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Discussion in 'SDI/TDI/ERDI' started by Brian SDI/TDI HQ, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. Brian SDI/TDI HQ

    Brian SDI/TDI HQ IDC Staff Instructor


    Thank you for the kind words, we are glad to be here.

  2. Steve R

    Steve R DIR Practitioner

    Hi Brian:

    I was wondering when TDI would be introducing an entry-level decompression course that would allow the use of helium as appropriate in certain environments such as the one I live and dive in.

    I understand as the president you cannot know every finite detail of every region, but as a diver in the 'deep south' (Niagara Region) area of southern Ontario, I can say, and in fact your records would bare this out that TDI has effectively been shut out of the technical diving instruction arena.

    There are very few active instructors in this local demographic to begin with, and some have either decided against teaching TDI decompression courses due to this fact, or in some cases have crossed to NAUI whom I have been told "has more robust course offerings" with which the instructor can use to their advantage, both in marketing and more importantly diver knowledge and safety.

    To be honest with you, to the best of my knowledge, I would have been the only active TDI technical instructor the region had left had I not made a personal decision to fore-go the training after deciding I could not proceed without a change in this area of thinking. As mentioned, the rest have become inactive or crossed to other agencies.

    If TDI does not actually have any plans at this point in time, I am still looking to hear your personal comments on the matter, as well as possibly some members of the BOD in order for us to gauge the lay of the land moving forward with respect to this.
  3. Normoxic Diver

    Normoxic Diver Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Europe
    Hello SDI/TDI/ERDI,

    It's really fantastic (at least for me...) to see the ''official presence'' of a training association in a forum....

    Looking forward to read your posts!
  4. Brian SDI/TDI HQ

    Brian SDI/TDI HQ IDC Staff Instructor

    Hello Steve:
    Thanks for your posting and questions.

    I think the best way for me to answer is to begin by describing some of the background process that goes into course development at International Training.
    Our curriculum is reviewed on a regular basis. This review process is a complex one but boiled down to its basics it puts our courses in context with currently accepted safe diving practices, what the various markets globally will willingly accept, and what our insurance coverage will tolerate. There’s more to it than that but that paints the picture with broad strokes. The review process also involves a lot of people with a tremendous amount of recreational dive industry experience in retail, manufacturing and teaching as well as in a variety of other branches of applied diving such as commercial, scientific, and military applications. These people include our training department, training advisory panel, HQ staff instructors, our cadre of instructor-trainers and the regional partners that represent International Training (SDI, TDI and ERDI) around the world.

    The addition of a new standard for another helium-based program has been discussed quite regularly, and was a topic at the last Global Strategy Meeting we hosted in May of 2006. I suspect it may well come up again at the next GSM scheduled for May 2008, in Maine.

    At the moment, we do not see it being a required program since we already offer helium-based training at two levels, and this approach has been very successful for us for more than a decade. I have not looked at the figures for technical certifications in southern Ontario recently but I know that Steve Lewis – who is now on staff here at HQ and who was a valued member of our training advisory board, and I understand was your trimix instructor – moved away from that area a couple of years ago, but I think any void that may have been left by Steve’s departure was amply filled by several other equally competent and very senior instructors who work out of the eastern GTA. Last I heard these people are doing very well. There may not be a senior TDI technical instructor in your city, but total saturation is not part of our marketing strategy. I am sure someone looking for training in your area could find good technical instruction without too much trouble and would be welcome to contact TDI HQ for some suggestions.

    You bring up two very puzzling points in your posting. I may have misunderstood but you seem to be under the impression that TDI does not promote safe diving practices and that we do not offer an entry-level trimix course. Both of these are incorrect.

