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"Drowned" generally refers to someone that has actually died... do you mean that?
I've never heard of any that have... among the DM's and instructors at our shop i don't want to guess how many students we've all collectively had, and there have been no stories [real or otherwise]...
you learn in the rescue course how to deal with divers that are in a full panic state... the "victims" (divemasters) don't cut you any slack... if they can grab you, you're going under, getting kicked, climbed on, punched, regs out of mouths... the full works, as they should as well. in the training you get the ability to stop and discuss the situation, how to better it for next time, review what when right and wrong.
you can't ask someone who actually believes they're drowing to stop for a minute while you get your breath.
I've had it happen twice to me. Kicker is it wasn't either as a DM and wasn't my buddy or group. Was also in a rock quarry... Fun stuff let me tell you. Many years of lifeguarding and the training that went with that was much more helpful than what we were taught in scuba. If you train your students well, that type of stuff should present itself in the pool long before you make it to open water
I got in a serious situation during a rescue exercise once due to the student's mistake but I wasn't a DM at the time. I was just playing "victim"
In the years I was a DM I witnessed one case of full blown panic during a dive from a student who probably shouldn't have been taken to her check out dives at that point. As an instructor, I learned from that moment and I've (knock on wood) never had a student panic during a checkout dive. In that case, the instructor did the "tackling" and not the student so there was no danger to me as DM. My role at that point was to remain with the rest of the students.
I still get the odd one that wants to bolt in the pool (99 times out of 100 it happens during the first few attempts at the mask skills) but I feel that the 1% is my fault and at some point i'll have it nailed.
How often do DM's get drowned by panicked students? Have any DM's here had to fight off a panicked diver?
I'm not aware of any DM's drowning because of a student. Having to deal with panicked students grabbing ahold of you isn't unheard of but is very infrequent. I've certified close to five hundred students and have only had it happen to me once. Mostly my fault - I was distracted, dropped my guard and wasn't looking for trouble.