Other SCUBA Sections

Other SCUBA Training Sections


PADI Emergency First Response/ Rescue Diver

What does it take to get it? 
Watch here and find out.

Aug-Sept 06:  The prerequisites for the PADI EFR/Rescue Diver course are: PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification, (or equivalent from another agency) finish the home study of the course and you must be cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) trained and current by the time you take the actual classroom portion of it.  The "class" portion of this will be a Friday night in the classroom for EFR and testing purposes. The next two days will be in the water running scenarios and mastering the techniques we learned about in the home study.  I was given the Rescue Diver Crew Pack and DVD for my birthday. I'm in the process of doing the home study now.  The actual classroom portion isn't scheduled until 23-24 October.  But, I was having withdrawals not learning anything, so I'm doing the home study early.   My next goal is CPR qualification. I was CPR trained my entire career in the Air Force, but since I got out, my trained has gone by the wayside.  So, I will get my certification this month by pulling a few strings at the 5th Combat Comm. Group and take the class from them since my unit has no certified instructors.  Or, if we do, no one knows who they are. (How stupid is that??)  But, I digress.
  As for the home study, the DVD was ok to watch, but it was not as interesting as watching just diving videos.  Of course, most of the rescue portion is done above water, so it's not going to be a "dive" video.  The study portion of it is ok, also.  A lot of it is common sense with a bit of "diver knowledge" thrown in.  Things will get real interesting when we actually get in the water to try out some of the actual exercises.

15 Oct 06:  As of today, I have received my CPR certification (Thanks to the good folks at the 622 Med Group).  I have also finished all of my Rescue Diver home study material and all 5 Knowledge Reviews.  I found out last week that no one else signed up for the Rescue Course at Diver's Supply so they have cancelled the class. Instead of waiting until next summer when they offer it again, Scuba Steve is going to give me a private class for the classroom work and tests.  As for the scenario's, they need to be done and can't be skipped (not that I would want to skip them anyway.. They are the most fun part of the course) we will incorporate Rescue Diver skills whenever we are in the water and can fit them in.  It will take longer to complete the course this way, but I will, at least, be working on it, which is better than waiting until the summer again.  I'll keep updating here when something changes.

03 Dec 06:  I met with Steve last week.  He said he's going to try to schedule a Rescue Class within the first quarter of 2007.  He said the private class is ok, but doing everything with a class is much more fun and I would learn in better detail if there was a group. I'm cool with that.  I'm not at a point in my life where I can go into my Divemaster training head first because of time constraints, so I'm not in a huge hurry to finish the Rescue.  I can wait until they put together a class.  Plus, waiting may allow someone in my family to purchase the Divemaster Crew-Pak for me for Christmas, so I don't have to pay for it myself. :)

27 Dec 06:  The Rescue Class is scheduled for 17-18 March 2007.  On the other side of the coin, I did get the Dive Master Crew Pack, along with Deep, Wreck and Search and Recovery crew packs for Christmas, so I will start the book portion of those now.

15 Feb 07:  The 17-18 March class has been rescheduled, but only by two weeks. The dates are now 31 March - 1 April.  Steve was on-call the 17-18 with SWAT and couldn't get out of it.  I've waited this long, another two weeks won't kill me.

Week of 26-30 Mar 07:  I started studying all the knowledge reviews and reading the book again throughout the week. On Thursday night, I watched the Rescue DVD again. Friday, I called Steve to verify everything was on schedule and ready to go.  He said, yes and since I was already First Aid and CPR qualified, I didn't need to show up for the EFR portion on Friday night. That was cool with me since it was a 1800-2300 scheduled class.  I told him I'd see him the morning..

31 Mar 07:  0750: I showed up at Diver's Supply ready for the class. Steve and a couple other Rescue students are at the Waffle House next door having breakfast. I went over and joined them. The EFR portion the night before ran late, so they decided to start the class a half hour later this morning.

0830: Got in classroom, made introductions of the 5 students and Steve put in the Rescue DVD that most of us had seen a few times. Most of the time, I enjoy watching diving DVD’s, but this isn’t a real “diving” DVD. It’s all surface stuff and, honestly, it can be hard to stay awake when watching it straight through its 58 minutes worth of information.  Although, this time, I had coffee in my system and watching it meant something because we were actually in the class, so it was easy for me to stay tuned into it this time.  After the DVD was over, we took a short break and then starting going over all the Knowledge Reviews from each of the 5 Chapters.  Since we were supposed to do them all at home, Steve would read the question along with showing slides associated to the questions and call on one of us to give the answer we had. If no one had any questions about the answer, we’d move on to the next one.  If there was a question, we’d stop and talk. There were very few questions and we got through the Knowledge Reviews pretty quick.  After the reviews, Steve handed out our tests and we did the written exam.  He graded each of them as we finished and then went over any wrong answers or any answers we had questions about. I missed one question. I had a 50/50 chance because I knew the answer was one of two possible answers. I picked the wrong one. A 98 for the exam was good enough for me.  Two guys aced the test and the other two got a 96 and 92.  After the test review was lunch and getting ready for the pool.

