individual efforts by dive professionals who do everything “by the book.” But even with real, human limitations, realize that diver rescues and assists occur every day, and the vast majority end without serious injury to the victim. Be and stay prepared for diver emergencies, but also be confident. What you know to do works and usually makes a difference.

Learning from the Statistics

Three Ways to Increase Diver Safety

Written by DAN Staff

Dive incident statistics show both improvements in diver safety and areas where divers may need more help. The DAN Annual Diving Report provides information about the most frequent causes of injury among divers. Dive professionals can learn from these statistics and continue to improve diver safety by reinforcing training concepts that encourage divers to follow safe diving practices. Knowing how to avoid common issues can reduce their chances of being involved in dive incidents.


Overweighting is a common problem and a difficult issue to tackle. You may weight students correctly in class, but can’t control how they weight themselves after certification. Besides making a point to remind students that they should always use the correct amount of weight, you could address the issue with additional training, such as a PADI Peak Performancy Buoyancy course, or offer to help divers figure out proper weighting anytime the have an equipment change or just need a tune-up. Overweighting is a significant hazard to both new and experienced divers. Emphasize the need to develop good weighting habits to not only increase safety, but to also to add to their comfort and enjoyment in the water.

Buoyancy Control

With practice, every student should be able to attain neutral buoyancy and horizontal trim before finishing a course. You’re well aware that the inability to control buoyancy during ascent or descent can cause serious injury or death. Not being able to maintain their position or minimize drag in the water can cause new divers to become unaware of their depth or cause collisions with dangerous objects. It can also decrease visibility when they stir up the bottom and cause them to become exhausted due to excessive finning through the water. Focus on mastery of proper buoyancy techniques and encourage lots of practice in your courses. Keeping your students comfortably in control and happily finning through the water throughout their initial training will make them less likely to run into issues post-certification.


The mandated use of checklists in aerospace, health care and other areas has significantly decreased the number of incidents and accidents in those industries. The same trend is coming into focus in diving. Whether you use the premade checklists from PADI materials or create your own, using a checklist is an excellent way to ensure that you have everything you need to run a class, board a vessel or get in the water, especially when managing multiple students and assistants. Checklists are an excellent resource for reducing errors. They should serve as reminders of key points rather than just to-do lists. Role model checklist use and encourage students to carry and use checklists for all their dives.

For more information about incident statistics, visit

How Cold is Too Cold?

Written by DAN Staff

Whether you use a dry suit, a thick wet suit and/or warm thoughts to stay warm in cool water, it’s important to know how cold is too cold. Diving on a blustery winter morning can be fun, but pushing your body and your exposure protection to their limits can lead to serious consequences. Help your new divers and customers avoid putting themselves in harm’s way with guidance about how to stay comfortable underwater.

Letting one’s core temperature drop too low, leading to hypothermia or a near-hypothermic state, can affect dexterity, decision-making and the body’s ability to offgas. Because one of the first symptoms of serious hypothermia is diminished awareness, many individuals fail to recognize the symptoms until another diver draws attention to them. Know what to look for in yourself and your students to reduce the risk of mild hypothermia escalating into a life-threatening issue.

What is Hypothermia?

Hypothermia is a drop in core body temperature. It can obviously occur in the arctic, but can also happen in warm tropical waters if divers have inadequate exposure protection and a long enough exposure. The condition is of particular concern for people lost at sea and those diving in extreme conditions.

A typical adult maintains a core body temperature of about 37°C/98.6°F. When this core temperature drops below 35°C/95°F, hypothermia begins to set in, and the body’s function begins to be impaired. To keep the vital organs warm, the body will shunt blood to the core. The initial symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, loss of coordination, dizziness, nausea and feelings of hunger. If the core temperature is allowed to continue dropping, at 30°C/86°F many people will stop shivering and their pupils will dilate. At 27.8°C/82°F, muscles become rigid and a serious risk of cardiac complications arises. These symptoms worsen as the core temperature drops, so it’s vital that people suffering from hypothermia are taken to qualified medical care as rapidly as possible.

