Help Divers Avoid Injuries

Written by DAN Staff

In the Northern Hemisphere spring is a great time to maintain both equipment and skills in preparation for warmer weather and a busy dive season. As many divers make sure their gear is ready to get in the water, you can help them make sure they’re ready, too. By familiarizing yourself with the most common causes of diving accidents, you can offer tips for effective skills practice.

What causes the most accidents?

Accident analysis data has shown that there are five leading causes of preventable dive accidents and injuries:

  1. Uncontrolled ascents
  2. Ear and equalization problems
  3. Poor air management
  4. Diving beyond personal limits
  5. Failure to adequately plan and perform dives

At least one of these factors is present in the vast majority of reported incidents.

How can you help divers avoid incidents?

A great way to minimize problems is to get divers to practice foundational dive skills. Encourage your students and customers to consider which of their skills need improvement and suggest ways for them to practice these skills. Ascents, buoyancy control, ear equalization and emergency weight release at the surface can all be practiced in the pool. Divers can work on air management and dive planning by calculating their air consumption and planning practice dives with you or an experienced buddy.

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What else can you do?

Some dive accidents are caused by unexpected equipment problems. Make sure divers know how to maintain, store and care for their gear. Also suggest they practice responding to different gear failures – regulator malfunction or stuck BCD inflators – by reviewing air sharing skills, freeflow regulator breathing and disconnecting their low pressure inflators underwater. Although not common issues, divers should feel comfortable responding to such events before they get in the water.

For more information about safe diving practices or preventing dive accidents, visit DAN.org.

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Emergency Care Refresher

Written by DAN Staff

Being able to quickly and correctly provide emergency care during a dive incident can be the difference between a positive outcome and a fatality. Regardless of your level of personal experience with emergency management and response, providing adequate care requires regular refreshers of even the most basic skills, such as measuring vital signs. Accurate assessment of an individual’s condition not only provides EMS personnel with a good baseline for care, but can also help expedite needed medical interventions, and provide a valuable timeline of a patient’s condition. How well do you know your basic life support skills? 

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Time

Time is a fundamental metric in emergency response. Regularly recording the patient’s condition and the corresponding time is important to creating an accurate timeline of the patient’s symptoms. A timeline can be used to determine whether the patient’s condition is worsening and can dictate medical interventions. Seriously ill patients should have their vital signs reassessed every few minutes, while patients who are stable may reasonably have their vitals checked less frequently.

Level of Responsiveness

A patient’s level of responsiveness (LOR) can be one of the most revealing indicators of well-being. LOR is generally measured with four basic questions:

  • What is your name?
  • Where are we?
  • What time is it?
  • What happened?

If an individual can answer all of these questions with reasonable accuracy, you can quantify the LOR as “Alert and Oriented to Person, Place, Time, and Event,” which is frequently written as “A+Ox4.” In the event that a person can’t respond to these, or is unconscious, you can further measure LOR by determining if the patient is responsive to verbal or physical stimuli. While this measurement may provide useful information to professional responders, it’s not likely to change the care  you provide as a dive professional.

Pulse

Pulse can be a very effective indicator of an individual’s wellness, especially if you measure strength and regularity of the beat in addition to frequency. To assess a pulse, place two fingers gently on either the carotid artery on the neck, or on a patient’s wrist just beneath the base of their thumb. If you difficulty finding a pulse, first confirm the location of your fingers, and then make sure you aren’t pressing too hard or too gently. Note not just the speed at which the heart beats, but also the strength and regularity of the beat, these can be important factors when determining injury severity.

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Respiration

Constantly monitoring a patient’s breathing is a crucial emergency care step. Because many people will alter their breathing if they know you’re trying to count their breaths, begin counting respirations immediately after measuring the patient’s pulse. Pay close attention to the sound of breath and listen for wheezing, gasping, or labored breathing. These can indicate the existence of specific conditions and be valuable information for healthcare personnel.

For more information on diver health and safety visit diversalertnetwork.org.