1200: We’re in the pool.  We started our exercises by doing an Alternate Air Exercise but, instead of swimming straight up we had to swim the length of the pool. There is a bit more to that due to the fact you are horizontal as opposed to vertical.  We all did it with very little problems.  After that, out next exercise was “panicked diver at the surface.”  Since Steve needed to show the divers what to do, I got the honor of being the first panicked diver.  Steve showed how to make contact at the surface and if all else fails, 2 ways to make contact below the surface and get them subdued and buoyant so they will settle down.  After that, we dealt with an unresponsive diver at the surface that turned into a panicked diver in an instant.  Then we dealt with a panicked diver at the bottom trying to bolt to the surface. And then we dealt with an unresponsive diver at the bottom.  This was the first exercise I had a problem with.  The first time, I laid down on the bottom like the unresponsive diver to check on him and then I tried to get us both up at the same time.  It was very awkward and I even cramped my leg about half way through it.  I got us to the surface, but it wasn’t pretty and it hurt me, so my way of doing it wasn’t the answer.  We went down to do it again and this time I stood up after checking on the diver and pulled him to me. After I had him neutral, I started up with both of us. It was much better this time around.  This is when Steve explained something to us.  This course doesn’t teach you how to do every rescue step by step. No one way is going to work for all situations or even all divers. They want you to know what your objective is when an emergency arrives and give you the knowledge to complete it. How you complete it is up to you and your abilities.  So, we were all doing the same thing, but there were differences in our techniques which was fine.  The next exercise was an unresponsive, non-breathing diver at the surface.  We had to check on them, get them buoyant on their back, and tow them to safety while giving rescue breaths. (mouth-to-mouth, mouth-to-pocket mask, etc) Doing it just the length of the pool was taxing. Little did I know how taxing it would be the next day.  The last exercise was towing an unresponsive, non-breathing diver while giving rescue breaths while taking off their scuba gear and your scuba gear to get them ready to board a boat or get dragged on the shore.  Yeah, we’ll just say that little exercise SUCKED!!!  After that, we were done. Literally. We were finished with our exercises and we were all about wiped out by the exercises.  It was 1530. Time to go home, rest up and meet back at Diver’s Supply at 0900 on Sunday to convoy to the quarry for our open water portion.

01 Apr 07: 0900: First off, I have to say, my legs, arms and gut were sore this morning after our little work out in the pool yesterday.  Met at D/S and loaded up the tanks for the day.  On this day, there was the Rescue class doing their open water “dives” and there was an Open Water class doing their check out dives.  The day was beautiful. It was about 82 degrees, no wind and a very slight chance of rain.  The water was to be 70 degrees at the surface.

0930: Left for Quarry.

1000: At quarry, unloaded equipment and met at the top of the hill for compass work.  The Rescue class did two compass search skills on land: The “U” search pattern and the “Expanding Square” search pattern.  After that, we let the O/W class borrow our compasses and they did their compass skills.  As we were watching them do that, Dive Buddy Dee showed up. She was to be our designated victim for the rescue class.

