The course is the outcome of research initially conducted by the RNLI with the British Diving Safety Group (BDSG) in 2013. Their aim was to segment leisure-divers according to their motivation for diving and attitude to risk, and identify those groups most likely to take risks.
They also wanted to identify the most effective methods of communicating safety messages to the high-risk groups, with a view to changing their behaviour.
The research results were combined with data from dive-centre and club focus groups, the RNLI’s own files, BSAC Incident Reports and consultation with all BDSG members – “so the new course has benefitted from the input of many experienced and respected divers,” says RNLI Community Safety Product Manager Nick Fecher, leader of the project.
Fecher, a BSAC Advanced Instructor and PADI Master Instructor, learned to dive with BSAC in 1984 and later owned dive-centres on the South Coast, gaining experience in dive retail, training and RIB dive charters. “So the course and workshop have much of my past experience reflected in them,” he told Divernet.
Diver Sea Survival is designed to provide the skills for diving more safely in UK and Irish waters, says Fecher, and covers dive-planning and preparation, visibility at sea, a review of how best to tackle out-of-gas emergencies, what to do if faced with separation on the surface, survival techniques, and navigation and safety kit on dive-boats.
Also included are two open-water dives to give participants the chance to practise the skills and techniques learnt.
While the core target audience was identified as less-experienced UK divers, Fecher reckons the training has a much wider application, “from the more experienced divers who think they know it all to those new to diving in our temperate waters.
“To this end we’ve worked closely with BSAC to develop a workshop version of the course, which is aimed at the club-diver and is more scenario-based,” he says. Films used in the theory presentation were re-edited to that end. BSAC is due to launch its workshop version of the course, to be taught through its regional coaching scheme, in late March.
PADI launched the course to its instructors last October, and more than 100 have so far signed up to teach it in the UK, says Fecher. “Feedback from participating students is that they have all come away with new knowledge and, for some, new practical skills.”
More than 100 PADI instructors are already teaching the course in the Netherlands, and by the end of summer SSI, SAA, SDI, IANTD and NAUI are all expected to be teaching either the workshop or course version, says Fecher.
Find out more and to see a film about rescued diver Paul Gibson here
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