Can You Trust Your Instructor?

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 3.2/5 (9 votes cast)

John BantinBritish dry cialis online wit Comedian Jimmy Carr claims to have put a classified-ad in a newspaper that read along the lines of, “Good looking, young, millionaire seeks gullible stunner.” We can cheap essay writing services all be gullible at times, especially when undergoing training with a trusted instructor, but how well can you trust your instructor?

I still remember a young teenage diver doing a series of dives with diving guru Rob Palmer. Rob was a pal of mine but it still didn’t stop me from protesting that they should not be going to 120m on air. “We know what we’re doing,” the kid had said. What he meant was that he trusted Rob. It was Rob that died on one of the following dives.

Of course, buying training or owning the equipment should confer a degree of expertise but it not always so, especially if you have an instructor whose credibility is invested in incorrect information. I have never owned a rebreather but I’ve done a quite few dives on different ones. When I offered an opinion on a rebreather forum I was shot down because I did not own a unit. One of my detractors was an airline pilot. Presumably he didn’t own the airliner he flew but he owned the rebreather he died with shortly after our paths had crossed.

BskyB and the HSE jointly released a haunting video that recorded the very near miss one of its cameramen had with a CO2 hit. It makes sober watching but the diver in question reveals that he was taught to tip out the partially used material from his scrubber, break up the lumps and put it back. This is an absolute No, No. We have covered the subject in this magazine as long ago as 2005. He nearly paid with his life. His instructor should be pilloried if that is what he teaches people to do.

It’s time that training agencies came clean. As well as telling people how easy it is, they should tell people how easy it is to die if they do it wrong and diving instructors should be subject to much more control.

I continue to see wrong information disseminated by both amateur and professional instructors alike. That’s from simple things like rigging the octopus on the wrong side of the diver so that its very difficult to donate in case of a real out-of-air situation, dumping air from the BC by means of the oral inflation valve at the end of the corrugated hose thereby letting water back in the other way, tightening up the cracking pressure of a regulator to make it harder to breathe from and thought to conserve air, and so on. I still see people diving at the limit of their no-stop times rather than “get into decompression” and I see them rush from 6m or so in order to get to the surface rather than risk entering the red zone on their pressure gauge and off-gassing gently in the shallows with the last quarter of their air because they were told they had to be back on the boat with 50 bar. A huge trust is put in the buddy system when too often many poorly trained buddies are little more than useless in the heat of the moment.

The most obvious error taught is the overweighting caused by instructors who need their heavily breathing trainees to kneel comfortably at the bottom of a shallow pool. They then wear the same amount of ballast on real dives. Someone should make it mandatory that all trainee divers have an understanding of neutral buoyancy. You only need to pull one dead diver out of the water to feel passionate about this subject – and I am.

Instructors are not infallible. The wreck of the Thistlegorm was pulled apart by ignorant dive-guides, presumably instructors, tying off heavy dive boats to vulnerable parts. Did they really think a 150 tonne boat bobbing on the waves would be held in place by being tied to a motorbike or some flimsy rusted railing?

I have done Instructor courses and exams with a couple of different training agencies. I was startled by the lack of skill of some of those that passed the grade. Some of them had never even dived in the sea. One young person, not yet eighteen years old, argued that if he could do all the skills he was qualified to be an instructor. I thought that at his tender years the responsibility for other people’s lives might be too onerous. Years later when we met and he’d matured, he told me how right I was. Thanks Steve.

One girl candidate was such a poor swimmer, I swear she was stationary for long periods during the stamina swim test. Another asked me what the Recreational Dive Planner was all about the night before the Instructor Exam. Evidently he’d learnt to dive without needing any decompression theory. He, like the others, was a fully-fledged instructor by the next day. These instructors are then let loose on an unsuspecting public.

What is done to keep the consequently rogue instructor in check? Nothing. In the early days of rebreather training one instructor distinguished himself by being responsible for the training of a high proportion of those that later became casualties. The manufacturer wanted his instructor badge taken from him but the training agency insisted it would be bad publicity for them so he stayed teaching.

