Engage your senses

Following on from last week’s post “Can you see into the Future” I started thinking about how we use all our senses as instructors.

We watch our students, to to monitor them and also check they are doing things correctly, which is sometimes rather challenging. Masks, no matter how low profile, limit our vision, water conditions can affect the size of group you can monitor and, let’s face it, diving students (and sometimes assistants!) do not always stick together. In fact, sometimes it is rather like herding cats!

Some students are better behaved than others!!!
Some students are better behaved than others!!!

We listen to our students. On the surface what they say gives us both obvious and subtle clues to how well they are progressing on the course and how comfortable and confident they are. Underwater we listen for the tell tale sign of inflator systems, exhaled bubbles when diving open circuit or rebreather noises that shouldn’t interrupt the lovely silence of CCR diving. In fact, when teaching rebreathers I think I use my hearing almost as much as my sight.

Remaining professional means that we need to have good judgement as to when it is appropriate to touch others, including understanding cultural differences and expectations. But we all use direct touch to help divers correct their difficulties when we need to intervene and we may even hold their hands when they are having a complete nightmare!  I’m sure I’m not the only one to have seen even the big tough guys with their bottom lip wobbling.

Taste and smell are tools used to make sure our gas supply is normal, although personally I employ a CO analyser as well these days, just in case there is a problem I can’t taste or smell. As far as our students are concerned – probably better to keep these senses to yourself! LOL!

Martin Robson shows that even a bunch of PADI Course Directors and Staff can be kept under control
Martin Robson shows that even a bunch of PADI Course Directors and Staff can be kept under control

Intuition isn’t officially a sense, but I think it is very important for diving instructors. There are so many occasions when you “know” something is wrong or are uneasy with a situation. Lots of incident survivors have this feeling but keep going anyway. Sometimes you can play detective and track down the cause, but if not, better to play safe and make sure everyone gets out of the dive in one piece. If you can achieve that objective there is always another day for a dive!

So, now that I have you thinking about this topic please post your comments telling me how you use your senses. It would be great to hear as many people’s techniques as possible, so that we all get to hear whether others use the same techniques or have different tips and tricks that we can try for ourselves.

Vikki Batten, Director, Rebreather Technologies

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