A Gentle Reminder. Gentle Like A Belly-Flop.

Last time I checked, you can not inhale water. Actually you can; but in doing so there have been reported many health risks. One of those risks is death. I’m not joking. People actually die from drowning! And you know what’s even more amazing? Public Safety Divers still do it! Even understanding there is a risk of dying, they still try to inhale that H2O. Why?!

Apparently no one told them that it’s no bueno. (Free Spanish lesson. You’re welcome.) If someone had, then maybe they might have been more careful. They might have had a different outcome. But where can one learn this kind of wisdom? Where can you go to understand what not to do?

It’s really not a question of where you can go, but who you can go to. The who you learn from is more important than where you learn. There are a lot of places you can go and learn advanced/specialty diving. Almost every sport diving agency has some kind of Search & Recovery certification. And if you are an advanced open water instructor with your agency, you’re all good to teach it. But has that instructor ever actually done it? Have they been down and located what was missing and brought it back? I’m not talking about a weight belt that fell off the boat in the ocean; I’m talking about zero visibility water looking for a gun that’s been pulled apart and tossed in piece by piece with every news station for 50 miles watching your every move. How would that instructor perform then?

Sadly this is happening. Police and fire departments across the country are finding and hiring sport diving instructors to train their people in something the instructor has no experience in, or business teaching. They are learning in clear water and comfortable conditions. If it’s raining they go home. Somehow this seems acceptable. Amazing.

Let me ask you a question. Why would you train anywhere other than where you would be performing the job? Pools are really nice; in fact I was in a pool last night. But I was teaching open water newbies, NOT people that need to be bringing their A-game at the worst times in the worst conditions! We need to get away from this mentality of trusting an instructor because they have a card that says they can teach a class. Take the time to interview someone who is going to train your department. Ask them what their experience is. I don’t care how many people you have taught, I want to know how long you have been doing recoveries and what kind of cases you have worked on. Tell me stories and some of your mistakes you have made.

Tell me why you teach what you teach! Are you doing this because it’s a good gig and the money is good, or are you doing this because you want to bring the very best training to those that serve our community’s? It is OK to ask these questions! If someone is going to get all defensive because you are challenging there credibility, then something is wrong.

So to sum this whole thing up in two words…be annoying. Ask questions, do your research, and don’t condemn you and your team to failing before the class even starts. Write down what you want to accomplish, and every question you can think of before you interview a potential instructor. Then get at it!

Search negatively my friends!