Learn to Beat the Cold

Hypothermia can be serious, but it’s not something a well-prepared diver should have to contend with in all but the most extreme situations. Plan ahead with appropriate exposure protection, heat sources and a well thought-out emergency action plan if things get a little too chilly. Bring hot water to make a warm drink or warm water to pour into your wet suit between dives to make yourself more comfortable on a day that’s more winter wonderland than diver’s paradise outside. If you or a student begins shivering, terminate the dive in a safe manner and take time to warm up. Consider whether anyone who was shivering will be warm enough for another dive. If not, come back on a warmer day – there’s no sense in putting anyone at risk.

For more information on safe cold-water diving practices, visit

Be Distinctive!

Tips for Preparing a PADI Distinctive Specialty Outline

Teaching your own distinctive specialty course has never been so popular. Since introducing the Dedicated Master Scuba Diver™ rating and PADI Freediver program distinctive specialties, PADI Regional Headquarters are receiving many new distinctive specialty outlines. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when developing a PADI distinctive specialty outline:

  • Take advantage of resources! Go to the Pros’ Site – Distinctive Specialty Course Templates for detailed information. Use the template provided as a guide when creating your outline.
  • Set learning objectives and performance requirements, then tell divers what they need to know and what they will do. Beyond information consistent to every dive, what learning objectives and performance requirements specifically relate to the distinctive course? Provide adequate information in the knowledge development section to educate the student diver in the subject matter and fulfill the learning objectives. Also provide sufficient information and descriptions of how to meet the performance requirements of the dives.
  • Stay standards-consistent. Follow ratios and supervision requirements from General Standards and Procedures for confined and open water sessions.
  • It’s all about the diving. Most outlines will be approved only if there are two to four required open water dives. Although there are a few distinctive specialties that may qualify for only one dive (for example, Pumpkin Carving, Easter Egg Collection and other unique specialty programs), and a few with no dives, the point of specialty diver courses is to introduce people to new areas of diving and increase their dive experience under supervision.
  • Identify why you qualify to teach. When you complete the Specialty Course Instructor Application (No. 10180), you must document your background and experience in the course subject matter on page three. Examples include your level of familiarity with a specific site (for example, logged dives on a specific wreck) or an educational background coupled with dive experience in the specific subject matter (for example, underwater archaeology or coral reef research).

EFR® Distinctive Specialties

You can submit an Emergency First Response distinctive specialty outline as well. Use the EFR dedicated application and specialty template for these subjects.

Freediver Distinctive Specialties

See related resources for the PADI Freediver program on the Pros’ Site and download the PADI Freediver Distinctive Specialty Course Application (No. 10338).

Take time to review PADI standardized specialty outlines for information on ratios, minimum age requirements, supervision, maximum depth limits and minimum dives required to meet performance requirements. This will help guide you in drafting this information for your course. If you need additional guidance on writing your distinctive specialty, please contact a Regional Training Consultant at your PADI Regional Headquarters.

Pro Tip – PADI® Membership Renewal

Don’t forget to mark your calendars!

PADI Professional Membership Renewal occurs every November and here’s  a few tips on how to save the most for 2019:

  • Lowest Renewal Rate – To secure the best annual renewal rate, enroll in Automatic Membership Renewal on the PADI Pros’ Site before 6 November 2018. You can find this feature on the My Account page or by using the Renewal button located on the Homepage.
  • Convenient and Cost Effective – You may renew your membership online by logging onto the PADI Pros’ Site and navigating to the Online Membership Renewal option under the My Account tab. Online Renewal provides you the ability to renew one year at a time and to enroll in Automatic Renewal for future years.
  • The Pen and Paper Method – Renewing with a paper form is still an option but why waste the paper and the time. If you are not enrolled in auto renewal or have not renewed online, a paper renewal form will be mailed to you prior to the renewal deadline. This method will cost you more than the online methods, so strongly consider saving money and time with automatic renewal.

Don’t waste time worrying about annual membership renewals. Enroll in 2019 PADI Automatic Membership Renewal now by accessing My Account page on the PADI Pros Site.

5 Tips for PADI Divemasters Looking to Become Instructors

Written by Guy Corsellis, PADI Regional Training Consultant for East Thailand

I recently received recognition for 20 years as a PADI Professional – a proud moment for me. Now, as a PADI Regional Training Consultant, I look back at two decades in the industry and am grateful for the journey I have been on. It has been a passion that becomes a wonderful career.

