By, Vikki Batten, Rebreather Advisory Team, Technical Diving Division
I am going to take the liberty of presuming you know that before you teach any course you must have the correct qualifications and equipment plus follow standards and the course outline. You will find all of this in the Discover Rebreather Guide, but here are a few tips on making the Discover Rebreather experience fun and effective.
If you are running a Discover Rebreather event then I presume you want to entice divers to try rebreather diving, with the aim of them wanting to follow up with more training and diving. So it’s important to tell them the real reasons they should try it:
- Rebreather Divers are cooler than other divers! Ok, that may just be my opinion…but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong!
- Rebreather diving is an exciting new challenge – in many parts of the world diver’s enjoy learning new skills and information.
- Rebreather diving can enhance any type of diving you enjoy:
- Photographers don’t have to Photoshop bubbles
- Animals aren’t scared because you are quieter
- Videographers can dive for longer
- No deco limits are longer
- Feels closer to true weightlessness when you master the buoyancy
- Longer no deco limits mean that you can make your dive more conservatism (if you plan it that way)
- Warm, moist gas and no demand valve makes breathing on a rebreather the most natural underwater breath there is.
- Mastering recreational rebreather diving makes the step to Tec CCR diving easier if you want to move into tec diving later.
Make the most of social media to tell your divers about dates and let us know so that we can post it on the TecRec Blog.
Why not contact the manufacturer/distributor and let them know too, they may be able to publish dates or even come along to support you.
Schedule and organisation
A Discover Rebreather program can easily be run in as little as an hour, but TBH it takes a while to get used to a rebreather so if you can spend a bit longer with divers they will have more time to fall in love with the rebreather.
Why not do both, give them a short pool based Discover Rebreather as a taster session to get them interested and then move them out to confined water for a longer more in depth experience. This also helps avoid information overload. At this stage getting too technical too quickly can overwhelm participants. Be guided by the divers questions and if some divers want more in depth info, make time to answer their questions after the experience.
Unlike the PADI Rebreather and Advanced Rebreather Diver courses, the Discover Rebreather program doesn’t need to cover too much generic information. You will spend your time focussed on the rebreather the student will dive. Have the rebreather in front of divers during the knowledge development and encourage a hands on approach so that divers learn the theory connected to the equipment. While you don’t need to teach them indepth information about other rebreathers, divers usually want to compare attributes, so make sure you know enough about other units to give them a fair comparison. Tell the truth, if you don’t know the answer to a question about the rebreather you teach, tell them you will find out from the manufacturer. If you don’t know something about another unit, be honest about that too.
You will need to supervise every aspect of the diver kitting up and checking the unit but they will build knowledge and comfort with the unit by doing things under your supervision. If you need to intervene, explain what happened and how you solved it. There is nothing more disconcerting than not knowing enough about the equipment you are about to dive, imagine this:
A diver is sitting in a rebreather they are about to dive for the first time when it alarms, the instructor presses something and it stops alarming, the diver asks what the problem is and the instructor replies, “nothing to worry about, let’s get in the water”.
Eek – can you imagine anything worse than getting in the water wondering if there is something wrong! Obviously if there is, the diver shouldn’t be getting in the water, but the chances are there isn’t anything wrong and the instructor just felt they didn’t need to go into details for something minor. However, part of the battle is overcoming the years of negative press and teaching divers to learn to trust rebreathers.
And while we are on that subject, teach your divers to trust rebreathers from the very beginning. I hate the “treat your rebreather as if it will kill you” mentality. I don’t treat my open circuit equipment like that; if I thought my regs were going to kill me I wouldn’t use them! . I trust my rebreather to try and support life at all times. That is what it is designed to do. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting complacency, but you can take care of your equipment and monitor its functionality without being completely paranoid
So, we’re in the water. Make sure your divers are comfortable with everything at the surface and understand that it’s ok to dive like a beginner again when they first change to a rebreather. That way they aren’t surprised when they have less control to start with. Explain that experienced open circuit divers can often feel a little frustrated at their lack of skill on rebreathers, but that it will soon come back with practice.
Introduce skills slowly and don’t be tempted to rush divers or think they are bored. Most people want to spend time just watching the handsets, breathing on the rebreather and swimming in the shallows – experiencing the differences is why they are doing this.
To minimise risk to the diver, the Discover Rebreather experience keeps divers shallow. If you use confined water use certified assistants to lead the group wherever possible. This means the divers can concentrate on diving the rebreather and just follow the assistant without having to think too much about depth, navigation etc. It also leaves you free to change position and monitor the divers to make sure everything is functioning correctly. Don’t forget they have only very basic knowledge at this point, so you are responsible for their safety. Most Discover Rebreather participants are more interested in trying the equipment than in what they see on the dive, but if you do have fish life, show them how little disturbance rebreather divers make and that underwater animals pay less attention to rebreather divers than open circuit.
After the Dive
Back on the surface show divers what they need to do after the dive. One of the concerns people have is that rebreathers take too much maintenance. Show them what needs to be done and explain that (with proper maintenance) equipment set up shouldn’t take longer than an hour (often much less) and breakdown and cleaning is no longer than for open circuit.
Why not have a special stamp for rebreather dives so that you can stamp log books with something special. Make sure you give divers the chance to ask any questions they have and ask them what they liked and didn’t like about the experience. Finally, ask whether they would like to do more rebreather diving and how you can help.
If you have any questions about Discover Rebreather please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can help.