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February 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 41, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Yes, Letís Scrap the Lifetime C-Card

from the February, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Bret Gilliam's article, "Should Dive Certification Last Forever?" got some feedback from our readers. Here are a couple of comments, and a question for Bret, which he answers at the bottom.

* * * * *

Bret Gilliam's article on the lifetime C-card is spot-on. Think of how many other industries require regular training, re-certification or refresher training on a regular basis: nurses, doctors, teachers, mechanics . . . the list goes on. And for good reason: skills degrade and procedures change. Diving is a series of physical skills (not just one or even a few), and those skills degrade without regular practice. Bret mentions the issue of logbooks. I've been certified to dive for over 25 years, but I had two big breaks from the sport. At no time has anyone checked my logbooks. Even when I was training to become a PADI instructor, nobody checked my logs, including the PADI folks.

Diving takes place in an environment in which we cannot communicate well. That alone should justify regular practice and training. C-cards should be issued with some kind of expiration or "refresher training required by" date. PADI's new Reactive program is a good start, because instead of requiring a full slate of skill review, the diver can choose the ones he or she is weak on. Refresher training can do the same thing. Divers who have a Rescue certification should absolutely be required to demonstrate recovering a non-responsive diver. It's a great confidence boost, a hard skill to master, and an easier one to forget.

As a diver and an instructor, I don't want divers who haven't stayed current to hurt themselves, me or my loved ones because they can't stay buoyant or because they panic or because they lied to me or the shop. In this day and age, the C-card should absolutely have some kind of requirement for currency or an expiration date in lieu thereof. We'd all benefit.

Chip Wright -- Hebron, KY

* * * * *

The articles on recertification and older divers last month struck home. I was an active diver for a number of years, then became an occasional diver due to work and family obligations. Now, living in Florida, my diving opportunities have increased. I've taken a scuba refresher course and completely agree with Bret Gilliam's view that certification shouldn't be forever. Also, as an older diver (age 74), safety and competence are paramount.

Bruce Butterfield -- Sarasota, FL

* * * * *

I would like to see some statistics to back up the statement in this article that diving "accident rates are up dramatically." If that single statement cannot be substantiated, then the basis for the entire article goes away.

Robert Speir -- Falls Church, VA

Bret's reply: Robert, it is factual. There are fewer divers participating, and the number of accidents has risen. It's basic math. You can argue about the denominator since there is no way to quantifying the actual number of dives made annually by all the active divers. But it is unarguable that the number of participants -- and thus, the number of dives made -- are far less than what they were in 2000.

I am on the inside of most significant diving injury and fatality litigation in North America, as well as a lot of cases internationally. I work both defense and plaintiff's files, going back to 1973. A huge majority of diving litigation cases are settled before trial and then cloaked in confidentiality agreements. So neither the public nor anyone in the dive industry can get at the actual facts. Reality is a bitch -- Bret Gilliam

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