When I was an inexperienced diver I rarely worried too much about the idea of training and certification. The more I saw and the more I learned I realised that the sales pitch of PADI courses was more than that; courses have real purpose. I will say right now that I am a PADI instructor so you may say I also have a vested interest but I believe in the need for training for safe experiences in diving.
I have dived with a wide range of divers of all experience and many with far more experience than I have. I have recently made the decision that I will only dive certain dives with those who are trained in the skills that are needed. One example is overhead environments. If you are not trained in laying lines, if you are not able to work out air management for an overhead environment then I will not dive that dive with you.
Some may think I’m officious, others may think I’m being too careful, but at the end of the day I consider the potential risks and what questions would be asked should the worst happen. If I enter an overhead environment with an unqualified diver then I am putting that diver at risk.
There are lots of other situations regarding diving to limits. Another serious consideration is depth. If I am working as an instructor then I have support. I generally will have a DM and I will certainly have a rescue diver with me. We have a deep training dive coming up and we will have two students with two DMTs and a DM. The DMTs will be one on one with the students and the DM will be there to support me as a diver at work. It may seem overkill and certainly exceeds the necessary ratios but the DMTs are training and so I will count them in my ratios. They will be focussed on the students. I will be focussed on all four of them and the DM will be focussed on me. I would not simply dive to 40m with two divers for whom it’s new with no support – training or no training.
It’s about controlling risk and it’s about making sensible calls and not trying to be the “I went deeper and longer than you” sort of diver. The certifications are there for a reason and I will respect them. DAN has some great incident reports on different situations that are useful to read and show that regrettably some of the situations are irredeemable.
I now ensure I plan properly whereas I haven’t always been as rigorous as I should have been. This includes checking certs and training as well as experience. If you trained a few years ago and haven’t put it into practice then I will be conservative as a result. At the end of the day there’s always the opportunity for another dive. So slow steps forward, safe diving and fun diving!