This article illustrates the importance of proper dive training and equipment.

Safety Issues for Sport and Technical Diving: Training and Equipment

Proper Training

Divers need proper training for specialized environments, equipment and gas mixtures.

  • This may involve training for a particular environment such as: Cave Diving, River Diving, Ice Diving, Wreck Diving, etc.
  • It may involve training for the operation of a specialized piece of diving equipment such as: Full Face Mask, Twin Sets (Doubles), Dive Propulsion Vehicles, Rebreathers, Dry Suits, etc.
  • It might involve training for the use of various breathing mixtures (such as Air, Nitrox, Oxygen, Trimix, and Heliox) at a variety of depths and for decompression applications.

Sometimes training may involve a combination of the above types of training.

The training you get is only as good as your instructor. Here are some things to consider when selecting you dive instructor for any particular dive course:
 
 

  • Level of training.
  • Diving background.
  • Performance of the instructor for the level of training.
  • Ability to convey knowledge and concepts (teach).
  • Level of knowledge in the subject being taught.

As in any profession, those with the greater levels of expertise may charge a bit more. Remember that it took time and money to obtain their level of expertise and will doubtless require more to maintain it! One should be very wary of an instructor who has risen through the ranks too quickly. If an instructor brings a high level of expertise, a majority of divers will be willing to pay for it.

Proper Equipment

When it comes to equipment selection, too many students put the cart before the horse. Students will sign up, ask what equipment is needed and with little more than a “shopping list” go out to purchase equipment for Sport or Extended Range/Technical diving equipment.

Hopefully, when they come to class, it will turn out that the equipment they purchased actually is suitable for the type of diving that will be doing. During the lecture section on equipment, all fingers are crossed that the small fortune the students have invested in their new diving equipment will not become a major loss. “You must have the right tool for the job”, a quote my grandfather was fond of, couldn’t be more appropriate when applied to proper selection of dive equipment.

To avoid problems:

  • Schedule with your dive instructor, where possible, a time prior to the course to obtain advice as to what is equipment will be needed for the course as well as the criteria that should be used in selecting the equipment.
  • Read through the Equipment section(s) of the course manual.
  • Check the complete list of required equipment as outlined in the certification agency’s Standards and Procedures for that course.

In addition your instructor should also have listed the appropriate equipment required for the environment(s) in which you will be operating during training (and as it fits your goals afterward). Find out the additional equipment your instructor deems necessary above a beyond that listed above.

  • Become educated about a wide variety of equipment choices (brands and models) that would fit the course criteria.
  • Find out from your instructor if it is appropriate and workable to wait until they have covered equipment lectures for the course before selecting your diving equipment.
  • Your instructor should quiz you as to your future diving goals and needs as they apply to equipment usage. This way you may be directed into dive equipment that has broader latitude of cross-platform usage.

I can’t over emphasize the importance of proper equipment selection. When applied to Extended Range or Technical diving, where the environments are less forgiving of poor choices, inadequacies, undependability, lack of primary redundancy, you must be certain that you have the right tool for the job.

Equipment must be viewed as what it truly is: underwater life-support. The selection process is an essential part of proper training as well as diving safety.

Remember:

  • “Dive safety happens not by accident!”
  • “Plan your dive. Dive your plan.” — Hal Watts

Written by Gary Taylor, President of the Professional Scuba Association International (PSAI)