Why do you as a Scuba Leader (Divemaster/DiveConn/Assistant Instructor/Instructor/Instructor Trainer) want to be a DAN Instructor? I mean come on, most of us do this for fun and we already spent scads of cash earning our Professional Diving Level Designation. Does it really matter? I only want to teach in my spare time! Is it really that hard to put an Oxygen Mask on someone? Is it any of my business if someone is bent and doesn’t want to see a doctor? Should I really do something to someone injured on a dive and increase my liability/exposure?
All these statements make you think – or at least they should if you are a Dive Professional. Let’s start with the liability stuff and work up through the list of objections. If you didn’t have training on a list of objections in your Instructor Course feel free to contact me and we’ll talk. Let’s say you are a Dive Professional. You are out on a boat and you encounter an injured diver. What do you do? What should you do? The first thing is establishing if this is a diver in training or not. If the diver is yours then you need to step right up quickly and competently. If the diver is someone else’s then you need to notify the responsible party post haste! If the diver is certified but injured on the boat you are on then you still have a duty of care but remember that nobody got this diver to sign a release with your name on it so tread softly. Regardless of the status you still have a moral and legal obligation to help. You’re an Instructor so every lawyer in the world thinks you are the Scuba God you tell your neighbor you are over cold beer at the barbeque in the back yard.
Is it any of your business if someone is bent and doesn’t want to see a doctor? Well yes, and no. You can’t make someone seek medical care. If someone refuses care then your duty is to stand back and wait for them to pass out so you may provide care under implied consent. (medical types just got a chuckle) However, if someone is your student you need to impress upon them the need for care since you are supposed to know better. (Don’t forget to write out your incident report!) If someone is not your student then let’s just focus on the human factor here and say that you should get everyone to seek treatment. Don’t be the person who dived tables and was obviously presenting symptoms as well as knowing that you exceeded the table limits but say that it’s just because you hauled too many tanks that week. (true story!) More importantly, don’t let that person with the excuse be one of your students. A wise man once told me that denial was the first sign of DCI. An On-Site Neurological Examination as taught in the DAN On-Site Neuro course can convince someone of the need for care as well as provide a baseline to assist the Hyperbaric staff in treatment.
So, how hard is it to put an Oxygen mask on an injured diver? Well, that’s not really the hard part. I have witnessed an Instructor not know how to put the Oxygen unit together and properly turn it on. No, not a newbie Instructor – we’re talking about a Master Instructor type with a few hundred certifications behind him. It also helps to know how to put the unit together since even though they are supposed to be stored assembled and ready for use I’ve only seen half of them that way. It’s like diving…you don’t just dive, you learn how to assemble the unit and then how to use the unit and then you get to dive the unit. It’s helpful that way. I promise it cannot be stressed enough that education and practice are the keys to providing Oxygen effectively to an injured diver. Remember that standard of care. A few training agencies actually hold out that all of their Instructors are competent at providing Oxygen First Aid. This means that as a Dive Professional the standard of care would include that you be competent in providing Oxygen. The best way to stay competent is to teach it so you can maintain a level of familiarity with the equipment and the proper processes.
But you only want to teach in your spare time you say? All the more reason to be an Oxygen Instructor! Set yourself apart from the hacks who claim to teach people how to dive. What percentage of Instructors teach continuing education courses (beyond Open Water Diver)? The answer is surprisingly small. I’ve heard Instructors actually say that you don’t need anything beyond Open Water to get your tanks filled and do any dives you want. I’ve heard Instructors say that Advanced Open Water and Nitrox will take you anywhere you want to go. Neither of these claims is correct. Open Water courses these days are designed to get people interested in diving. It is the Instructor’s responsibility to help them understand that there is so much more to learn in this segmented knowledge delivery system. And that part about AOW/EANx being the end all of certification need is just as false. One Navigation dive does not make a Navigator. One dive to 100 feet does not teach a person about secondary air sources (this is different than an alternate air source or octopus). Be the Instructor who can design a plan for your students and strive to get at least 75% of your students from Open Water through a myriad of specialties to include Deep, Navigation, EANx, something involving lines/reels and lift bags, and something involving a full spectrum of dive safety tools.[span style="mso-spacerun