Within my first four hours on Koh Tao I began my EFR (emergency first response) course which was one of the qualifications I needed before I could actually start on my Divemaster program. The course was finished quite quickly as I have done a couple of EFR courses before and therefore only had to watch a video, answer two knowledge reviews and discuss the results with the two fellow students and the instructor.
Next up was then the Rescue Diver course. It’s a pretty serious course as it deals with everything that can go wrong while diving. The general saying is that it should be the most fun course to do. I had my reservations though as the whole “people often think it’s the most fun course” sounded a bit too much like PADI promoting their course in my ears. But I have to say that I really enjoyed the course and I like feeling better prepared for any emergency – whether it’s just a tired diver needing a tow back to the boat or an unresponsive diver in the water (knock on wood that I will never have to experience that).
I did the Rescue Diver course along with three guys, one of whom is also a DMT now. I have to say that we were really spoiled during the course as we had three or four instructors to teach, act and supervise us whenever we were in the water. It was fantastic!
The Rescue Diver course starts with reading a bunch of theory which I had done back home and then it was time to watch another PADI video. PADI videos are a source of laughter (and tiredness when you actually have to watch them) among most divers as they’re very american and a little too happy-happy-happy. From what I’ve learned in the EFR video everybody apparently goes around with disposable plastic gloves and a pocketmask on them all the time just in case they will ever need to rescue somebody. In the Rescue video they took it a step further and one diver was actually wearing them while giving rescue breaths in the water..
Well after watching the video we all discussed the knowledge reviews in the book and then it was finally time for some in-water action! There are a number of skills and rescue scenarios that has to be practiced. We started out by practicing how to handle both a tired and a panicked diver on the surface where we had some of the other DMTs to act as the divers in distress. The order of the rest of the stuff is a bit blurry in my head but we practised giving rescue breaths in the water while getting rid of the equipment for both victim and oneself and at the same time towing the victim back to the boat. The most important thing in that case is to keep the rhythm of the rescue breaths consistent. We did a few search patterns underwater and then we did a little “fun-dive” where we each buddied up with an instructor. We knew that anything could happen during that dive and we just had to be prepared for anything. My buddy was not nearly as hopeless as I had worried he would be after hearing about other people’s Rescue Diver courses. He did “panic” a bit and took out his regulator underwater, took of his mask and tried to head for the surface at one point. But he only did one thing at a time so it went completely fine.
In the last scenario we did we were on the boat when one of the instructors came and told that he lost his buddy underwater. So after asking the diver various questions and making him alert the boat captain etc. while I geared up we went in the water and started using a surface pattern. We found the missing diver pretty quickly and as expected he was unconcious. So I got him to the surface where I could state that he was not breathing either. So I began the rescue breaths while towing the victim back to the boat. All along I took off the equipment of both the victim and me so I was ready to get the victim up the ladder on to the boat. When on the boat I started CPR and then the scenario was ended.
What I’ve told you in this post is just a basic outline of the rescue procedures, there are more steps in between some of the things I’ve told you. But it was never meant as a rescue course but just to tell you a bit about how it’s done.
The instructors were absolutely great! It was nice to get thorough feedback on pretty much everything I did and it definitely was a fun course to do.
The last thing left to do on the Rescue Diver course was the multiple choice exam which I passed with one wrong answer out of 50 questions. And with that I was certified as a Rescue Diver and ready to get started on my Divemaster course!
Since I have no pictures from the Rescue Diver course (I was busy rescuing people, you know?) I have thrown in a few random pictures just so you can have something to look at.