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Customer Service and PADI Standards

The PADI® Quality Management program’s primary objective is to ensure that all PADI Members understand the importance of using PADI’s educational system and are aware of their responsibility to adhere to PADI Standards. When members deviate from standards, the program acts to get members back on track. When members demonstrate excellent service and are complimented by their student divers, they receive recognition for their work.

There are times, however, when complaints come in that are more about customer service issues than clear violations of PADI Standards. The PADI Quality Management team won’t tell PADI Members how to run their businesses, but will get involved when a member’s practices fall within the parameters of PADI Standards, specifically the PADI Member Code of Practice (found in the first section of your PADI Instructor Manual).

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Here’s a review of a few common customer service complaints that cross over into standards issues, along with tips to help you avoid disappointing your customers and hearing from the Quality Management team:

1. Customers express concern and frustration when planned dives are changed at the last minute to very different sites than what was initially advertised. For example, the dive is scheduled for a shallow reef and en route the boat captain tells customers they’re going to a deep site with more challenging conditions because one buddy team, or worse, a crew member, requested it.

  • Divers who are prepared and comfortable doing a shallow reef dive may not be ready for a deep, challenging dive.
  • In the Member Code of Practice, you are required to comply with the intent of safe diving practices, consider individual comfort levels and err on the side of safety. Changing to a more challenging site does not uphold these practices.
  • If you must change sites, make an effort to choose alternate sites with dive profiles and features similar to the initially planned dives.

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2. Another common complaint from student divers and certified divers is concern about the equipment provided to them. For example, divers describe extremely tight-fitting BCDs or exposure protection that restrict breathing. Wet suits that are too large are also problematic because being cold may increase decompression sickness risk. Then, there is the marginally working low-pressure inflator or the leaky alternate air source.

  • PADI Members have an obligation to put diver safety first, providing a student diver or novice ill-fitting equipment, or worse, equipment that isn’t functioning properly is inconsistent with this obligation.
  • Proper maintenance is paramount to diver safety, customer satisfaction and risk management. It’s also important that maintenance records be maintained and the maintenance schedule is consistent with any existing procedures or manufacturer recommendations.
  • Enhance your customer service by asking customer if they’re familiar with and comfortable using the provided equipment. Showing your concern for the diver’s safety and enjoyment is prudent and a good business practice.

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3. Customer refunds are a common customer service issue. For example, a customer complains that a “three-week” Rescue Diver course is only partially complete after three months due to continuous rescheduling on the instructor’s part. The customer asks for a referral and the instructor refuses without explanation.

  • PADI Standards require you to issue a referral if the student diver completed at least one segment of the course and has met agreed-upon financial arrangements.
  • After a quality management inquiry, the dive center that employs the instructor determines it’s appropriate to not only provide the referral, but also a refund for the course. However, the dive center never provides a refund to the diver.
  • Alerted that the dive center did not meet its commitment, the quality management inquiry is reopened due to the member’s lack of common honesty and professional obligation to the customer and PADI.
  • Again, PADI Members determine business policies, such as when to provide refunds. However, if you make a commitment to a customer, you need to fulfill that commitment.

The best way to avoid customer service and quality management issues, it to apply good judgment when providing dive services and to be diligent about maintaining professional business practices. Occasionally, take a moment to reread the PADI Member Code of Practice and make sure you abide by all requirements.

Be a Better Person

Written by John Kinsella

The PADI® Adaptive Techniques Specialty program really just makes a good thing better. It builds on the foundational traits of inclusiveness and adaptability, common to all PADI Instructors, Assistant Instructors and Divemasters. The course has detailed insights into considerations and techniques that apply specifically when training and guiding divers with disabilities and generally when working with any diver.

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The PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty helps PADI Pros become more aware and mindful of individual considerations when introducing people with disabilities to diving. It covers adaptive techniques that apply while supervising and training divers with disabilities in PADI courses and programs. It teaches how to properly counsel and direct student divers, based on their abilities, toward certification, experience programs or toward a disabilities-dedicated diving organization for limited certification options.