Prior to this role, as a Course Director, most of my career has been focused on instructor level training, which brings me to my question – have you thought about becoming a PADI Instructor?

Getting this ticket truly allows you to travel the world and meet some incredible industry colleagues. It is still the dream job for young and/or innovative people. If you feel comfortable helping others, if you love the ocean as much as I do and if you’re ready to be a student for life, you will have a bright future as a PADI Instructor.

Once you have decided to take this step, please allow me to share of few tips on how to become successful.

  1. Remain humble and stay positive. Being positive and optimistic and smiling by default, will motivate and inspire others around you. You will touch the lives of so many as a PADI Instructor, so make sure it’s a positive memory you leave them with. Be more than a role model – be a mentor. Remember, that the PADI system of diver education is student-centered. So display proper attitude at all times and leave your ego at the door.
  2. Persevere and expand your knowledge. Stay updated on new diving techniques, advancements in technology and equipment changes. Continue your own education and be a student yourself. That will help you understand how your students may feel under your tuition. Consider enrolling in programs that make you a stronger ambassador to the underwater environment. Divers today want to learn from those who care about something bigger than themselves.
  3. Be punctual, organized and adaptable. People depend on your choices. You are there to show our future divers proper attitude. Arrive early for classroom or confined sessions. Make sure everything is set up and ready to go when your divers arrive. Accept that logistics in your PADI Dive Centre do change and are dependent on many factors. Dive Center owners need flexible instructors that know how to adapt to unexpected situations or when under pressure.
  4. Be sociable and available. It is important to spend time with your diver students. Not just in a classroom or in the water, but during surface intervals and breaks. Remember that sociable and professional often go hand in hand (more on professionalism later). Take and make the time to have lunch with your divers. Your body and brain need food to perform at an optimum. Lunch with your students is the perfect moment in time to share experiences with your divers and become friends. At the end of the day don’t run home when the clock strikes 5:00pm, take the time to debrief and listen to your student’s needs.
  5. Be professional. You will be judged against expectations and standards. Your image and competence is important. Respect your students and pay attention to how you communicate with them. Be committed, courteous and supportive. We all learn differently, so listen to their needs.

I strongly believe that these few tips will help you to have a long and successful career. If you’re currently a part-time Divemaster, it may be a challenge for you to leave behind another career that you’re attached too. I made the choice to become a full time Instructor some time ago and never regretted it. Change is positive.

With the right attitude becoming a PADI Instructor will be a life changing event. Get out there and visit a PADI IDC or CDC near youand earn the most sought-after credential in the diving industry.

Best of success!

View the PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor landing page for more information and to research your next steps.

Increase Productivity with PADI Master Scuba Diver™

Written by John Kinsella

There’s an old saying about the first step in a famous recipe: First, catch your rabbit. There’s a useful parallel here for PADI® Professionals. If you’re looking for a simple recipe to increase your productivity and have a lot of fun while you do it, first become at least a Master Scuba Diver Trainer. Then you have what you need to train Master Scuba Divers, and that’s a recipe for success.

Back in 1973, PADI Master Scuba Diver (MSD) was introduced as the ultimate recreational diver certification. Fewer than two percent of divers ever achieve the rating. Master Scuba Divers are the best of the best, an elite group of respected divers who have earned the rating through extensive training and experience. As you know, the path to MSD starts with PADI Open Water Diver certification, followed by Advanced Open Water Diver and Rescue Diver and five PADI Specialty Diver certifications. Before earning the rating, divers also have to log 50 dives. It’s open to all divers, who must be at least 12 years old.

The odds are you don’t know a great number of Master Scuba Divers. Here’s why, in the words of a few PADI Members who do know MSDs because they’ve trained a lot of them. Increasing your MSD certifications is something you may want to change as a matter of urgency.

