After 3 diving days, I finally completed the SSI Diver Stress & Rescue course! This must be the most physically challenging diving specialty; I just can’t imagine any other course coming close.
The final dive is a culmination exercise. We started with a 20-minute fun dive, and it was truly fun. The highlight was this unending school of baby sardines that passed right over us.
Then, my instructor “lost” his dive buddy. We searched around our position for 1 minute. We couldn’t see her.
We surfaced, and my instructor was “too stressed” to look for our lost diver.
I can do it!
So, I took my dive buddy to search for our missing diver. She was not where she was supposed to be, so the search took quite a bit longer than it should probably normally take (for training, anyway). We did more of a real world search than a training search.
After we found her, I began the process of bringing her safely to the surface (she was unresponsive). For training safety, the lost diver is supposed to hold onto a cord in order to release air if our ascent is too quick. She wasn’t holding it, so I put her hand on it before I started our ascent. I wonder if I earned any bonus points for adding a real world safety precaution?
Anyway, the next challenge was pulling her to the beach while performing simulated rescue breaths every 5 seconds. Because she had been out of position, she was quite a bit farther away from shore than the training requires.
Nonetheless, I pulled her to shore in 12 minutes. That’s supposedly a good time. I heard of someone taking 20 minutes over the normal distance, and I took 12 minutes including the bonus distance.
I got her onto the beach and simulated CPR, at which point my instructor called the exercise. I passed.
But, I’ll tell you I was breathing heavy for quite a while. Swimming with an “unconscious” victim while performing rescue breaths, plus carrying the “victim” to shore, is a serious cardio workout.
I decided to quickly follow up this training with a fun dive on 35% nitrox (35% oxygen content, compared to the 21% oxygen content in the air we normally breathe). I thought of that as my recovery.
It turns out on that fun dive that I had to help a couple of divers with their positive buoyancy! I think this is now the 3rd dive that I’ve helped other divers, so maybe I’m suddenly more observant?
Anyway, my new challenge is to maintain these stress and rescue skills while hoping to never have to use them….