“I believe this course will get PADI Members thinking outside the box when it comes to skills and get them looking at different ways to teach skills,” says Fraser Bathgate, Advisor Adaptive Techniques for PADI Worldwide. “Teaching divers with disabilities is a very enabling and rewarding experience and it will help open up a new client base to divemasters, instructors, dive centers and resorts. It kickstarts a new way for PADI Members to fulfill more people’s dreams.”

The Adaptive Techniques Specialty course helps PADI Pros learn additional techniques to motivate and encourage not just divers with mental or physical challenges, but also all divers. There’s also an associated subcourse, PADI Adaptive Support Diver, which helps interested divers, from Open Water Diver on up, learn how to be better buddies to divers with physical or mental challenges.

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The course looks at techniques that will help PADI Pros build confidence in their divers through a holistic approach that focuses on improving self-image, building trust, setting goals, managing stress and having fun while solving problems. It emphasizes bringing the diver personally into the solution and looks at specific equipment adaptations and helpful confined and open water considerations.

Confined water workshops let dive pros demonstrate and practice skills to assist divers with disabilities, both in training and nontraining situations. They build confidence before the open water workshops, where dive pros apply the skills learned with an emphasis on assisting divers in/out of water, trim and comfort in the first workshop, and through scenario-based skills practice in the second.

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But the real value of the PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty is that it’s the distilled essence of the skills, experience and goodwill of an international advisory team that has collectively brought diving to thousands of people with disabilities and witnessed first-hand the powerful and often life changing results. Now that experience and good will is ready to spread. Find out how you can help – contact your Regional Training Consultant for more information.

 

New PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty

PADI® Professionals have a long and successful history of adapting training to meet individual needs. This includes accepting people with physical and mental challenges into courses and creatively finding techniques that allow them to master skills and meet course performance requirements.

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The new PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course is designed to build on that foundation by broadening awareness and further exploring adaptive techniques. This specialty course is unique in that it’s designed for PADI Divemasters or Master Freedivers and higher.

The course consists of one knowledge development session that introduces the concept of holistic teaching and explores equipment and logistical considerations. It also includes a workshop that helps you look at dive center accessibility from the perspective of people with various disabilities.

There are two confined water workshops that focus on transfers, entries, exits, assists and communication, along with demonstrating, adapting and practicing skills based on a student diver’s abilities and limitations. The two open water workshops focus on evaluating accessibility, organizing and pacing dives, and adapting skills to the open water environment.

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When training people with physical and mental challenges, you learn to focus on what they can do rather than on what they can’t. You don’t have to take this specialty to work with divers with disabilities, but the knowledge and skills you gain can help you adapt course content to accommodate virtually any student diver. This specialty course will expand your ability to be student-centered and prescriptive in approach when adapting scuba or freediving techniques.

Adaptive Techniques Specialty Course Goals

To help PADI Pros:

  • Become more aware and mindful of individual considerations when introducing people with disabilities to diving or freediving.
  • Learn new adaptive techniques to use while supervising and training divers/freedivers with disabilities in PADI courses and programs.
  • Properly counsel and direct student divers, based on their abilities, toward PADI certification, PADI experience programs or toward a disabilities-dedicated diving organization.
  • Explore additional ways to motivate and encourage student divers with mental and/or physical challenges.

PADI Adaptive Support Diver

The subset course, PADI Adaptive Support Diver, is for divers who want to learn how to best support dive buddies who have a physical or mental disability. The course consists of the same knowledge development session as the full specialty, but only requires completion of one confined water workshop and one open water workshop. The prerequisites are PADI Open Water Diver or PADI Freediver™ (or higher), EFR® Primary and Secondary Care course completion within 24 months and to be at least 15 years old. Completion of the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy is recommended beforehand to give the diver firsthand awareness of proper trim.

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Because the PADI Adaptive Support Diver course is a standardized specialty, divers can credit an Adventure Dive toward Advanced Open Water Diver certification, and can also credit the specialty toward PADI Master Scuba Diver™.

Becoming an Adaptive Techniques Specialty Instructor

To be authorized to teach the PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty course and subcourse, PADI Instructors and PADI Freediver Instructors have the usual two application paths:

  1. Complete a PADI Specialty Instructor Training Course with a PADI Course Director, or PADI Freediver Instructor Trainer who is authorized as a PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty Instructor Trainer.
  2. Apply directly to your PADI Regional Headquarters with proof of additional experience and training.