Making Specialty Training Mainstream

Natalie Hunt is a very active PADI Course Director with PADI Five Star IDC Assava Dive Resort on Koh Tao, Thailand. She first trained Master Scuba Divers while working in Florida, USA, for Action Quest, running sailing and scuba summer camps for teens. The groups would stay for three weeks and specialties were a big part of the program. While working in the Cayman Islands, she would routinely link Enriched Air Diver with Open Water Diver course Dive Four. Hunt brought this experience with her when she arrived on Koh Tao in 1997 and has since made a point of taking specialty training, and Master Scuba Diver, mainstream.

“I incentivize PADI Rescue Divers to learn more about the different specialty programs,” Hunt says. “Here at Assava, I’ve created a program where if students come as Rescue Divers, they can stay and do all their dives and five specialties for one cost and it’s a great incentive for them to become Master Scuba Divers. Some people stay and do MSD only, others choose to do MSD and PADI Divemaster combined. It really depends on the time they have here on Koh Tao. Many people have the time to complete the dives needed.”

Hunt packages specialties (a recurring theme while researching this article) in other ways too. “We have PADI Deep, Wreck and Enriched Air Diver courses that we offer as a Tri Spec,” she says. “If they do those as a package they get a discount and all the dives are included.”

Hunt also uses specialty training to keep things interesting for PADI Pros, herself included. “Some divers, especially divemasters, have shown real interest in sidemount diving. Instead of me personally teaching that, even though I’m qualified, I have other instructors who are experienced technical divers and I ask them to teach the Sidemount Diver courses,” she explains.

“We also teach Self-Reliant Diver courses and recently I took on DSMB, which was quite interesting when I taught it for the first time with one of my divemasters. It was a good challenge for both the DM and me personally.”

Any Experts on Staff?

Using experts to help with specialties is a great way to increase the pool of potential MSDs. Hunt has a marine biologist – a past student – who adds real value to Assava’s Coral Reef Conservation specialty. “Her background knowledge of marine science and biology adds more insight to that program,” she says.

Hunt’s experience in the resort -environment has some real commonalities with Lee Johnson’s experience at PADI Five Star CDC Perth Scuba in Western Australia. When Perth Scuba opened 14 years ago, most of the training was comprised of core courses: Open Water, Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver. “We didn’t have a lot of time for the specialties,” Johnson says. “We were running on minimal staff.”

But Johnson always surveyed -customers and asked about their interests and their motivation to take up scuba. “The usual favorites, such as wreck and deep diving, came out prominently in the beginning. So we started running a lot more of those types of courses,” he says. But there was a problem – one which many PADI Pros will recognize. “We would schedule a course and only have two or three students on it; not really enough to make it cost effective,” he recalls. “But you have to run it or lose face. It’s a double-edged sword – you either run it and lose money or you don’t run it and lose customers who won’t sign up for other courses because they believe you won’t run them.”

From a business efficiency perspective, Johnson had to do something. One plan was to sell gear, as most of the specialties have some sort of associated equipment. Another plan was to increase the number of specialties people did. “The MSD program seemed to be the way to do it,” he says.

“We came up with our Master Scuba Diver Challenge. We advertised five specialties and a free rescue course as a package. Divers came in, put their credit cards on the counter and chose five specialties from three levels,” Johnson says. “For level one, they chose two of the more expensive courses to run, such as those that include boat dives. Then they’d pick two courses from level two, which were more knowledge based and often had shore dives. And they chose one course from level three, which is all knowledge-based, such as the Equipment Specialist course.”

After each course, divers get a Perth Scuba T-shirt with “Master Scuba Diver Challenge” on the back and the course they completed listed on the front. They collect all the different T-shirts and, once they complete everything, they get a limited edition T-shirt that lists all the specialties and says “Master Scuba Diver Challenge Mission Accomplished.” Johnson pointed out how effective this recognition was: “Divers loved them and we’d get to see them wearing the shirts all over the place.”

To top this off, Johnson introduced the Ultimate Master Scuba Diver Challenge Weekend competition. All students who completed the MSD challenge would be eligible for the competition. This was like a mini Olympics complete with quiz questions about general diving knowledge, a pool skills assessment and a stamina challenge (all basic stuff and fun focused). The winner got a trip to Sydney with an instructor, all expenses paid, and a brand-new scuba set (Johnson negotiated a great deal on this once-a-year event).

