The Rescue Diver course is often mentioned as being one of the most rewarding courses a diver can be involved in. It takes a recreational diver into the realms of being more aware of their own safety whilst diving as a whole and also of others as they enter, exit or whilst diving in the water.
It also gives you the skills necessary to actively participate in a diving emergency, something that requires a number of skills that a non recue diver could not assist with due to lack of knowledge and experience.
Being a rescue diver is a prerequisite to starting the Divemaster course; the first level of being a professional diver. Self rescue and safety awareness skills start during the rescue course and then continue and develop as you start to train as a professional.
During the course a diver is also continually having to deal with equipment while having to kit up and dekit many times during the scenarios and skill practise sessions. This leads to a diver being more aware of their own equipment, where everything is and how to quickly remove and replace it due to the nature of the skills performed during the course. This improves a divers ability in this area to a new level too and is a good way to really know how to reach all areas of your equipment, especially if it is relatively new to the diver. The course also introduces the diver to new equipment such as a pocket mask, something they will always carry with them once a qualified rescue diver.
A good rescue diver course should be completed over at least 3 to 4 days, especially if there is a group of students. The first day is spent completing the knowledge development and going over key skills that will be practised during the course and passing the final exam. The emergency assistance plan can also be discussed at this time in preparation to getting it completed ready for the two rescue scenario's on the final day. The emergency assistance plan consists of creating a document which includes all relevant emergency information for a particular dive site if required. If anyone needs to recap on their first aid and CPR skills this is also a good opportunity to do this. Oxygen administration can also be covered at this stage and the dive centres oxygen system can be explained and shown so that students fully understand how this works as these systems can vary from one manufacture or model to another.
Over the next 2 days the rescue skills and sessions can then be taught until each individual student has fully completed each part successfully and to the standards required. They are then ready to complete the 2 rescue scenario's where they put their new found skills into practise by being given 2 simulated situations to complete 2 successful rescues from start to finish. The scenario's will really get students thinking of and demonstrating the most effective and appropriate skills and techniques to use that they have learnt and mastered during the course, they will then use these to conduct well thought out and efficient rescues.
The course is certainly challenging, both mentally and physically but this is another aspect which is highly rewarding. Divers come out of the course more educated and experienced than when they started, with a real understanding of diver safety which will be put into practice for the rest of their diving career.