Qualifications of a DM

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Centrals

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Koh Tao is a well known diving factory. There are several operators specializing in producing beginner divers in a conveyor belt! Zero to hero is readily available.
But there are also serious operators as well.
 

markmud

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There is a big difference between a) having someone with local knowledge show competent visitors around an unfamiliar neighborhood (i.e. what Kimela described), and b) delegating responsibility for one's own safety to a divemaster because one can't be troubled to acquire or maintain basic OW skills.

Situation a) is simply one method of adhering to #2 of PADI's Standard Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding:
Be familiar with my dive sites. If not, obtain a formal diving orientation from a knowledgeable, local source.

I was under the impression that this thread started out as a lament about DM's who are not equal to the challenges of situation b) when they were hired to help with situation a).

Hi Scraps,

You wrapped-up the Chairman's and Kimela's rabbit trail diversion perfectly. Succinct, well written, and you described the dichotomy of the issue very well!

The Chairman's use of the word "sheep" to describe dependent divers may have been the wrong word to use in a learning zone; however, people who are depending on the DM for their safety really need to assess their attitude toward diving as this is a personal safety/survival issue.

In my lifetime, many people have used derogatory words to get my attention, and then they explained how stupid/unsafe my actions were. Scuba diving should be a sheeple-free-zone because the consequences of mistakes are severe. If we must hurt some feelings to get the point across, so be it.
:cheers:
m
 

ginti

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There is a big difference between a) having someone with local knowledge show competent visitors around an unfamiliar neighborhood (i.e. what Kimela described), and b) delegating responsibility for one's own safety to a divemaster because one can't be troubled to acquire or maintain basic OW skills.

Situation a) is simply one method of adhering to #2 of PADI's Standard Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding:
Be familiar with my dive sites. If not, obtain a formal diving orientation from a knowledgeable, local source.

I was under the impression that this thread started out as a lament about DM's who are not equal to the challenges of situation b) when they were hired to help with situation a).

I believe yours isn't just an impression.

In theory, situation b) you described should not exist. However:
{A} new divers, even when competent, require a bit of supervision;
{B} anyway, the way you described the situation a), the DM should be competent and knowledgable;
{C} unfortunately, many divers are NOT competent (!)

Because many not competent divers exist, what should local diving businesses do about them? There are two options:
(1) having overqualified DM, who can manage incompetent people;
(2) doing business as usual, with DMs able to guide but unprepared to manage bad behaviours.

Like it or not, option (2) will lead to bad marketing for businesses because incompetent divers would be unsatisfied and would spread bad words.
 

markmud

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I believe yours isn't just an impression.

In theory, situation b) you described should not exist. However:
{A} new divers, even when competent, require a bit of supervision;
{B} anyway, the way you described the situation a), the DM should be competent and knowledgable;
{C} unfortunately, many divers are NOT competent (!)

Because many not competent divers exist, what should local diving businesses do about them? There are two options:
(1) having overqualified DM, who can manage incompetent people;
(2) doing business as usual, with DMs able to guide but unprepared to manage bad behaviours.

Like it or not, option (2) will lead to bad marketing for businesses because incompetent divers would be unsatisfied and would spread bad words.

Hi ginti,

I think maybe you are overthinking this issue. I believe well trained divers (newbs) need some coaching, not babysitting.

From my perspective, a poorly performing DM is one who takes a diver who does not have a good understanding of NDL and who does not understand staged decompression on a reverse profile dive, and then when the diver's computer indicates (beeping obnoxiously) that she has gone into staged decompression, the DM swims away. That's incompetence.

We can categorize my friend as a sheeple diver, that's for sure. After I helped her clear her staged decompression, she got aboard the boat and yelled out: "What the F-bomb was wrong with my computer?" When, I answered with "There was nothing wrong with your computer, as you went into staged decompression." Her response to that was: "What the F-bomb is staged decompression?"