    TDI was the first certification agency to offer an “introductory trimix” course with standards that made it very easy for someone who needed to use helium mixes on deeper dives to get quality training without jumping through hoops… The maximum depth that graduates from this course are certified to dive to is 60 metres or 200 feet or the deepest depth attained during the class whichever is shallower. As with all our training standards, there is no minimum depth specified. Once qualified a diver may use any mix he chooses as long as it can be breathed at surface pressure without ill effects from hypoxia.
    Trimix training prior to our introduction of this type of training was difficult to find and hard to sign-up for and our liberal approach to advanced diver training was a huge factor in TDI becoming the largest technical training agency in the world. A position we have managed to hold on to since 1994 in an increasingly competitive market segment from agencies like NAUI, which you mentioned. I would agree that NAUI has a very good program (many senior TDI instructors taught for NAUI prior to joining us by the way, myself included), and we respect them as an agency.

    With regards to diver safety and knowledge, I fail to see how adding helium to our current decompression program adds to diver safety or knowledge. Please explain that.

    Helium is used principally to manage the partial pressure of oxygen and nitrogen in deeper, more complex dives. There is debate about where the best depth for this type of management begins. You mentioned local conditions – and since I have dove in your general area several times I’d guess you mean cold, dark water, and sometimes working hard. Given this, most of us would start using helium much shallower than we would diving somewhere warm, clear and calm. That’s a given.

    Decompression Procedures has a very specific skill-set attached to it. And very modest depth limits. The maximum depth for the course would be outside the comfort range of some in Great Lakes conditions, but of course this course can be, and is, conducted in very shallow water. I’ve seen it conducted successfully in less than 80 feet of water off the east coast.

    Graduates from this class can then go on to conduct increasingly more complex staged decompression dives and when they have some experience in this area, may opt to dive below the “industry standard 40 metres 130 feet” by enrolling in a trimix class.

    It sounds like you have read standards and misunderstood what they actually mean. None of maximum depths cited in TDI course standards are “required” depths for successful completion of the course. They are outside limits and cannot be exceeded by our instructors at any time. Our instructors are encouraged to modify courses within standards to suit local conditions. If your experience with Steve Lewis or any other TDI instructor was different (I’ll be surprised) but I would like to hear about it.

    Human nature being what it is, we know that divers upon graduation sometimes dive well beyond the limits set by their training. And frankly, this is one of the reasons we do not like to teach the use of helium without also including a solid foundation in staged decompression diving. (There is no such thing as a no-deco helium dive in reality.) In practice, the temptation for someone who has been certified to use helium on sport dives, where partial pressures of oxygen and nitrogen are well within tolerable limits, and to then begin to do technical dives is simply too great. We have seen an alarming increase in this sort of behavior in the past couple of years.

    Safety in deep diving is much more than adding helium to one’s mix. Gas management, situational awareness, buddy skills, buoyancy, equipment selection and management are all far more important on a dive between 30 and 40 metres (100 and 130 feet). And TDI’s current course line-up does an excellent job of teaching those skills as a foundation for deeper dives on helium.

    I feel our program is superior and offers divers and instructors a clear and user-friendly path to promote diver knowledge and safety. I am sorry you choose to disagree.

  5. Steve R

    Steve R DIR Practitioner

    Hi Brain, thanks for the reply. I am pretty sure we can move quickly through your post and get back down to it.

    Rest assured I am fairly well versed on the review process having done that dance before. I appreciate the review.

    You must have misunderstood. As you know Steve was my mix instructor, so you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am well versed in the course progression, standards, and what is and is not mandatory etc. I also have been around other classes and know the rather huge variations that develop under the standard.

    I did not really ask to where I could send local divers for “current program” TDI technical instruction outside of our region. I also did not suggest that you did not have an entry level mix program, again as you yourself have already mentioned Steve was my mix instructor. I know the progression and now am almost insulted at the comment because you knew prior to penning it, it was not true.

    The question I did pose however was of the use of helium in a divers “Initial” Decompression class.

