During the first quarter of 2015, PADI introduced the revised Ice Diver speciality course. The new curriculum is based on the input of an international committee (made up of PADI Ice Diving Instructors, including Michel – Editor) . It clarifies the information found in the previous version and also gives more leeway to accommodate different local needs. I was proud to be part of the committee and to now provide some insight regarding the courses I ran in February 2015. To give you a brief idea of my background, I am a Technical diving instructor as well as a PADI Master instructor. I am located in Quebec, Canada.
The first course was a success. We had 8 students and were able to test the ability to run the course on 1 day since all of the students were diving in drysuits. Usually if I have students in wetsuits, I will prefer stretching out the course over 2 days.
The standards were slightly updated 2 years ago for those who wanted to conduct the 3 dives in 1 day. One of the modifications was that the dives needed to last at least 20 minutes to be logged (as per all PADI courses). In the past, there was an exception for the Ice diver course as you didn’t need to complete the full 20 minutes. At first, I was concerned about this. So for the 2015, we enlisted the help of 3 assistants to make sure we could proceed in a way that would allow students to enjoy the experience.
The method was very well received by students. They preferred doing 3 dives in 1 day as it had the following advantages: preparing and closing the hole only once, not having to deal with frozen equipment the next day, avoid the risk of catching a cold and not being able to complete the course the next day, etc. I believe that our success in running the course on 1 day was due to tight logistics and the presence of more assistants. This enabled student divers to have sufficient time between dives to warm up in a temperate shelter before returning underwater.
Another standard change we experimented; the fact that the Rescue divers no longer need to be all geared up. They only need to be able to enter the water quickly. We used our certified assistants to play this role and this again allowed students to warm up, relax and enjoy their day. A quick note about certified assistants: they will now need to be trained as a Rescue diver and have participated in rescue exercises under ice. The best option is to use the 4th optional dive and to document it with a complete student folder (3 forms) and a training record. It’s important to sign their logbook as well.
The weekend following the various Ice diver courses, we held a clinic for the 4th optional dive. This dive was a highlight of the new standards and to my surprise, out of 12 students I trained with the new standards, 10 signed up for that 4th dive. The only 2 that did not were lacking the Rescue diver level required. I’m sure they will enroll in a Rescue diver course next summer and come back for the 4th dive. We had a blast doing the required scenarios! Overall, I consider the new standards a great improvement and can’t wait to teach my next class!
Michel Labrecque www.n2pix.com