by Randy Piper
While safety is important for all of us, Scuba diving is one of the safest sports out there. However, since it’s not in the area of the mainstream sports, an accident becomes high profile very quickly. In addition to that, some Instructors use it inappropriately to promote their Scuba classes. All Scuba Instructors care about their students. It’s ludicrous to think that money is the primary motivation to teach a scuba class, since the time spent with a student can and sometimes does bring a conscientious Instructor’s wages down to pennies per hour.
Safety is everyone’s concern, no matter what you’re doing. Having trained close to 10,000 divers over 25 years at Poseidon, we strive to keep you safe while you are in awe of this beautiful underwater world. Scuba is no different. However, Scuba diving is one of the safest sports you can get involved with, as long as you follow some standard common sense rules.
When a person goes hunting, s/he also follows some rules and has a great time. However, if that person leans their rifle up against a barbed wire fence, before s/he climbs over it trouble can easily follow them. That rifle may not fall and discharge, in fact that may never happen. There is also the possibility of that happening because the hunter is no longer completely in charge of his/her own actions. If that happens, and the rifle goes off someone can be hurt or killed. By the way, statistics show a much higher incidence of hunting, versus Scuba diving accidents per year.
PADI Instructors and facilities lead the way in safety. At Poseidon, we work hard not only to maintain, but to advance our training and education so that we don’t just deal with a problem, but stop it before anything happens.
PADI Standards allow an Instructor to take up to eight beginning students into the open water at a time. The number is up to Instructor judgement based on conditions. Poseidon Adventures teaches with very conservative supervision. Each instructor will take a maximum of two beginning students into the open water at a time, to accomplish their skills.
This is not because we have one hand for each student. If a student has a problem, the Instructor will focus all attention on that person and if there are too many people underwater at that time, things can become confusing for the remaining students. All of the students have mastered the skills in our in-house pool before getting to the open water and realize they need to stay with their buddy. So, they will surface together with the Instructor.
The local environment doesn’t present the same visibility that the Carribean has most of the time, so those ratios can easily be increased as the water temperature and visibility increase. This sport is serious fun, so at Poseidon we want to make sure students learn and retain the proper techniques. That’s why we have more than one pool session. Students get a chance to reflect on the skills’ they previously learned and then practice them again, until they get it right. If the student isn’t ready to do their dives, due to lack of confidence, we can easily bring them up to speed later, since we have our own pool.
I was talking to the owner of Bell’s Amusement Park a few years ago about doing Discover Scuba courses and he made the comment that Scuba was too equipment and labor intensive for it to be profitable at the park. He put a lot of people on a ride for a short time and because lots of people were able to have a good time, he was able to make up for the low price with large volume.
Teaching Scuba Diving is our passion. We do it because we love it and we also enjoy the people we meet when teaching. What we make off the classes will never make us rich financially, but it will make us rich emotionally. It’s so much fun to watch someone grow exponentially in something they’ve never tried before. The more of life you can experience, the better, more well rounded person you will become.
Students need to be able to take care of themselves and their buddy after the class has been successfully completed. They won’t have the Instructor around to hold their hand for dives after certification (as if you want that to happen). It is also obvious that during the class, Poseidon Instructors will need to administer rules about where you are and what you’re doing during the pool and Open Water dives. This doesn’t detract from any of the fun you’re having. On the contrary, it teaches you good habits that will serve you well throughout your diving career. We also have certified Assistants help the students while in the water and lead them from the shore to the Instructor.
All PADI Instructors have been trained to account for students at all times. This in no way detracts from your responsibility as an adult. When you first learned to drive a car, you had a lot of apprehension. Scuba Diving is the same way. We’re here to teach you the skills to be a good safe diver, you need to continue diving if you expect to increase your skills. No Instructor can guarantee that each student is accounted for 100% of the time. Every Instructor has lost sight of a student. The important thing is that you were trained in the proper procedures, so if you get lost you know what to do. Search for one minute, then surface.
Since Poseidon has been in business for 25 years, we have been successfully tracking students and know where they are at any given time. That is a skill every PADI Divemaster candidate learns and masters. This skill follows through to becoming an Instructor and a group leader on trips. Having done hundreds of trips, we make sure that after each dive every diver is accounted for before the boat moves.
Since we’re diving to have fun, we want to make sure that we are safety conscious at all times. If there are any poor environmental conditions, such as an electrical storm, Poseidon will not allow students to enter the water. That is a statistical problem that is much more prevalent for golfers, than divers. But it’s still a prudent philosophy. Since you could be the highest point in the immediate area.
All PADI Instructors and Assistants are trained in First Aid, CPR, Oxygen administration and Automated External Defibrilation. This training prepares us to handle an injury should it ever occur.
When we are at the lake or pool, we always have a full first aid kit with oxygen with us.
Should an emergency ever occur, we have the knowledge and skill to handle it.
During Poseidon’s Rescue Diver course, the students prepare an Emergency Assistance Plan. This is gone over again during the Divemaster course, where it is also required by PADI. This allows us to keep current plans for each location on file to use when the need arises. This plan clearly states how to best handle general emergencies, as well as what to do regarding specific situations at that location and it has information such as the nearest hospital and the best mode of emergency transportation.