Confined Water Class Fiasco

Last night was the first night for the Confined Water skills portion of the PADI Open Water certification course that I have been assisting with this week for my Dive Master Candidate course. All in all everything went well. I showed up at the Scofield Barracks dive shop and loaded 20 scuba tanks for the 16 students while the instructors assisted them with getting their wetsuits, BCD’s, and weights, then we went over to the MWR pool a few miles north of the base where we would hold that nights class.

The students started off with their laps and other swimming skills before putting their wetsuits on for the scuba portion of the class. Once all of the swimming skills were completed I demonstrated the correct assembly and disassembly of their equipment and described each piece and what it does. Then the students were required to assemble and disassemble their own equipment three times.

While the students were assembling their equipment we found that an o-ring on one of their submersible pressure gauges had blown and we searched for a replacement for it. Luckily Davie, a female instructor recently added to the dive shop from Australia, had brought a backup regulator assembly and we were able to switch the student over to it.

Just as we got that student’s situation resolved another student found that they had a blown o-ring on their alternate air source. So once again we were scrambling around trying to find a resolution to the problem.

Unfortunately we could not find a replacement o-ring for the student so our only option was for me to disassemble my rig and let the student use my regulator assembly for the class, which meant that I could not be in the pool with them to assist with the class and demonstrate the regulator recovery and mask skills to them so that I could get signed off for my DMC requirements.

At the end of the class Michelle asked me if I would assist the students with disassembling their gear while she worked with one student that would not be able to attend class on Friday night, so while I helped everyone get their gear loaded back up for the trip back to the shop she worked with the last student completing confined water dives 3, 4 & 5 so that she would be ready for the open water dives with the rest of the class this weekend.

I have today off to prepare for the rest of the class starting tomorrow. I need to decide today if I am going to finish assisting with the class even though I won’t be credited for it, or if I will just skip it and wait two weeks for the next class to start. It’s a tough decision.

2 responses

  1. When you become a Dive Master and eventually an instructor the focus will always be on the Open Water Student. And yes, sometimes, you must give up your gear for the cause!
    Is it reasonable to expect to have a back up equipment for each student? Could you load and fit that all in your vehicle? Does the dive shop have that much equipment to spare and is not being used for another course or rental?
    These are situations you will confront time and again as a scuba instructor! What you mentioned that would keep you coming back is the students. Hang on to that, that is where the rewards come from. When you help a student overcome fear, gain confidence and finally get it!
    As a DM or instructor, you’re personal goals are secondary, it is the student you are focusing on. I understand in this case you are a student as well, but you’ve learned some good lessons that night and things will not always go as planned despite the best planning and preparedness.
    My recommendation: finish this OW course AND assist with the next one. More experience is better and each OW course will be different and offer new challenges.

    And please, label and describe exactly what is wrong with the gear to the technician and make sure it comes out of rotation until it is repaired!

    1. Jeanne,
      Thanks for the advice. Actually later that night after I wrote the post I was already coming to the same conclusions that you mentioned. I did learn from the situation and gaining knowledge is never a waste of time.

      I have a habit of getting caught up in schedules. I plan everything according to a particular schedule so that I can see successful progression in whatever I am doing, and know when I am falling behind. Like when I let my EMT certification lapse because I was no longer working on an ambulance.

      When I decided that I wanted to get my EMT certification back I chose to enter a class that was already over half finished and crammed through the entire course an the remaining 6 weeks that was left in the class. To do that I had to set daily and weekly schedules (quotas) which as long as I met those, I knew I was on-track. If I missed one, I knew that I was falling behind and exactly what I needed to do to get caught back up. I have always been that way, and I applied the same scheduling to the DM course to keep me on-track.

      With my Type A personality, looking at my check-off sheet more than a week after officially starting the course and I still do not have a single thing checked off is annoying. It makes me feel like I am not making any progress towards my goal. I am trying to work on that, but it seems that overcoming my claustrophobia and fear of water was easier to deal with than changing my personality type.

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