Diving instructor faces court over death

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EnriqueL6

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Hubert, NC
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200 - 499
Previous posts mentioned how we do not have all the details, which I agree is imperative in understanding who’s at fault and why it happened. I am not a SCUBA instructor, but have been an in instructor for various subjects in the military along with being a civilian firearms instructor. One of the things I’ve seen is BAD instructors, but I think everyone already knows that. The other thing I’ve seen plenty is BAD criteria to be an instructor. As a SCUBA instructor you have to be able to lead, meaning you have to motivate, mentor, instruct, teach, and supervise entry level divers. I have met many SCUBA instructors who fit that billet perfectly, or close. I have also met many SCUBA instructors that in my mind couldn’t lead a fish through water. I had the unfortunate fate of having one of those instructors for my rescue diver course. He was incompetent and I ended up dropping the class and demanding a refund. I can understand nervousness, but when you teach the students the wrong techniques and have to correct yourself after the students point out that the PADI video stated different…that’s beyond nervousness. Also, this instructor had ample instructor time as he was an instructor for over five years.
My brother finally decided to obtain his SCUBA license a few years ago. One of the students in his class could not grasp even the basics of SCUBA diving (i.e. clearing mask, assembly of gear, emergency procedures). After two weeks of instruction, he still failed to grasp the basics (at least in my eyes). After the check-out dives, he was awarded his certification and is now certified to dive without an instructor. I could not believe that! In my mind, people like this are in large part a reason why we have to have these posts. In addition this was a perfect example that if you pay enough money, you will get your certification and probably even an instructor rating (just my assumption).
Every year I read mishap reports from scuba diving and in many of the incidents I can say that this case has been proven. I personally dropped and refunded the money of firearms students I have had. If I did not feel they had the competency or responsible enough to have a concealed carry permit, I did not let it happen. The more people we let through the cracks the more we will need laws in place to prevent things like this and US responsible people lose the freedom to decide what we want to do.
Speaking of the DSD program, my sister participated in this even though I strongly urged her to obtain her license from a competent instructor. When she returned, I was curious to know what the DSD taught her. She could not explain the basics, nor perform them. In fact, she told me she only received a 30 minute class that primarily consisted of “follow me and you’ll be ok”. When I asked her about emergency procedures, she gave me a deer in the headlights look. This DSD was done in Mexico and I want to strongly believe that it does not happen in the United States, but I’m usually wrong about those things. All it takes is one instructor or diver to do something stupid and we all have to pay for it.
 

mitsuguy

Captain
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st croix, usvi
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When she returned, I was curious to know what the DSD taught her. She could not explain the basics, nor perform them. In fact, she told me she only received a 30 minute class that primarily consisted of “follow me and you’ll be ok”. When I asked her about emergency procedures, she gave me a deer in the headlights look. This DSD was done in Mexico and I want to strongly believe that it does not happen in the United States, but I’m usually wrong about those things. All it takes is one instructor or diver to do something stupid and we all have to pay for it.

A DSD is extremely simplified. It basically takes the absolute required knowledge to dive and teaches it to a student. A typical DSD from start to finish (classroom, skills development, and the dive) takes somewhere between 2 and 4 hours, most of the time, between 2 and 3 hours. If you really think about it, what knowledge do you absolutely have to have if you are going to basically be hand held for a 30-40 minute dive to a max depth of 40 feet. Clear your ears, never hold your breath, heres a few hand signals (including out of air), don't mess with the BCD unless you are on the surface and want to inflate it to float, and thats really it. Only three skills are taught, including clearing a mask, reg removal/replacement, and reg recovery. Everything else is up to the instructor to do for you, essentially.

I would imagine that there is very little knowledge retention past a day or two after the DSD, as you don't sit and practice over and over. Others never truly pay attention. I have literally briefed a group of DSD's and seconds later got questions that I was very clear on - the questions weren't looking for elaboration, they were because they didn't pay attention to me.

Now, all of this being said, I have heard of people doing DSD's and being on dives in excess of 70-80 feet, which is ridiculous to me.
 

Tricia

Contributor
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Paris, France
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As Mitsuguy wrote: "Clear your ears, never hold your breath, here's a few hand signals (including out of air), don't mess with the BCD unless you are on the surface and want to inflate it to float, and thats really it."

As with many divers, I have a habit of talking about the joys of diving enthusiastically to non-divers, which is perhaps not such a good thing. Recently, a colleague went on her honeymoon to Guadeloupe and while there, she and her husband suddenly decided to do a "DSD" (they had not mentioned this to me before they left and I'm not even sure it was a PADI-type DSD).

After a briefing of maybe 30 minutes, Marie went first and after a few minutes, had terrible pain in her ears, so she panicked and surfaced - fortunately, they were not deep, less than 5 feet. The instructor explained to her about clearing her ears (as if she hadn't understood the first time) and they went back down and it was fine.

But later, her husband confirmed that during the briefing, the ear clearing had never been mentioned! So obviously the "instructor" forgot to tell them... :shakehead:

My takeaway from this: the next time I'm babbling enthusiastically about diving to a non-diver, I need to caution them that if they decide to try it while on holiday, they need to take some serious training from an instructor certified by one of the agencies (and not just some guy on the beach with scuba tanks, which I think was the case here).

Sorry to hijack the thread. And yes, I am curious to see what happens in May 2011, when this goes to court.

Trish
 

mikey6879

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London
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This sounds like an awfull story :( shame on the instructor!
However i wouldn't let this scare any new scuba divers, 99.9% care about student other anything else, and once you are certified scuba is a very safe sport.
 

mitsuguy

Captain
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st croix, usvi
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Whats interesting is that normally certified divers are responsible for their own weights - but in most cases its the instructor or dive master who says how many to take - we dive professionals need to make the right judgement when doing so

What is the "right judgement?"

Someone who looks at me and says "well, you weigh a tad over 200, so, you should wear 6% or 10% of your weight in lead in saltwater." My reply to them would be that they have no idea how much weight I need and if I were to wear even 12 lbs of weight, I would be severely overweighted. So, because they went by a guideline and were incorrect, I could (or my significant other/family) could sue and one of the allegations be that I was overweighted by the DM or Instructor?

The reality of it is that when I am out diving for fun or photo stuff, I wear 4 lbs, and am super comfortable in the water, and I can actually get away with no weight whatsoever and be a little light at the end of a dive...

The problem again is that there is no hard set rule as to weighting, its all a guess. Now, today, on the boat, a guy was requesting 20 lbs of weight, he weighed 180, and had a 1 mil wetsuit on. I advised him to go with 12 or 14 lbs, and he was perfect with 14 lbs...
 
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