Maine is still beautiful as usual.
August has brought with it two of my greatest accomplishments so far during the internship: AAUS Scientific Diver Standing and PADI Divemaster certification! Its been great working up to the two exams and underwater tests throughout the summer, and many of my personal experiences helped me through the questions. One in particular stands out,
A diver comes to you after a few days of diving, feeling tired, sore, and achy. What do you think is wrong with the diver, and what should you do?
Well, although the first answer is Decompression Sickness, one of our divers this summer discovered in this same scenario that she had lyme disease. I encouraged her not to dive due to her then mysterious illness, and was not surprised to find out something was actually wrong! DCS is similarly evasive, but whenever a diver feels poorly, the best choice is to discontinue diving. You never know what could be the result.
By being able to associate the questions with my experiences from this summer, the tests felt like I whizzed through them. Definitely the more challenging aspect of the two exams are the in-water skill tests. Since I did the two courses simultaneously, its difficult to extract the skills that were specific to one or the other – and the two courses seemed entirely complementary to me. Where AAUS would test your own buoyancy control for scientific studies, Divemaster would ask you to know how to help an out of controlled buoyant ascent. Where AAUS wants you to be able to distinguish different ocean qualities for experimental design, Divemaster training requires you to be familiar with current patterns and drift in order to better plan dives for students. While you have to complete basic dive skills for AAUS, you have to demonstrate dive skills for Divemaster. The two courses helped me become an all around better diver, and by doing them at the same time I learned more about dive physics, physiology, and oceanography that I would have separately. I also experienced the class from both sides of the coin, as student and teacher, which helped define my teaching style and refined my practice as a student. I would recommend to anyone hoping to do either, to do both!
One of the most enjoyable – and the most helpful – parts of my training was the role-playing aspect. My DSO Chris would become “other Chris” and act the part of a new or inexperienced diver. Most often this meant that his gear would be put together incorrectly or that he wouldn’t stick with me throughout the dive, but once or twice this meant real underwater accidents. He bolted to the surface, had his air turned partially off, and even unstrapped his tank from his BCD. These tested my own ability to identify and solve problems (hopefully out of the water first!). It also solidified the need for each step in the preparation and check-out dive process. I will never not check to see if a diver’s air is on, or if he didn’t connect his inflator hose. For me the most disconcerting underwater problem is actually when my buddy does not stay with me. Then, I imagine all possible problems being wrong and if he is not around I cannot even begin to attempt to fix them. This changed my own diving by making me uber aware of my buddy’s location during working dives – both for my safety and theirs.
Although my scuba education is not yet finished – is it ever really? – I do feel like I’ve accomplished a lot this summer. I would’ve never been able to neither afford nor have time for these classes on my own, so the internship experience has been vital. Now I’m off to use my new minted Divemaster training to help teach Discover Scuba!