Do Rabbits Hop?

Was this a success?  “We ran the first challenge four years ago and we had 43 participants who came through that year. We were picking up students who had a few specialties under their belts from different dive shops as well. We let them enter as long as they did their last specialty with us,” he says.

Another major benefit of Perth Scuba’s MSD challenge is that many instructors started to really enjoy teaching specific specialty courses. “Now we have a group of instructors who have designed their own presentations with local content, such as videos and images of our divers on the wrecks they’ll dive,” says Johnson. “This works really well.”

The last word belongs to Jong-Moon Lee from PADI Five Star Dive Resort Ocean Player Dive in Cebu, Philippines. Ocean Player Dive is one of the largest PADI Dive Centers in the Philippines, with a continuing education ratio pushing 50 percent. Lee mentions the importance of linking specialties: Deep and Enriched Air Diver make a great combination. He makes great use of the facilities at hand: Easy access from shore makes for easy night dives; consequently, PADI Night Diver is the number three specialty at Ocean Player Dive.

But the main point Lee makes about creating Master Scuba Divers is fundamentally simple and an essential ingredient in the MSD success recipe: “Take the time after the Advanced Open Water Diver course to explain about the specialties and the MSD rating. Make sure students know that they have already completed dive one of the associated specialty,” he says.

One thing is for certain – divers will have no interest in something they know nothing about.

If you aren’t already a Master Scuba Diver Trainer or can’t yet teach all the PADI Specialty Diver courses you’d like, contact a PADI Course Director to enroll in a few Specialty Instructor Training courses or a Master Scuba Diver Trainer preparatory course.

The Secret to Increasing Certifications Every Successful Instructor Knows

written by Megan Denny

Certain PADI® courses may be taught at the same time to enhance student knowledge or improve diver comfort. For example, you can teach the PADI Dry Suit Diver Specialty as part of the Open Water Diver® course. In addition to helping student divers gain experience and confidence, the instructor can earn certifications twice as fast.

Selling one person two classes isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Today’s consumers are used to being offered upgrades and add-ons when making a purchase. Whether it’s a phone case, extra legroom on an airplane, or an upgrade to a larger rental vehicle, most people appreciate the option to tailor a purchase to their individual needs.

By combining PADI courses, you give students the opportunity to customize their dive experience. At the same time, you’ll quickly gain certifications to reach the Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) or Master Instructor rating. Even if you’re already a seasoned instructor, increasing your Master Scuba Diver certs can help you win a free 2019 PADI membership renewal.

PADI Open Water Diver + Specialties

By pairing a PADI Specialty with the PADI Open Water Diver course you can add value to your Open Water program and boost your certification numbers. Here are a few ways to go about it:

Open Water and Digital Underwater Photographer
Underwater photography consistently ranks as one of the top interests for new divers. Invite students to make their scuba experience #instaworthy by bundling the Digital Underwater Photographer Specialty Course with Open Water. Here’s how to link the two courses together:

  • Integrate the Digital Underwater Photographer knowledge development at any point during the Open Water course
  • Conduct the Digital Underwater Photographer Level One photo dive in confined water any time after Confined Water Dive 3, or in open water as part of the tour portion of Open Water Dive 4.
  • Complete the additional open water dive for Digital Underwater Photographer Level Two certification at any point after the student diver’s Open Water certification dive.


  • You must have the relevant PADI Specialty Instructor Rating
  • Do not conduct more than three training dives in one day

Open Water and Full Face Mask
One of the most-clicked PADI blog posts of all time is The Full Face Mask Diving Experience. Fulfill divers’ curiosity by combining the Full Face Mask Diver specialty with the Open Water Diver course. Here’s how:

  • Integrate knowledge development any time during the course
  • Conduct the Full Face Mask Confined Water Dive any time after Confined Water Dive 3.
  • Conduct Full Face Mask Dive 1 after Open Water Dive 3.
  • Integrate Full Face Mask Dive 2 with Dive 4, or complete both Full Face Mask Dives after Dive 4.