    As you are no doubt aware, several training agencies have long allowed just this for what are obvious reasons, and they see no issues with it being in their curriculum. Even on a marketing basis, it would be nice to compete on the same level, if not for more important factors than market share et al. I know for a fact in my area (The one you could reasonably expect for me to be most tuned to) TDI have lost instructor and student because of us not having this program. Those are facts, and that’s what I said I needed if I were to help TDI in the area. When I signed on I was told, much less under the impression, that TDI actually wanted some solid instructors down here in my region (because you had none). Boy don’t I feel like a monkey’s arse now.

    While I appreciate the history lesson, I have to say I am far more interested in spending my time with moving forward to what we will be doing, and spending less time sitting in the past. In fact, as I understand it this is what your initial post requested, continued input from divers in order to move forward. This is no longer 1994, thank goodness. Anyone living off of past graces needs to really wake up.

    In 20 words or less?

    In the same way that helium use is taught in any mix-based program. And of course you help answer the “why” in your own words further down in the next quote where you end with “That’s a given”.

    Ah, now we’re getting there and have found some common ground. I knew it was in there somewhere. I agree entirely. I should also take this time to suggest to you the working end of a new decompression diver in my area. It’s not unique I know, but it will lead into your next point.

    The typical decompression diver straight out the gate in our area starts doing 120-150ft maybe a tad more depth wrecks, yes in dark, cold, current, all the factors that would as you say “give us to start using helium shallower”. I guess it’s easy and I find rather flippant to tell someone to take yet another class in order to do a dive that for all intent and purpose they’ve been “carded” to do in the last course, but were not even given the opportunity to possibly make a simple decision in choosing an appropriate gas choice. It’s not like their intentions down here aren’t pretty much universal and well known, to see 5-6 ATA wrecks not dived by the recreational crowd. It’s time to get real on what decompression divers are actually doing under the auspice of a deco course. We aren’t fooling anyone.

    The maximum modest depth limit is 150ft. A depth we’ve already agreed upon could use mix under certain circumstances, especially in areas such as mine.

    Have to be honest with you here, there’s not an instructor in this area that I know of that conducts an entire deco class in 80ft of water, and in fact I do believe this would garner universal laughter. It’s just not how it works no matter how often people say it, imply it or believe it to be true. It’s simply not how it works.

    I doubt other areas vary much, but this would not pass the sniff test of a Basic Nitrox diver in most cases. I do suggest however than there can be a lot of NDL diving to be had at 80ft for a recreational diver using their basic nitrox card, and I suggest if that’s what they want to do, that they would not require a deco class at all. It certainly would be next to useless around here for divers to do that.

    Surely you understand that most every class has experience dives to upwards of the maximum depth. It’s pretty universal. Sometimes we call them graduation dives, and they are typically the last one or two dives of the course. It sounds to me like we’re trying our best to be only half-pregnant here to save face with an obvious problem in the course as it plays out in the real world. If you think people should not dive to 150’ in certain conditions, I think it’s the responsibility of the agency to change the standard, the writing on the back of the card, and more importantly the public perception of the class, to a depth a fair amount less than 150ft (or the use of mix as appropriate), because right now that is not only possible, it’s most often how it’s done. There’s simply no deny reality without coming off looking like the hind-end of a pony.

    So now it’s 130ft. Where did that come from? Opt? The deco card and manuals still states 150ft, and it’s sold and marketed as such. A mix card beyond 130ft. I’ll await the update to the manuals I guess, because I don’t see that as a standard anywhere in the newest batch. Most divers would have assumed they “opted” to dive to a max of 150ft on air prior to even contemplating mix because that has been and is the implication we give, but I see we’ve already decided why that’s not a good idea. Again, the class is never written up, sold or publicly perceived in a manner you are trying to light it with. Public perception of a deco course is beyond NDL and deeper than 130ft. We lever than belief and are willing and more than happy to do so. Of course it’s nicely worded so you can always state the following………….

    Mmmm, current standards…..

    I doubt I misread anything, and what’s more important, I am fully aware of how your typical class is run. Glad we keep coming back to Steve as a great example of someone with positive course modification. What do we do about those instructors and IT’s that actually ?recklessly? run to the limit on every course because they can by standard? Not likely you’re too willing to do much about it as in a reality they are following the standard. They have done nothing wrong and are covered. Shiite happens I think you folks call it.