The PADI Adaptive Techniques Specialty Instructor Guide is used to support the course. Although the guide primarily addresses scuba diving, PADI Freediver Instructors who are Adaptive Techniques Specialty Instructors will find the guide inclusive of freedivers, with reminder notes about cross-referencing the PADI Freediver Program Instructor Guide.

The course launched at the 2017 DEMA Show in Orlando, Florida, USA, and is currently only available in English. For more information, contact your PADI Regional Training Consultant or go to the PADI Pros’ Site under Training Essentials for further resources about training divers with disabilities.

The Magic of Multiple-Level Dive Training

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Written by John Kinsella

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It’s not too often you come across something that gets absolutely no hits on Google. Multiple-Level Training is one of those things. Where you will find it is under Organization in the Teaching Techniques section of PADI’s Guide to Teaching. If it’s been a while since you checked it out, take a moment to read it again, especially if you want to boost your Divemaster and IDC enrollment.

The basic idea is to have several different levels of training happening at the same time and at the same place. Done right, multiple-level training is not only an efficient use of resources; it’s a powerful way to motivate existing divers to consider going pro.

The key is planning and careful scheduling (there’s a great sample schedule in the Guide to Teaching) and to build in time for divers to mingle and socialize. It also helps to have a few certified assistants. Consider these strategies to maximize the cross promotional benefits of multiple-level training:

Have all divers together for the area orientation. Let everyone know what’s going on and take some time to introduce the divers to each other: “Welcome to the dive site, we have three activities going on this morning, the Divemaster Mapping exercise, the Advanced Open Water Diver Navigation Dive, and Open Water Dive One.” Cover the usual points, make sure to mention who is doing what (by name), then split up into individual course groups to finish the briefings.

Keep people moving and don’t waste their time. In this example, you could overview the Divemaster Mapping exercise seamlessly with the area orientation before breaking up the groups. This has the benefit of clearly highlighting an interesting part of Divemaster training to both the AOW and OW divers. Then have a certified assistant keep an eye on the Open Water Divers while they assemble their gear and get ready for your predive brief. Meanwhile you’re running through the (detailed) brief for the AOW Navigation dive and setting the divers up to practice their navigation patterns on land. (Which will certainly get the Open Water Divers attention.)

Make good use of your own time. Once you’ve covered the AOW brief, have those divers assemble and set up their gear and present themselves for the dive at a specific time. Head over to the entry point where the OW Divers are ready to go and your certified assistants have the shot line already positioned. Enter, run the dive and when you exit you find the AOW divers ready to go. You supervise that dive from the surface and while the AOW divers are breaking down their gear post dive, you debrief the OW divers before you debrief them.

By now the Divemaster candidates are wrapping up their mapping exercise and you check with them before everyone settles down to enjoy lunch.

All you have to do now is sit back and let the buzz do your marketing work for you.

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How To Grow Your Dive Business by Marketing to Families

Written by Megan Denny 

According to a recent survey conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute research firm, nearly half of PADI® Divers have children. The survey also found PADI Divers have a median income of $100,000 to $150,000 US. Dive centers and resorts who offer kids programs and cater to families receive the dual benefit of additional revenue, and inspiring the divers of tomorrow. If you don’t currently market your business to families, here are some expert tips to get started.

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How to Attract Scuba Divers with Families

Signal that your dive shop is family friendly by creating a page on your website that describes what family-friendly activities you offer. This could be scuba programs for kids, snorkeling, or non-diving activities to keep kids busy while the parents go diving. Include an image of a smiling child or family on your website homepage inviting site visitors to learn more.

Pro Tip: if you’re just starting off with a kids scuba program, host a free Bubblemaker party for your most socially-connected customers with children. Let them know you’re launching a kids program and interested in their feedback and help promoting it.

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After each program, invite parents to share their experience on TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.. With permission, add the best quotes to the kids program page on your website.

