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May 2020    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 35, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Diver and Instructor Fitness

from the May, 2020 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dear Undercurrent,

There was some important safety information in your excess weight article that I once questioned while taking the PADI Rescue course in Puget Sound back in 2007, at the age of 53. The course instructor used a divemaster who was quite obese, and considering the strenuous conditions, it occurred to me that such a diver may not have the stamina to perform a safe rescue. After the class was complete, I asked the instructor about PADI professional requirements on fitness; I was told that being fit and maintaining fitness was one for divemasters and instructors.

Assuming from his reply that PADI had some program for validating dive fitness for active professionals like PADI has for liability insurance, it wasn't until 10 years later when I took the PADI divemaster and instructor courses that I discovered that was not the case. Not only that, what constituted fitness in the PADI professional standards was a self-evaluation.

I believe that dive professional standards should be detailed, codified, documented, and verified by the associated organization regularly, just as all licensed pilots do through the FAA. That would include an annual or biannual physical exam with the physician's statement of approval to dive (preferably a dive-knowledgeable physician), a swim test similar to the professional exams, and basic rescue skills demonstration.

I also believe that recreational divers, regardless of skill level, should have to renew their certification regularly to participate in any professionally led dive excursion.

These ideas, if enacted, would go a long way toward really professionalizing scuba diving and giving the recreational diver a strong desire to continue diving regularly, while enhancing the bottom line for the industry. Most of all, I believe, doing such will greatly improve the health, fitness, safety, and confidence of every diver.

- David Steinberg (Portland, OR)

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