Steve got the O/W class in the water first. Since our first scenario was going to be a search and rescue one, he decided to let the O/W class muck of the visibility for us before we got out there.  As we soon found out, viz was only about 1 foot, so we didn’t any help from the O/W folks.  We did a “reel” search for our first scenario.  One guy searches with the line in his hand while another guy is supposed to stay stationary and just pivot while the searcher goes in ever expanding circles.  As we saw with the first few tries, it was very hard to stay stationary when you were the pivot man. There was nothing to hang onto and with viz being 12” you really couldn’t tell you were moving.  The first two guys went out to try and after they went below the surface, Steve sent Dee out to lay on the bottom for them to find her.  She went out and descended. The guys were all over the place and never found her. We didn’t really know the layout of the area and were right near the edge of a drop off. It was an awkward place to find her. They surfaced and Steve blew his underwater horn. Unfortunately, Dee didn’t know if it was for her or the Rescuers, so she stayed put. After a few minutes, Steve told me to go get her.  I paddled over to her bubbles and started to descend.  I figured her to be at about 11 feet since that’s where we were doing our stuff, but at 11 feet, all I could see were bubbles coming up from further down.  Evidently, when she dropped down, she was over the ledge and didn’t realize it.  As I started to go down, I noticed I was light on weight and was having problems getting down. I could get down, but it was going to take a bit more effort than just venting my wing.  Then, I had my first ever run in with a thermocline.  The water went from 70 degrees to a bone chilling (for me) 56 degrees in a matter of inches. It was ungodly cold!!! As soon as I hit it, I started hyperventilating and my mask twisted onto my hood so it started to leak like a sieve. I considered surfacing to re-group, but as I looked down and saw Dee’s bubbles, feeling the cold, I had no idea anymore if she was OK or not.  I couldn’t take the time to surface and get back down.  I cleared my mask, but it was stuck on my hood and was letting water in as fast as I could clear it.  I pushed my mask on my face, blowing the air out and it pushed the hood edge away also. It was still leaking, but not near as bad now.  I was still under the thermocline and hyperventilating for all I was worth.  Dee’s bubbles were still coming up from below me so I started back down to her.  Once I got down, she was only at 27 feet, but as cold as I was and as much as it took me to get down, she might as well have been at 200.  Now that I was down, I tapped on her to get her attention, then I realized, she was thinking I was the rescue guy and she was playing the part of the unresponsive diver at the bottom.  I started to pick her up and play the part and then I remembered they were waiting for us at the surface. If I took too long, they were gong to think something is wrong, so I reached over, hoping she had her eyes open and gave her the “cut” signal. She saw it, acknowledged it and started to surface herself.  When we got to the surface, she realized it was me and ask what happened.  I went through it all as we paddled back to the shore.  From that point on, they didn’t send her out very far and she stayed above the thermocline.  I do have to mention that Steve and I were the first group to actually find her underwater. (We were the 4th group out)  We found her both times we went out and my line guy found her when I was his pivot man.  Eventually, everyone was able to find her.  We worked out better ways to steady ourselves and mark a reference point to see if were being pulled or not.

  The next scenario had me go out with another diver to a point and descend. Once we descended, he cut his ankle and calf on something and started bleed. Once I looked at the leg and made the decision to ascend, he signaled he was out of air. OK. I gave him my alternate air source, made sure he was breathing ok from it and signaled for use to swim up towards the shore. We made it to the surface, there were others there to help and we got him to the shore and started first aid.  We had a couple minor hiccups in our rescue, but all in all a good report on this scenario.

  The next had two divers out in the water and the other three of us on the shore gearing up to dive.  They surfaced and one was pooped, soothe other started to tow him in.  After awhile the second tired out and signaled for help.. Tow of us on the shore went in to help while one stayed on the shore to coordinate everything from there.  All of a sudden the original tired guy panicked and one of the two newer guys was going to settle him down, but his buddy, the other tired guy, decided he had enough in him to do what was necessary to subdue and calm his buddy down. They all made it back to shore with little more than a couple of tired divers.

  Our 4th and final scenario was our “Final Exam.” We actually did this one twice with different divers playing different parts of each one.  The first go around had two divers in the water, two on the shore getting ready and one “Divemaster” on the shore.  This was testing decision making, securing the scene along with testing to poor schlep that got stuck being “Diver 2” in this scenario.  The scenario: Divers 1 and 2 are diving. Divers 3 and 4 are getting ready to dive.  Diver 1 (D1) bolts to the surface and becomes unresponsive and non-breathing. Diver 2 (D2) has to assess D1 and then get him to shore while doing the rescue breaths.  After they get him to shore, they find out he also has no heartbeat.  D2 has about a 25-50 yard swim with D1 while giving him rescue breaths.  I was Diver 4 for the first time around, but was D2 the second time.  After we got the victim D1 to the shore, we had one giving rescue breaths while another was giving CPR and another was calling 911.  The Divemaster was giving out orders for everyone to follow.  When I did my turn as D2, by the time I got him to shore and the others were dragging him in and giving the CPR/breaths, I was so beat, I couldn’t even get out of the water.  There are a couple pictures that shows the guys giving CPR and breathes and you can see me just sitting in the water trying to catch my breath.  But, after we did that scenario twice, we had all passed our dives for the class and were considered “Rescue Divers.”

  After all the diving was completed, we got changed and had a cook out with the O/W class. We were all issued our temporary C-cards and were grateful to make it through the day.

  The Rescue Diver course is a very worthwhile course to take.  You learn a lot about emergency scenarios and how to deal with them along with learning a lot about yourself at the same time.  I highly recommend everyone to take this course.  You don’t learn about diving per se, but you will know who to react if an emergency happens to occur in your vicinity while diving.

  As always, I want to Thank Scuba Steve Gatlin for his great instructing. He took the time to make sure we all learned the tasks and did them correctly in order not injury ourselves, put ourselves in harm’s way or make things worse on the victim while performing the rescue.  If you have any questions about becoming a PADI Rescue Diver, please feel free to contact me and ask any questions you may have.

Next Stop: DiveMaster.

Rescue Class Pictures

Rescue Diver Knowledge Reviews
(Minus the answers)