Helpful Hints For Working with Kids
Teaching children requires increased attention, supervision and direction. Consider age and maturity levels as you deliver briefings and explain skills. Keep information simple, and ensure students understand your key points by asking them questions.

Pool games and toys allow kids to build confidence while having fun. After teaching basic skills, sneak in additional practice as a game. For example, challenge students to toss around an underwater toy such as a toypedo without touching the bottom or breaking the surface. For additional activity ideas, review the AquaMission Game suggestions on the PADI Pros’ Site.

Pro Tip: most kids are naturally competitive and want to be better at something than a grown-up. Use this to your advantage when you explain neutral buoyancy. They’ll work hard to be “the best.”

Safety and Other Considerations
PADI’s Guide to Teaching includes pages of recommendations about working with minors. Below is a small sample:

  • Always work with children in public and avoid situations where you and a child are completely unobserved.
  • When possible, parents should be responsible for their children in changing rooms.
  • Have parents sign a permission form before you take or share photos of a child. Also, ask for the child’s permission before taking a photo.
  • Ensure that you and your staff have current training in Emergency First Response Primary and Secondary Care as well as Care for Children.

For additional recommendations on working with children, refer to pages 164-169 in PADI’s Guide to Teaching.

Pro Tip: personally verify how much air young divers have. You may not always get an honest answer either because the diver feels self-conscious about their air consumption, or they may not understand the hand signals.

Pro Tip: spend one-on-one time with each student where you can be seen but not easily heard. Give each student the opportunity to share any fears or concerns they have without other kids or parents around.

Essential tools
Smaller people need smaller tanks, BCs, wetsuits and other gear. Kids also get cold easily, so be prepared with kid-sized rashguards and beanie caps. Also, some children need larger mouthpieces that can accommodate braces. Lastly, carry a slate and pencil set to help kids communicate underwater without going to the surface every time.

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Further reading:
Minimum ages for PADI certification courses
Scuba-themed gift ideas for kids
Scuba and Boy Scouts of America
Scuba and Scouts Canada

The Millennials are coming!

Article written by John Kinsella

You can either run for cover or step up and take notice, but no matter what you do, the odds are that the majority of your dive business will be done with Millennials in the not too distant future. Born between 1980 and 2000, the Millennials are poised to become diving’s largest emerging market, especially for the dive industry and we have exactly what they’re looking for.

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You have to be careful when you start applying sweeping assumptions to large groups of people. Every time I’ve researched “Millennials” I’ve come up against myth and discrepancy. “They all live at home sponging off their parents.” Not so apparently, the majority (nearly 60 percent) have their own homes (and don’t forget that many of them are still in their teens!).

But there are a few significant consistencies. Two of these should have PADI Pros paying attention: Millennials are concerned about their careers. They are receptive to becoming dive professionals and earning a living while doing something that they love. This generation appreciates how the PADI System is structured with recognition for each step they take.

When talking about diving to Millennials, it’s easy for PADI pros to highlight how each course builds towards a professional qualification. It’s simply a matter of taking the time to point out how the PADI System builds, seamlessly, from entry level right through to Divemaster and beyond. Make sure that these people know that earning a professional/vocational qualification is an extremely realistic goal and not a burdensome long-term project: The course they’re enjoying right now is part of that process (and may well qualify for college university credit). All they need to is take well-defined steps and enjoy the rewards and recognition they earn along the way.

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Millennials are also likely to warm to PADI’s commitment to connected learning and social media. Millennials don’t just use social media – it’s an integrated part of their life. Mobile responsive websites and active communication via social media are mandatory. Instagram is a big one with this group, as well as Facebook and YouTube. These are not just ways to interact, fully 88 percent of Millennials get at least some news from Facebook according to the American Press Institute. Again PADI Pros, literally, have it made. From EVE to My PADI Club to learning in the cloud, there’s a PADI solution ready and waiting.

Take a look at the article on Emerging Markets in the 1st quarter The Undersea Journal for more detail on the Millennials (and some other significant emerging markets) and what some of your peers are doing to make sure that diving is at the top of their list.

