Rescue Diver Course - I can't recommend it based on my recent experience

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ScubaSteve2000

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Sounds like you had a great rescue class. My class was INTENSE! After a briefing it was game on. My buddy and I executed dozens of rescues over two days. We even had to interrupt the final exam to rescue two panicked divers (one for each of us). I swear, every time we turned around somebody was drowning, lost or bleeding. It was great. I still switch tanks right away after a dive and am always ready to head out at a moment's notice. Not stressed. Just prepared.
You had a great class that, hopefully, has you prepared you in case things go sideways someday.
 

Carlos Danger

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On Day 2 there were no rescue scenarious but because of how they acted on Day 1, I was expecting them and constantly watching everyone, I didn't want to take off my wetsuit because on day 1 they had waited each time I took of my gear to have an emergency... so I was stressed all day waiting for something to happen which never did. But the asked me to again demonstrate an unconscious diver at the surface (I had already done this a few times on day 1) and of course this time they picked a 300 lb man. No issues with that but the current was sooooo strong that it was impossible to tow him to the boat. In fact it would have been impossible to swim on my own. I was then criticized for accepting the tow line that was thrown to me when I called for help [though I feel it was the right thing to do].

I remember when I got selected to rescue the 300 lb unconscious diver guy off the bottom w/ surface tow. For me it ended up being WAY harder than I was expecting. That experience was the one that really stuck with me all these years; as a result I like to think I am better prepared for that scenario now than if the training had been a piece-of-cake. In time you may come to appreciate the demanding aspects of your course experiences. I expect you will not be forgetting that stuff anytime soon.

Congrats on completing your training!
 
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WhiteSands

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There are three zones a learner can be in at any one time in whatever he/she is trying to learn:

1) Comfort zone - Too easy. Result: Boredom - no or very little learning takes place
2) Learning zone - Stretched slightly beyond abilities and slightly stressed. Result - Challenging, learner stays focused and optimal learning takes place
3) Panic zone - Learner placed in a situation that is too much for him/her to handle. Result - Learner develops an aversion to whatever he/she is trying to learn. No learning takes place.

It's clear that the OP was placed in (3) - Panic zone. Not the best approach for teaching someone a skill.

Personally I want my training to be hard, and I want to be put in a situation of stress to see how and where I'll fail. But senseless stressing when the learner has shown he/she can no longer cope is senseless.
 

Diver0001

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....snip....

Finally on the 3rd dive the first day I was told I was the divemaster for a group of new students (3 instructors pretending) and they all had emergencies. One man in particular had about 15 emergencies in the 50 minute dive including losing a fin, 2 emergency assents, 1 emergency descent, going the wrong way from the group as fast as he could in low viz (4m) multiple times, out of air multiple times, randomly coming up to me and pulling my regulator out. I felt that it was a bit overdone and really made the course stressful and not in the least bit enjoyable or rewarding.

This is very reminiscent of my dive master training. Day after day, every scenario, ever moment of the dive.... You have no idea how many "students" we "lost" during DM training.... And you know what? .... in reality incidents can degenerate into emergencies very quickly and it can make the training look tame!

You may never decide to become a DM but if you do it sounds like you've had a good peek up the skirt.

All in all I feel that there should be some challenge of course, but I would preferred more focus on training the first day as the course is described and then maybe only a few rescue scenarios the second day which are more reasonable. At a certain point when the emergencies are coming in constantly the rescue diver is unrealistically on guard and in addition to the stress being high the whole day and diminishing any potential enjoyment from the course, it also is not mimicking the sudden onsent of an emergency situation in real life.

It sounds to me like there might have been some improvements possible to the educational approach. "Hazing", as you put it can be useful but usually only if it's applied well. However, provided your scenarios were debriefed in such a way that the lessons you were intended to learn were clear then I think you were luckier than many. It's too bad you didn't have more fun and I mean that sincerely. Rescue is (if done well) a serious course that is supposed to prepare you for when diving isn't "fun" anymore. Having fun isn't incompatible with that but instructors who focus too much on making it like some kind of "entertainment" are, in my opinion, short changing their students....

I can guarantee you from personal experience that if you ever get involved in a real rescue that there is nothing fun about it. Nothing. I've been there and I don't remember enjoying it at all .... In fact it's worse (more stressful) by a long shot than anything you got thrown at you in this course. I hope you never have to be present at an accident but if you are then it sounds to me like your training will at least help you to handle yourself. The only satisfaction you can possibly get out of attending in a real rescue is if the victim lives.

I suspect your instructors may have been acutely aware of this as well.

R..
 

TMHeimer

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Interesting there is so much disagreement on this course being great vs. way too much "hazing". Wonder who's right.
 

Diver0001

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Interesting there is so much disagreement on this course being great vs. way too much "hazing". Wonder who's right.