    I’d give you a few examples locally how this excellent plan really didn’t work out like we had hoped, but I know you know about them because of the written complaints from students. Evidently it would seem it’s a much more streamlined and safe approach just to make some actual concrete standards that stand on the side of safety. It’s much easier to manage the available nonsense that way, and certainly leaves the students in a better and safer position. I may also suggest a regular interval of instructor re-quals, which would include more than ‘how many students have you taught and to what level this year?’ approach. Possible food for another topic.

    This would be food for another day, but the working reality of it is if you can’t dive in 80ft of water safely, you needn’t go any deeper with any gas, much less a technical course of any kind. If this doesn’t stand as obvious to just about anyone at any level, we have greater issues to deal with.

  6. Steve R

    Steve R DIR Practitioner

    Whether I agree or disagree is not really the point.

    I think it’s a matter of judging a course by the same measure that you currently judge any other course in your bag. It’s pretty obvious to most of us that “deep air”, our Extended Range course, is seen in this day and age as a has-been course, and one not at all taught for many very good reasons around here, or even in North America any longer. Steve’s comment has always been, “If you don’t like it (or don’t believe in it), don’t teach it”. Ditto for SDI’s solo class.

    The point here is that SDI/TDI still support these courses, as well as obtains and pays insurance for them as well as making an income from them, even though they are not considered ‘current’ by today’s best knowledge. They are not a universal fit, but still have enough appeal to someone, somewhere, to still be on the books. Fair enough, I accept that.

    The course in question here is no more or less asking to be judged by the very same measure. It’s a “take it or leave it” class. Use it if you can, if not, ignore it and go back to the original deco class. As indicated, it would be of much use and seems like a real no-brainer around here. It’s already a given what we’ve lost locally to date because of not having it as even an option. By the same measure, there is no reason for it not to be included.

    It’s already employed by others, so we cannot state that it does not work or cannot be employed successfully as we see fit. It is certainly insured as well. I think if in this day and age you can still get insurance for Extended Range and solo diving, you could get this worked out without a problem. Putting it off another year or two does absolutely no good. It’s been put off too long already. We’ve missed the lead boat.

    I see this issue is mostly a matter of old-school resistance, and one of not wanting to disrupt the current line-up of courses and board members, far more than it is an actual barrier to safety, knowledge or insurance, which are all common excuses that are given as why we ‘can’t’ do that.

    I suggest TDI is here on ScubaBoard more for the marketing exposure, and not really for the serious discussion of the modern day issues facing us or the technical dive industry, regardless of your comments in the opening.

    In closing I find that your program is not really superior, it is mediocre at best, and what is more you seem content to let it run as it is and have dismissed calls for improvement. TDI seems loath to address the real issues until years after they should have, if they do at all.

    As someone who helps foot the bills and have spent more than enough money and effort training students to a level that TDI would be proud of, we deserve better than that for what we are asking with this.

    My apologies if you might disagree.
  7. Chad Carney

    Chad Carney Dive Equipment Manufacturer

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, FL
    Steve R,

    Flame the Pres of a training agency on a welcome thread... classy!

    It's not too late to delete and start your own thread.

    Chad Carney (No relation to Brian)
  8. JeffG

    JeffG Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Edmonton, Alberta
    Why should he? Its spot on.
  9. Kevin R

    Kevin R Barracuda

    # of Dives:
    Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    My hat is off to Steve R on this one. It's about time someone on the inside told the king hes naked.

    The beauty of the internet is the allowance for open discussion regardless of the POV. The opening post asked for opinions and ideas and Steve seems willing to stand up for both of his.
  10. zvinzonz

    zvinzonz Nassau Grouper

    wow been away from this board for few months and im surprised to see SDI/TDI have their own forum now. well all i can say is "it's about time guys". this is a great organization and i know i will continue learning more stuff using this organization.

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