Open Water and Peak Performance Buoyancy
The most popular course combo we see is Open Water with the Peak Performance Buoyancy Specialty course (PPB). Add PPB knowledge development whenever its convenient during the Open Water Diver course and conduct Peak Performance Buoyancy Dive 1 skills any time during Dive 2, 3 or 4. The student must complete one additional dive beyond their Open Water course dives to complete the Peak Performance Buoyancy Dive 2 skills.

Other specialties that may be linked to the Open Water Diver course include:

Altitude Diver– integrate knowledge development at any time and conduct all four Open Water Course dives at altitude. Complete Altitude Dive 1 skills during Dives 2, 3, and 4. Lastly, conduct one additional dive after the Open Water Course dives to complete the Altitude Dive 2 skills – and the specialty course.

Delayed Surface Marker Buoy Diver (DSMB) – integrate knowledge development any time during the Open Water course. Conduct DSMB Dive 1 skills any time during Dive 2, 3 and 4. Conduct another dive beyond the Open Water Course dives to complete DSMB Dive 2 skills, and the DSMB Specialty.

Dry Suit Diver – integrate knowledge development, confined water performance requirements and conduct all four course dives in a dry suit. Complete Dry Suit Dive 1 skills during Dives 2, 3, and 4. Conduct another dive after the Open Water Course dives dives to complete the Dry Suit Dive 2 skills, and the Dry Suit Specialty.

Sidemount Diver – integrate knowledge development, confined water requirements and practical application anytime during the Open Water course. Complete Sidemount Dive 1 skills during Dives 2, 3 or 4. Conduct Sidemount Dives 2 and 3 after Open Water Diver certification. Minimum student diver age is 15.

Specialties without Dives
Enriched Air Diver may be combined with any core PADI course, even Open Water.* Integrate Enriched Air knowledge development, the pre-dive simulation and practical application exercises at any time during a PADI scuba course. Enriched air dives are not required, however, the minimum student diver age is 12.

* The student must complete their Open Water Diver certification before being certified as an Enriched Air Diver, but you can plan dive 4 using Enriched Air.

The Project AWARE Specialist and AWARE Coral Reef Specialty courses do not require dives and may be added to any PADI course. Consider offering these certifications as part of an Eco Master Scuba Diver program.

Emergency Oxygen Provider + PADI Rescue Diver
The Emergency Oxygen Provider Specialty course can replace Rescue Exercise 9 in the PADI Rescue Diver course (first aid for pressure-related injuries and oxygen administration). Incorporate knowledge development at any point before or during your Rescue Diver course.

Bridging the Gap

Open Water to PADI Advanced Open Water
Divers often say they don’t feel ready to enroll in the Advanced Open Water course. But as every PADI Pro knows, Advanced Open Water is the ideal way for new divers to build confidence and improve their skills.

An easy way to help divers take the next step is to conduct an adventure dive following Open Water Dive 4. Dive Against Debris, Peak Performance Buoyancy and Underwater Naturalist are great options. Incorporate the knowledge development into your briefing, and when the dive is over, ask students if they had fun and what they learned. Then tell them that’s what the Advanced Open Water class is all about!


  • Students who choose to enroll in your Advanced Open Water class must complete the Continuing Education Administrative Document (10038 or EU 10541) before the second Adventure Dive.
  • Do not conduct more than three training dives in one day.

Advanced Open Water to Specialties
Each Adventure Dive from the Advanced Open Water Diver course may count toward Dive 1 of a standardized PADI/AWARE Specialty Diver course (or vice versa) if the diver has completed the relevant knowledge review. Your Advanced Open Water Divers may not realize they’ve completed half of a PADI Specialty course (see pages 32-33 of the 2018 PADI Instructor Manual to view the number of dives required for each specialty, most only require two dives, but some require three or four).

Exception: For the Digital Underwater Photography Specialty, Dive 1 may credit as an Adventure Dive only if it is conducted using scuba equipment in open water. If not, then credit Digital Underwater Photography Dive 2.