How to Perfect Your Dive Briefings

Article by John Kinsella

“I’d have given you a shorter briefing, but I didn’t have the time”
Comprehensive, to the point, dive briefings take focused effort.

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Sometimes little things pack a big punch. Consider the ubiquitous dive briefing. This common, short, presentation has a huge influence on a dive’s outcome and, especially in light of the Risk Management article in the 1st quarter 2017 The Undersea Journal, it’s a good idea to make sure that dive briefings get looked at, critiqued, and improved regularly.

The legal case mentioned in the UJ article hinged on a dive guide’s failure to include information on potential environmental conditions. Not mentioning the existence of these inherent, potential environmental conditions became a key factor in the court’s decision: The guide received the majority of the fault; in spite of the fact that the diver signed a release and made a simple procedural error.

So what do you include in a brief? A good start is a review of the Divemaster materials, particularly the slates. There are 10 points to cover:

1 – Dive site name
2 – Site description
3 – Your role
4 – Entry and exit techniques
5 – Dive procedures
6 – Emergency procedures
7 – Signal review
8 – Roster and buddy check
9 – Environmental orientation
10 – Predive safety check

Some of these are simple and self-explanatory, others are a bit more involved and overlap. For example, under site description, make sure to cover topography, points of interest, hazards, conditions, depth, compass headings, facilities, emergency equipment, etc. Without dwelling on the negative, cover hazards and conditions thoroughly. If, say, there are tidal currents at a particular site, mention them (and how to avoid or deal with them) even if you’re diving at slack water.

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Some of these will blend in with dive procedures, especially if there are recommended procedures for dealing with specific local hazards or environmental conditions. Under dive procedures cover such topics as suggested course, how to avoid any problems that may occur due to site hazards and conditions, safety stops, air reserves, group control, etc. Many of these will vary from site to site.

Emergency procedures should deal with local protocols, separation, low on or out-of-air, diver recall procedures, surface signaling devices, and so on. Again, there’s no need for exhaustive scare mongering, but it’s vital to be comprehensive.

How do you get all this into a nice tight brief? Ironically, it takes some time to eliminate unnecessary technicality, jargon and detail, which is the surest way to kill a brief.

A great start is write this information down for each dive site you visit, not only so you have something in hand to make sure you don’t forget anything, but also because the process of writing it down is a great way to focus thinking and make sure nothing is forgotten. And there’s no better way to gather input from staff or clients than to hand them a copy of the briefing and welcome their feedback.

Brevity, relevance and impact matter hugely: take the time and make the effort to achieve them.

Teaching Tips – Emergency Weight Drop

The emergency weight drop skill was added to the revised PADI® Open Water Diver course to teach student divers to drop their weights exactly as they would in an emergency and experience the sudden buoyancy increase. It’s different from, and should not be confused with, the weight removal and replacement skill. Student divers should learn to discard weights at the surface without hesitation, which in an emergency is very beneficial and can greatly improve the situation. Here are a few tips for teaching this skill:

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Tip 1 – How to not damage the pool or lose weights in open water

  • Drop weights over an insensitive or protected area
  • In a pool, use soft weights, place a mat on the pool bottom or tie a rope around the pocket-weight handle or weight belt and hold one end so you can catch the weight when dropped
  • In open water, tie a rope around the pocket-weight handle or weight belt and clip it to a buoy so that when dropped, the weight will stay attached to the buoy
  • Position a certified assistant underwater to catch the weights

Tip 2 – How to make it realistic

  • Demonstrate and encourage a quick pull and immediate release of weights
  • Do not have divers pull weight, then control where it’s dropped
  • Do not have divers hand you the weight
  • You may have divers check the area to make sure all is clear, however, separate this step from the actual weight drop skill

Tip 3 – How to conduct the skill

  • Position student diver in water too deep in which to stand either in confined water or open water
  • Have diver start with regulator in the mouth, empty BCD, floating at eye level and gently kicking as needed
  • Have diver release enough weight to feel positive buoyancy, which does not have to be all weight worn
  • Repeat skill as necessary until diver masters the quick pull and drop