Old timers will say that the PADI Rescue Diver course is too short -- it's two evenings of classroom (at about 2.5 hours each) which includes a video and a 50-question test that I missed two on (if you have more than a 10-minute swim to get a non-responsive diver out of the water then give 'im two rescue breaths and start towing immediately, don't bother with rescue breaths. Also, I confused two kinds of releases.) Then two days from about 9am to 3pm of drills and such in and around open water.
I'd agreed initially that it was too short. But from a rescue and lifelong learning and pedagogical standpoint I'm starting to change my mind.
Two pieces of data crossed my brain. And not in this order.
- Just 50 feet away from us on Sunday were some EMT/firefighter types in red-and-orange drysuits doing drills and... they were doing exactly the same thing we were doing.
- Further reading about courses for professionals and members of police/firefighter/emergency teams indicates that indeed, we have learned all the skills we pretty much need to know.
Our instructor drilled into our heads that we need to practice these skills. I had the feeling he thought he was talking to brick walruses over it.
But it seems the whole dang point of the thing is that we're not going to learn much more. No, we need practice and we need that over a long period of time.
If we use three criteria to consider what should be taught, they'd likely be:
- What keeps people from getting killed?
- What is hard to learn?
- What needs to be done immediately?
And 1 and 3 are basically to make contact with the panicked diver.
2 is probably rescue breathing while towing a non-responsive diver in the water.
1 and 3 are fairly easy to teach. Number 2 takes a lot of practice. But the thing is that practicing a day or two more in the rescue diving class isn't that likely to really help you do it in the long run. You have to practice it regularly. This is why it doesn't make any different to do a longer course. You have to come back and do the exercises regularly anyway. So you may as well make the class just four days.
Why bother to do two days open water? You can really only practice one kind of getting an unresponsive diver out of the water no matter where you go (at Dutch it was a shore rescue). At a pool you'd have to do a lifeguard exit. If you were doing the class on a boat you'd have to figure out something else.
The reason is that search and recovery need to be open water because you have to be able to have a body 30 feet down.