On that dive, I experienced both ends of this argument. An incompetent DM with a poorly trained diver who allowed her shepherd to lead her (the sheeple) into a den of wolves. This lady has dived all over the world. She is not a bad holiday diver. She should know better. But she enjoys young guys when they give her special attention and is quite happy being dependent on them.

I believe my situation is a scenario that Scraps was referring to.

cheers,
m
 

SlugMug

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I believe yours isn't just an impression.

In theory, situation b) you described should not exist. However:
{A} new divers, even when competent, require a bit of supervision;
{B} anyway, the way you described the situation a), the DM should be competent and knowledgable;
{C} unfortunately, many divers are NOT competent (!)

Because many not competent divers exist, what should local diving businesses do about them? There are two options:
(1) having overqualified DM, who can manage incompetent people;
(2) doing business as usual, with DMs able to guide but unprepared to manage bad behaviours.

Like it or not, option (2) will lead to bad marketing for businesses because incompetent divers would be unsatisfied and would spread bad words.
I mostly agree, but with some slight nuances:

I believe many competent* divers exist. Plenty of incompetent divers also exist. Competent defined as a diver who can safely perform the intended/planned dive, without assistance. (For example, I'm probably a competent OW diver, but definitely not a competent cave-diver). The issue is likely that incompetent divers are VERY noticeable, which creates a sort of Selection Bias. It's also possible you may encounter more of these divers (ex: "vacation divers") in certain areas or roles.

If we acknowledge the existence of incompetent divers, we must also acknowledge the existence of incompetent dive-guides.

I wouldn't say there are only two options, but those are perhaps the big ones. The main story which inspired this thread, was about a Dive Guide who unexpectedly lead divers into a cave & those following were not equipped or trained for that environment. The problem in that story wasn't your (1) or (2), but rather (3) the Dive-Guide lead a group into unsafe behavior, that even "(2) business as usual" should know better.

I think the realistic answer is somewhere between (1) and (2). The limits of (1) are the ability to find highly-qualified persons and pay them enough, which heavily depends on local market conditions. That said, I'm not a fan of thinking within the confines of "our only options are over-qualified or business as usual." For example:
  • Let people know exactly what they're paying for, or not paying for. Basically, honest advertising. Are we basically dropping you off at the site and expecting you to take care of yourself, or do we offer more extensive services like comprehensive save-a-dive equipment, medical equipment, guides trained in rescue & even divers on standby.
  • You could require certain qualifications from divers. I'm not a fan of necessarily requiring dive-logs and advanced cert-cards, but we could at minimum ensure divers are well aware of the requirements (or strongly recommended skills) of the planned dives.
  • You could train, or subsidize training, for all of your dive-guides. I'd probably want every guide to know Stress & Rescue even if they were doing 30ft dives. If I ran a dive-operation, this would probably be high on my list, unless I already had a lot of highly qualified or over-qualified job applicants.
  • Solicit feedback from customers, and perhaps offer a small incentive to get that feedback. Ideally, not to punish employees, but rather to figure out what to fix or improve before it becomes a problem.
I'm sure there's more, but that's just a few ideas off the top of my head.
 

Lorenzoid

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. . .
{A} new divers, even when competent, require a bit of supervision;
. . .

My very first dive after OW certification (in the US) was on the Great Barrier Reef. The dive op, fully aware of how new I was, dropped me and my equally newbie buddy in 20 feet of water with instructions to stay in the general area where, if I recall, we never reached a depth more than about 30 feet. There may have been a DM in the area, but perhaps not. What was notable was that the dive op did not sign me up for a dive beyond my ability to take care of myself.

By the way, the dive was spectacular--this was over 20 years ago--and the thought did not even occur to me that the dive op was not just making it easy for me but also for themselves and that some divers in my position might have gotten indignant that they weren't taken on a "real" dive. Because I felt confident, I was able to enjoy the dive more and notice more things. In retrospect, I felt the dive op's philosophy was spot on. Encourage new divers to gradually increase their capacity and confidence, rather than take them on dives where they feel they need a professional rescuer by their side to save them if something goes wrong. Sure, being so close to the boat, in such shallow water, could be considered under "a bit of supervision," but maybe this is a better way.
 

ofg-1

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I really hate being serious about anything. I read these discussions and it really is a broken record, playing the same tune over and over and over.