Discover Scuba® Diving to Open Water Diver
By conducting Confined Water Dive 1 skills during the Discover Scuba Diving (DSD) program, you can:

  • Add value to your DSD program
  • Help student divers build confidence
  • Award Confined Water Dive 1 credit to successful participants
  • Sell more Open Water classes

Students who successfully complete the confined water skills and participate in the optional open water dive may also earn credit towards Dive 1 of Open Water. Brief and conduct Open Water Dive 1 skills with DSD participants who have previously mastered Confined Water Dive 1 skills. Students who are successful earn credit towards Open Water Dive 1.
Open Water to Rescue Diver
PADI Open Water Divers can improve their confidence, become better buddies, and get a taste of the serious fun divers have in the PADI Rescue Diver course by participating in the confined water session. It’s also a great way to keep divers active during colder months when open water diving may not be possible.

Open Water Divers may participate in both Rescue Diver Knowledge Development and Rescue Exercises in confined water. They may also earn the Emergency Oxygen Provider Specialty which takes the place of Rescue Exercise 9 (see above).

IMPORTANT: Do not combine the performance requirements for two or more dives, such as Adventure Dives or specialty course dives, into one dive so that credit is received for more than one rating.

By linking PADI courses, you can become a MSDT, or Master Instructor much faster than teaching each course separately. Plus, you’ll help students work their way to the prestigious Master Scuba Diver rating. Last but not list, you might win a free 2019 renewal by participating in the PADI Master Scuba Diver Challenge.

Avoiding an Earful

Written by DAN Staff

In the first metre/three feet of a descent, a diver’s ears are subject to a 10 percent increase in ambient pressure. At two metres/six feet, it’s a 20 percent increase. At 3 metres/10 feet the pressure is sufficient to cause blood vessels to burst and fluid and blood to be drawn into the middle ears. Despite the noticeable change in pressure, many divers don’t equalize their ears earlier enough upon descent. Injury statistics show that ear injuries are one of the leading problems divers face – even though preventable with proper equalization. As an instructor, you have the opportunity to help divers avoid ear injuries by firmly establishing the importance of equalization early in their training.

Take a moment to brush up on your knowledge of ear injuries so that help improve your student divers’ comfort in the water – now and for the rest of their diving careers.

Perforated Eardrum

Rupture of a tympanic membrane (eardrum) is generally the result of a failure to equalize the air-filled middle-ear, or from a too-forceful Valsalva maneuver. The condition is often painful and vertigo may follow, although the rupture may relieve the feeling of pressure in the ear. Most perforations will heal spontaneously within a few weeks, although some cases may require surgical repair. Perforations allow water to enter the middle ear, which creates a significant risk of infection. Thus, evaluation by a doctor is crucial. Congestion, inadequate training and descending too fast can increase a diver’s risk of eardrum perforation.

Inner-Ear Barotrauma

Like an eardrum perforation, inner-ear barotrauma can be caused by a failure to equalize or by an aggressive Valsalva maneuver. A significant differential between the ambient pressure and the pressure in the middle ear can cause an outward bulging of the round window of the inner ear. This can lead to symptoms even in the absence of a rupture. Divers with inner-ear barotrauma may experience severe vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, a sensation of fullness in their ear and involuntary eye movements known as nystagmus. Should the round window rupture, the loss of fluid in the inner ear can damage the hearing and balance organs and surgical repair may be required.

Middle-Ear Barotrauma

Middle-ear barotrauma is a condition in which pressure in the middle-ear space is significantly lower than the pressure outside of the ear. This results in a relative vacuum that causes the eardrum to bulge inward and the tissue of the ear to swell. Fluid and blood from ruptured vessels leak into the middle ear. This can be caused by a failure to equalize or an obstruction of the Eustachian tubes (usually by mucus) during descent. Divers with middle-ear barotrauma generally report initial discomfort, which can intensify to severe pain, and ears that feel clogged or stuffy.

Facial Baroparesis

Facial baroparesis is the reversible paralysis of the facial nerve due to increased pressure in the middle ear. In some people this pressure can impair circulation to a facial nerve that’s located close to the ear. This can happen while flying or diving, and symptoms usually include numbness, tingling, weakness and paralysis of the face. Facial droop can sometimes be seen and can cause concern, but facial baroparesis often resolves spontaneously. Divers who exhibit symptoms of facial baroparesis should seek medical attention to rule out other serious conditions.

For more information about ear injuries and safe diving practices, visit