The Self-Reliant Diver
Our view of scuba diving has probably changed somewhat from the time of our initial training program to the time when we’re ready to undertake Rescue Diver training. We’ve broadened our range of experience through repeated diving activities in, most probably, increasingly wider types of diving environments. We’ve learned new skills, ‘tricks of the trade’, amassed more knowledge, and dived with several, if not many, buddies. We’ve gained experience and improved our judgment, the two indispensable keys to safer, more enjoyable diving. Most of our beginner’s jitters and reservations have been conquered and we feel that we’re becoming the kind of diver we always wanted to be; reliable, capable and self-reliant. Self-reliant?
Self-reliance is as important an attribute as a diver can possess. If we haven’t given this much thought before, this would be a good time to do so. Admittedly, the ability to look after all our problems underwater without assistance from a buddy may not be the first thing that would occur to us when we consider what we need to dive safely. After all, the point was made time and time again in our training programs that we always dive with a buddy. This is a good rule that helps us increase our enjoyment of diving, brings people together in a shared social setting and gives us the confidence to explore new areas. So, where does self-reliance come in?
Imagine for a moment that you and your buddy are nearing the end of what has been a truly memorable dive: the walls were vertical and blanketed in the kinds of marine life seen only in the magazines, the warm water was clear enough to see from here to next week, and the prospect of relating the dive to envious friends back home beckons. Then you realize that your buddy is gone. Which of you is responsible for this: you, because you were daydreaming, or your buddy, because he stopped to take just one more photograph? Your own air supply is dwindling and you suspect that your buddy may have even less. It dawns on you that you’re not even sure where you are; you weren’t paying that much attention on the way back, and your buddy was doing the navigating anyway. What should you do?
- Understand your dive equipment
- Take personal responsibility
- Develop self awareness skills
- Become more aware of your underwater surroundings
- Plan for contingencies
- Learn to handle your own underwater emergencies
Looking around more carefully, you see bubbles in the distance and swim to your buddy who’s trying hard to tighten a loose weight belt while balancing the camera and the demands of buoyancy control at the same time. With a little help from you, the crisis is quickly resolved and you’re both soon back on the boat again and reliving the highpoints of the dive. Some new lessons have been learned, too. Never again will you leave the navigation entirely in someone else’s hands, and you wish to seek out a buddy who is independently capable of looking after typical underwater problems without causing you moments of anxious concern.
SDI believes that all divers should be trained to be self-sufficient. This means that each diver accepts the responsibility for his or her own planning, equipment and performance underwater. We are all ultimately responsible for our own safety and conduct on a dive. Any time our problems require assistance from our buddy on a dive, we disrupt the flow of the dive at the least and possibly endanger them at the worst. In fact what we strive to be is the ideal dive buddy; able to plan and lead the dive, capable of looking after most underwater problems, attentive and responsible. We can become better than we are by practicing and refining the basic skills of diving and by developing new skills and knowledge. Many of the new assessment and problem-solving skills that will make you an independently capable diver will be learned in SDI’s Rescue Diver course. Along with this will come the knowledge that you’ll also become a more valuable dive buddy. We look forward to working with you to help you become a safer diver.
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