If you wanted to know what the qualifications for Divemaster are, it would take you less then 5 minutes to find them online.I found PADI, NAUI, and the WRSTC guidelines in 2 minutes. Most of you don't want to know what the qualifications are, you want to complain about them.

These discussions always degenerate into questioning peoples "competence". I went through my YMCA instructors institute in 1973, at the time, the NAUI folks and the Y folks were piling on PADI, now its the same tune, its just usually the DIR folks piling on everyone else. Someone is always trying to tell people that their certification is better than someone else's, when the fact it, you walk into a resort and show a card, no one cares.

Its easy to avoid "unqualified" dive masters and/or divers. Don't go to a resort. Their business model requires them to put as many people in and out of the water as they can, and try to do it safely. Some are better at it than others. When I go to the Bahamas I rent a boat for the week and have control over who is in the boat.

Avoid commercial dive boats. Same thing, their profit lies in filling the boat with divers, even if it a 6 pack boat. The captains I know want to have a safe operation, however, when you get on the boat you are exposed to divers whose experience ranges from fresh out of class to Mike Nelson. People that dive weekly to those that dive 3 times a year. If you don't want to deal with this, don't get on the boat. There are lots of boats for sale.

Same thing with dive masters. You have those that just started and those who have been guiding divers for 20 years. Do a little research before committing to a dive operator. If you are not comfortable with the operation, stay on the damn boat. If you and your partner cannot agree on something as basic as not following a dive master you just met into a cave, you have bigger issues that you should discuss.

Divemaster, instructor, I don't care who it is, at the end of the day you get to make the choices concerning your personal safety. If you choose to give these decisions to other people, its on you.
 

Bob DBF

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Although there are a number of valid issues with the training and qualifications, the overriding problem is that there are a multitude of different jobs but only one title, DM. What makes it worse is that OW only shows one job that a DM does, all knowing in OW and the dive god savior.

The initial contact sets the idea that the DM is responsible for the divers safety, that impression stays with divers until they learn their way out of it, occational divers may never. I will say that although DMs may not be responsible for a divers safety, they will do their best to insure it.

Perhaps the title dive ops use should conform to the function, and diver training should insure divers know that DM is a title, not a job description.
 

markmud

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If you wanted to know what the qualifications for Divemaster are, it would take you less then 5 minutes to find them online.I found PADI, NAUI, and the WRSTC guidelines in 2 minutes. Most of you don't want to know what the qualifications are, you want to complain about them.

Yep, I did that. Not to the extent you did. The search took 2 minutes at most. I wondered if the topic had shifted to something that I had missed as it was too easy to find the qualifications.

Its easy to avoid "unqualified" dive masters and/or divers. Don't go to a resort.

Yep!

Avoid commercial dive boats.

Yep!

Diving with those operations is like opening a box of chocolates...

If you and your partner cannot agree on something as basic as not following a dive master you just met into a cave, you have bigger issues that you should discuss.
If you choose to give these decisions to other people, its on you.

Yep and Yep!

Perhaps the title dive ops use should conform to the function, and diver training should insure divers know that DM is a title, not a job description.

Hey Bob,

What do you think of the title Dive Guide?

cheers,
m
 

BLACKCRUSADER

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EDIT: it would be nice to know where @BLACKCRUSADER uses to dive in SEA, besides Taiwan, just to make a comparison of your experiences

Philippines most of the time and Thailand and Indonesia. I used to live in Brunei where I did a lot of BSAC courses but that was over 30 years ago and we used to dive in Malaysia back then as well but I refer to dives in the last 2 decades.
 
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