07.04.2012 - 10.04.2012
Ive taken the plunge and purchased my own wetsuit. Im now the proud owner of a 5mm Scuba Pro Therma Tec. Its not as hard to put on as you might imagine but being a full suit and being significantly thicker than a 3mm its definitely more challenging. That should improve a little as I wear it in. Sadly my first dive in the wet suit was again at the wreck site I mentioned in a previous post and visibility this time was awful. To add to my discomfort I had underestimated the amount of extra weight I needed. Despite carrying out a buoyancy check on the surface with 5 kilos and feeling fine I had trouble with my descent, 5 mm is a lot more buoyant than 3. Un surprisingly we didn't see a lot during the dive and as its fairly deep at 30 meters it was quite a short dive anyway.
The following day I began my EFR course (emergency first responder) in truly american style and as always paranoid about litigation Im informed its nesscessary to introduce myself even to unconscious and indeed victims that are not breathing! let me get this straight? i find some poor fellow who has been violently thrown through the window of his vehicle and I must use this phrase before I begin CPR (hello my name is ........ I'm an emergency first responder, may I help you?" what a load of bull shit.... The EFR course is a half day course and really anyone with a dose of common sense should sail through it. Chest compressions are more tiring and challenging than you might imagine to administer especially at the recommended ratio of 2 breaths to every 30 compressions with a 100 total compressions per minute. I competed my exercise to those ratios in a minute and 4 seconds. Not too shabby I suppose! That afternoon our instructor took us skin diving, Id only ever had basic instruction for this particular skill and to be totally honest it wasn't something I found I had enjoyed so I wasn't really looking forward to it but to my surprise I actually really enjoyed it! It certainly helped that at the site we chose we saw a turtle and 2 roughly a meter long black tip reef sharks! Our instructor is truly amazing at skin diving. He has reached depths of 30 meters and can remain on the bottom for a staggering 4-5 minutes. I found it quite difficult to stay under the water for a full minute even at a depth of only 8 - 10 meters! Its deffinatley some thing I want to work on if I can only find the time in between everything else Im learning.
Day after EFR and its time to begin the rescue diver course, besides having only 2 days to read the entire manual and answer all the knowledge reviews (5) and the final assessment (25 questions if i remember right) we also had to learn a lot of new skills. Namely how to recognise the early signs of stress and over exertion that can lead to bigger problems like exhaustion, heat stroke or panic in a diver. How to search for and recover a diver who is unconscious, how to safely slow the ascent of a diver and how to treat decompression illness with oxygen. Not only that but how to safely approach a diver who is panicked at the surface (anyone who is near drowning or believes they are in danger while in the water have a tendency to climb on the nearest thing, in this case me) they may even reject your help and or remove essential pieces of equipment. This is a just a handful of the skills we picked up and as courses go it was perhaps one of the most fun diving course I've yet taken. After practicing search patterns and going through drills for an entire day and a half day 2 and 3 were devoted to actual rescue scenarios. Again this was a lot of fun albeit exhausting to continually be alert for the next "problem" our instructor threw every thing at us both under water and on the surface. Rapid ascents, un controlled ascents, poor buoyancy, over exerted diver. panicked diver, out of air diver, unconscious diver above and below the water, lost diver, panicked diver at the surface, exhausted diver amongst a number of other things such as equipment failures etc. I really enjoyed the challenges and learning how to better protect myself and others while diving (a whole chapter is devoted to self rescue on the basis if you can't help yourself effectively what goo are you to anyone else?). At the end of it all I was bone tired, too tired to do much of anything but return to my room and sleep.
Next week ill be starting the marine conservation course where I hope to learn a lot more about the eco systems I'm diving in as well as helpfully do a bit of good work towards preserving it! A month or so after that ill be starting my divemaster training!