When you decide to learn to dive, you are both vulnerable and have a tendency to be gullible. How do you know what you are being taught is correct? The short answer is that you do not. It’s a matter of trust. However, when things go wrong, the instructor should be investigated. In the UK the HSE has some responsibility for this but the UK is only a tiny area where diving is being taught. More importantly, the training agencies should insist on applying better quality control to those that practise in their names.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 3.2/5 (9 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Can You Trust Your Instructor?, 3.2 out of 5 based on 9 ratings
Bookmark and Share

7 comments for “Can You Trust Your Instructor?

  1. July 23, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    well said, john! on one dive trip, i was assigned to buddy with a grossly obese diver who was smoking on the boat. when i went to buddy check her air pre-dive, she groused at me “what’s your certification? i’m an instructor! i don’t need my air checked by you.” oops, sorry. i thought that instructors teach students to buddy check each other’s air pre-show! even though i’ve taken divemaster training to improve my own safety and ability to help others, i keep my mouth shut about it. it ain’t about what class you’ve passed, it’s about “do you know how to dive safely?”

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  2. Matthew Evans
    July 30, 2010 at 6:32 am

    Apparently there is a joke in the medical profession that seems relevant here:

    What do you call the student that graduates at the bottom of the class in medical school?…Doctor!

    Instructors/DM’s are advised to ask questions of divers prior to taking them out to determine experience etc, maybe the clients need to do some interviewing in return…

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  3. DeepSeaDan
    August 9, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Agreed on all points. For far too long it has been far too easy to gain an Instructor’s ticket. It is encumbent upon the student to do their homework when considering diving instruction. An honest, hard look at the Instructors experience, attitude, philosophy & style, coupled with interviews of his former students, will pay off in spades. Further, look for a dive shop in a similar manner. Look for a facility with strong core values that holds professionalism to it’s highest standard; with this philosophy in place, you will likely find their teaching team to be united in the goal of creating safe, proficient divers. That is the kind of team you will want coaching you into the magnificence of the deeps.

    Regards,
    DSD

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  4. August 19, 2010 at 12:08 am

    good provocative comments john.

    quality control (of dive instructors) after the fact (a diving accident) is good, but to my mind is looking at why the horse has bolted after the gate’s been left open.

    nothing beats experience. newly certified instructors must (and should, in my view) be prepared to understudy senior, qualified and reputable instructors prior to their own complete ‘qualification’, and both training agencies and dive business operators should agree to mandate this. certification does NOT necessarily mean qualification.

    how to do so is the issue i see as needing to be addressed.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  5. Jeff R
    September 6, 2010 at 12:37 am

    Interesting article.

    I am a fairly experienced diver (300+) but by no means a pro.

    Having been pressured to finally complete my advanced cert about 6 years ago (I would not be allowed to dive the Grove without it) I went into it with the hopes of tightening up some of my skills…specifically buoyancy and navigation(both are decent, but can always be improved). I walked away from the class realizing that I had gained nothing more than a piece of plastic and a thinner wallet.
    In my travels I have come across instructors and dm’s that are horrible divers and ow’s and aow’s that are down right scary.

    I think the crux of the issue is how we are certified. We allow the trainers to certify us. Does that seem odd to anyone but me? When I was a kid my drivers ed instructor did not certify me…he trained me to pass the test given by a third party that could care less if I passed or not. My point is this, many instructors either don’t care or their shops pressure them into quick certifications (many are excellent…my initial ow cert instructor was fantastic…and demanding!) If we changed the dynamic and instructors had to train people to pass a test they did not administer, then more emphasis would be put on learning skills and becoming proficient in them. If a student struggles with clearing their mask 20 times, and on the 21st gets it….ONCE…how do you think they will handle this inconvenience when it happens at depth and goes from an inconvenience to life threatening do to panic?

    I realize this kind of overhaul is probably unrealistic as the industry would fight it tooth and nail…which is really a shame.

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  6. John Bantin
    September 6, 2010 at 9:16 am

    Good thinking, Jeff R.and you are right in your last supposition!

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  7. October 26, 2010 at 4:25 am

    http://www.bigbluetech.net/big-blue-tech-news/2010/07/15/technical-diving-thailand-frontier/

    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 1.0/5 (1 vote cast)
    VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *