Our membership has been hounding us for years and we’ve finally got it finished, The Rebreather Cave Diving program is here and we are extremely proud of the final product. When we create a new course we have 3 goals in mind:
- Create competent divers
- Allow the standards to be applied worldwide
- Make sure the standards are insurable
As you can imagine successfully accomplishing these three goals with a program as involved as training people to dive in caves using rebreathers was extremely difficult, but we were up for the challenge.
How it all got started:
In the past TDI had distinguished that rebreathers were an equipment configuration and caves were an environment. We allowed cave/rebreather instructors to teach their cave courses utilizing rebreathers but did not have any specific standards for this type of training; instructors were simply allowed to teach the cave courses using the rebreather as an equipment configuration. This worked well for a while, but had a few obvious drawbacks including: gas management, bailout requirements, and out of air drills. The skills for managing many of the aspects of diving a rebreather in a cave are significantly different than diving open circuit. We found that we needed to address these issues. In 2010 a TDI Instructor Trainer, who is also a member of our Training Advisory Panel (TAP), wrote a unique specialty to address these issues. He created a program specifically for diving closed circuit rebreathers in caves, from a basic cavern level up to an advanced mixed gas level. This course has been very successful for him and he has even trained several other instructors to teach his program as well. He has been training extremely competent divers, and we have been receiving rave reviews about his courses. After running this program successfully for the past two years we decided to create a global standard using this unique specialty as our foundation.
Why did it need to be changed?
If you have ever met a cave diving instructor, you would probably agree that they tend to have pretty strong opinions about how things need to be done. While the main focus is always training the most competent divers possible, the route to getting there can vary significantly from instructor to instructor. While we had a great foundation already in place, the rebreather cave program that was being taught was written specifically for one instructor’s teaching style, philosophies, and the environment he was typically teaching in. We decided to reach out to a few other members of our TAP (some of the most experienced cave and rebreather instructors on the planet) and see what they thought. Just as expected there were many heated emails exchanged and at times it seemed we would never come up with a solution everyone could live with.
It wasn’t until we sent two TDI training department staff members into the field for some hands on testing that we started to make significant headway. Already experienced advanced mixed gas rebreather divers but not yet cave divers; they were perfect candidates for this type of research. They dedicated most of their weekends for almost 3 months to the project, spending over 20 hours underground in the springs of North Florida with one of the world’s most accomplished cave instructors (rough life, right?). Through hands on experience and the help of TAP members around the world the rebreather cave diving program was shaped and molded. The result is a set of courses, Rebreather Cavern, Rebreather Introductory Cave, and Rebreather Full Cave Diver, that can be adapted by a wide variety of teaching styles and environments to produce some of the most competent rebreather cave divers in the water.
Now that the standards are written, it’s time to get the course out to the public. We have chosen several instructors and instructor trainers around the world to begin offering the TDI Rebreather Cave Program and are excited to start training rebreather cave divers. For a list of instructors and instructor trainers or for more information on these courses please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This project was a huge undertaking, and there’s no way we could have done it on our own. We would like to give a special thank you to Ben Reymenants, the author of the original CCR Cave unique specialty outlines; without this foundation we would have had to start from scratch. Ben continued to provide TDI with feedback on how his courses have been going as well as provided feedback from the CCR Cave Instructors he had created using his unique outline.
Also, thank you to Randy Thornton and his sons, Josh and Michael, of Dive Addicts in Draper, UT. The Thornton’s are very active instructors and instructor trainers, specializing in rebreather and cave training. The input they provided was priceless, and always seemed to be the nudge that we needed to keep moving forward. Sorry it’s taken so long guys, but we would still be far from finished if it weren’t for your help.
Finally, thank you Lamar Hires, owner of the equipment manufacturer Dive Rite, for providing much of the equipment used and so many hours of his personal time to work with Jon and Lauren Kieren of TDI for their rebreather cave training. Lamar is an icon in the cave diving world and his never tiring dedication to the dive industry and the improvement of training proved to be an invaluable resource for creating the Rebreather Cave Diver courses.
Interested in the Rebreather Cave Program?
Diver Level Courses
Instructor Level Course
Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.