EFR and Rescue Diver Certifications

I actually don’t start my DMT yet.

I came to the island with my AOW (advanced open water) certification and needed to get my rescue diver and Emergency First Responder certifications before I could be considered for DMT. Fortunately, this is a common scenario and I think at least half of DMs show up for their DMT and need to get several certifications before they can even begin their training. The advantage is being able to train and work in the same shop and under the same instructors for several weeks at a stretch. The disadvantage is not getting any variety in instruction because you’re working with all the same instructors and also not getting time between certs and instead blazing straight through.

Because I’ll be out here on the island for 5 months and I have loads of time to get my through my DMT, doing everything with the same shop is more of an advantage than a disadvantage. But not everyone has that same kind of time flexibility and in that case I’d recommend (if possible) getting a rescue diver cert and then diving for a while in as many different places as possible before going on to a DMT. Not only does this make you a more technically adept and flexible diver, because you’re used to diving in all kinds of conditions, but it also gives you the advantage of working with several different shops. All shops are different, countries have different standards and expectations and attitudes towards local ecology so divers with a lot of travel experience have a more expansive view of the dive industry than ones who dive primarily in one country or with one shop. I haven’t done a lot of diving but I have been diving in multiple countries so I know how much things can differ place to place.

As to the EFR course, I would highly recommend that all you future DMTs get a CPR certification so you don’t have to endure the EFR course. The EFR video is silly and outdated with a crazy obsession with “barriers” like latex gloves and pocket masks, it’s expensive compared to a CPR course, there’s nothing in it that relates directly to diving and any medical place that offers CPR courses will have better practice equipment (dummies and what all) than most dive shops.

Despite the hassle, my EFR was one easy day compared to Rescue, which was several days, the first of which was LONG and spent mostly reading, watching videos and taking exams. The last part of the first day I did some confined water skills with the Seal (a quiet mild mannered British man with decades of diving and instructing experience and hidden personal depths…). He tested me on self-rescue stuff like tired diver tows, mask removal, gear exchange, buddy breathing etc.

Our gear exchange was a hot mess. The Seal took his gear off with no trouble, of course, but as soon as I took my fins off they floated away. The Seal surfaced and chased down my fins while I held onto his gear. Then he came back down and I started to take my gear off when the Seal’s mouthpiece fell apart. He tried using his alternate but it wasn’t working properly so he took it apart under water to check the diaphragm but something still wasn’t right. He tried removing the alternate and switching mouthpieces underwater, which still didn’t fix it but worked enough to get him through. Watching him calmly problem-solve a malfunctioning mouthpiece underwater was instructive in itself and probably eclipsed whatever I might have learned from gear switching.

We did some buddy breathing switching back and forth on my regulator, which freaked me out. I have a ways to go before I can take my reg out and just hang out under water. Every time the Seal handed it back to me I’d put it in my mouth and take a giant gulp of air. Swallowed a lot of sea water…

On the surface, the Seal gently (subtlety) made a comment about how a calm attitude is the main DM skill to acquire. Learn to not freak out. Assume that there’s some solution and fix the problem because freaking out solves nothing.

Got it. Still need a lot of work on that.

Next post will be Rescue Diver Day 2: less reading and more diving. Always a good scenario.

2 thoughts on “EFR and Rescue Diver Certifications

  1. Cheers to not freaking out. So “the Seal,” huh? What other labels are part of the this world? We don’t have seals amongst the gays. Bears and otters, but no seals (that I know of o_O).

    • it’s not a label so much as some people are hard to nickname for identity shielding purposes. They have more elusive qualities. I’m kind of making it up as I go along…

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