There is "hazing" and there is "hazing"

Some instructors believe (firmly in some cases) that if a course is difficult then it is valuable. Some even take it to the point that exercises are crafted to be "difficult" as opposed to being a learning experience.

This is especially endemic among tek trainers, many of whom use "difficult" scenarios to try to impress upon the students that what they are doing is "serious business". This kind of "hazing" often doesn't lead to efficient learning.

There is another school of thought, however, which is that the learning value of a given exercise should not be gauged upon how difficult the exercise was made to be. A given scenario should have a "learning goal" defined ahead of time and the exercise crafted in order to bring the student from an "unconscious/unaware" phase of learning to a "conscious/aware" level of proficiency.

Instructors who like this approach are often professional educators who are trained to think like this, which is why I listen to them..... In these cases, instructors who "haze" students are doing it with a certain "learning goal" in mind and exercises that are made to be difficult are done so in order to achieve a very specific learning experience.

So there is "hazing" because the instructor doesn't know better and "hazing" because the instructor *does* know better. For the student it may not always be clear. In reference to the OP I don't have nearly enough information to know for sure which kind of hazing the OP was undergoing.

R..
 

TMHeimer

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Diver0001, I see exactly what you mean. Perhaps like a top professional musician teaching a beginner and having trouble because he has no training as an educator. With 26 dives under my belt and doing Rescue, I would not have wanted the OP's course. But I learned a lot -- at least knew exactly the procedures my instructor wanted. The Op's course would probably benefit me (and many others) now a great deal.
 

Mike

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Interesting there is so much disagreement on this course being great vs. way too much "hazing". Wonder who's right.

I'm pretty confident if 'hazing' enters into the description of a scuba course, that pretty much ends any questions to whether it's appropriate or not.

There is a time and a place to push the limits of a student with stress. It might be more appropriate to introduce a tremendous amount of stress into a course if it's a review of previously mastered material, such as instructors re-taking rescue, where they have a firm grasp of the material and concepts and can perform all the rescues without a problem, you could take it up a notch and yell and scream at them, throw cherry bombs at them, slap them around, maybe hand them an anvil instead of a life ring...

...but for students who are having their first introduction to the materials and skill building exercises, focusing on the execution, comprehension and success of the actual skills seems a bit more appropriate to allowing the student the ability to focus and learn first. I stand by the belief that all the theatrics and games are just bored instructors or just unsohphisticated instructors with little teaching knowledge, probably just mimicking the same way they were taught and have never exeprienced anything else to know any better.
 

Diver0001

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Well.... the thing with rescue, Mike, is that learning to keep your cool under stress *is* one of the skills. In the standards it tells the instructor to make scenarios as "realistic as possible within reasonable logistical and safety requirements".

What I personally do is to reenact a number of real-world accidents, including the one we executed a few years ago that includes pretty much every element of the rescue course you can imagine.

And I do what the standards say. I make them "as realistic as possible". Depending on the scenario, there are buddies screaming in panic, people on shore getting aggressive with the rescuer because they're not moving fast enough, people giving conflicting "orders" ... all trying to be helpful, mind you.... people who are too stunned to do what you ask them to do, crowds gathering and getting in the way.... the whole nine yards. We *do* try to make it like it really was because you just can't learn this stuff by dancing in circles and singing "happy-happy-joy-joy".

There is a point where diving is no longer "fun". Where the rubber meets the road rescues are stressful and the "hazing" in this case is to give the students the benefit of "full immersion" so they get a very good sense of what it was *really* like to be there. It's not to be mean, it's to give them the benefit of our real-world experience. To no do so would be short changing them, in my opinion.

R..
 

fjpatrum

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I missed this thread so I apologize if I'm repeating a lot of things but it sounds like exactly what I'd want from a rescue course, personally.

I think the issue you really have is a miscommunication between the referring shop, yourself, and the certifying shop. It seems to me most rescue courses (I have only read the book for one agency's course and not taken any) have a day or two of pool work before the actual OW scenarios. Sounds like the certifying shop expected to have already completed that with the referring shop but perhaps you didn't?

I would say, discuss that with both shops as a "lessons learned" kind of thing so that they can both be better prepared to meet students' expectations in the future and take as a lesson for yourself to make sure you're clear on any future referrals what you are expected to have completed before you start the referral portion of the course.

If your dive count is accurate, I'd say you handled everything quite well as a new diver and you certainly learned a lot about yourself and emergency situations, even if it was a bit harrowing at the time.


EDIT: After reading Diver0001's last couple of excellent posts, something occurred to me. Do any rescue classes attempt to teach people how to organize personnel for a rescue? i.e. do any of the courses say to establish a "hierarchy" of sorts? In our Search and Rescue training for the SAR team I used to be involved with, that was a key to getting things done efficiently and thoroughly. One of the tasks, which Diver0001's posts got me thinking about, was basically PR. Handling crowds, and expectations of onlookers and non-active participants. Do any of the SCUBA rescue courses teach any of this?
 
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