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What type of training...

Discussion in 'Technical Diving' started by Peter Guy, Apr 4, 2010.

  1. Peter Guy

    Peter Guy Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Olympia, WA
    ...is the right type of training?

    I'm sure we've all had lots of different styles of training, both formal and informal. We may well have actually learned more from the informal training, but I hope we've all learned something from the formal training too. (OK, I'm talking tech training here....)

    On another board there was a discussion about training costs that led to some comments that could be read as "If you don't take your training from these guys, your training will be lacking." As a result of those comments, a friend asked me to identify any diving accidents that occurred when the diver followed even the minimum rules of whatever agency sponsored his training. With two exceptions, I couldn't identify any such accidents -- P. T.'s death and several accidents which apparently were result of medical issues.

    My friend's point appeared to be that as long as a diver followed normal protocol, serious incidents just wouldn't happen. And that "Little House On The Prairie" scenarios that are sometimes used in classes just don't approach the real world. (Has a three person team in a cave really lost all 9 lights, one mask and three posts? Has a three person team on deco really lost one mask, all deco bottles and 5 posts?)

    My friend's comment has thus lead me to question the efficacy of some of the more extreme instructional techniques -- very long days which lead to fatigue before you start a dive (me, I'll opt out of a dive if I'm fatigued at the start or just take it super easy -- wouldn't you?); extreme failure scenarios; etc.

    It also led me to the question he asked me to ask you all: Have you ever had a "Little House On the Prairie" incident in real life? What, in fact, has ever gone wrong during a dive -- technical or not?

    And finally, are there severe diving incidents out there where someone followed the rules but got into trouble anyway?

    Which ends up going back to the title -- What type of training for diving is the right kind of training?

    Just musing and looking for your thoughts on the questions.

    For the record, I'm not sure there is any "right kind of training" -- but I do think there is a wrong kind and THAT is when the student doesn't learn from the course and/or comes out in worse shape than when he started.
  2. wedivebc

    wedivebc CCR Instructor Trainer ScubaBoard Supporter

    I have no idea what a "LHOTP" incident is but I do believe that running hugely complex failure scenarios does not prepare a diver for an actual emergency. I do believe a diver needs to be challenged in training beyond where a normal emergency might take them but the examples you give above are a little outrageous.
    TDI has a schedule of complication building known as "No Excuses" which incrementally builds on failure modes until the diver starts to feel task loaded. I find dealing with more than 3 or 4 simultaneous failures task loads a diver beyond any practical training value.
  3. TSandM

    TSandM Missed and loved by many. Rest in Peace ScubaBoard Supporter

    I don't have any problem with handling multiple failures, or the idea that stressing students is reasonable in technical classes. I do sometimes wonder if classes that run multiple days of more than 12 hours are reasonable . . . I learned very early on not to cave dive if I'm tired, because my attention wanders and I make mistakes. Not very surprisingly, I've done that in classes, too.

    In surgical residency, we had to learn to function when we were tired, because you can't guarantee that emergency cases will come in when you are well-rested and sharp. But I CAN control when I do a cave or technical dive, and not do it if I am not on top of my game, so I see little value in making students show that they can cope with fatigue (except the normal fatigue of a long dive, or something of that sort).
  4. Dive-aholic

    Dive-aholic Dive Shop

    # of Dives:
    Location: North Florida - Marianna area
    I have never been a fan of training that requires 12+ hour days with multiple failures on top of multiple failures. As Dave points out, it doesn't have any practical value. And I believe it can actually be counterproductive. While Parker Turner's death has become infamous as the one and only cave diving death that occurred to someone that was not breaking any of the rules and that did not have any medical issues, there is more to it than that simply statement. The training that is the focus of the other thread can, and in fact, does, have drawbacks. One major drawback is that students are pressured to complete dives in stressed situations under physical fatigue. I'm a big believer in practicing what you preach. I teach my students that any dive can be called at any time by anyone for any reason. The course in question does not teach that. After paying that kind of money, students feel immense pressure to do all the dives and complete all the skills. If they don't, they have to come back and pay more. My students know if they don't complete every dive they can come back into another class to complete them for no extra charge. And if they want to schedule a separate day just for them, I only charge them my daily rate. There's no pressure. In fact, I had a student walk away 1/2 way through my last Intro/Basic course because his head just wasn't in the game. I praised him for that decision! Who is going to walk away from a $2500 course, though? Better question is has anyone walked away from one of those courses because they didn't "feel" the dive? I'll venture to say the answer is no. So what does that do for the learning environment? It tends to make it a hostile learning environment. While I'm sure they cover all the material quite thoroughly, I'm not so sure most of their students are coming away from the course retaining all of that information.

    On the other hand, there can be courses that are too easy or don't cover enough. If we examined all the cave deaths that have occurred since we have had formal cave training in place and examine the courses they went through (not possible, but it would be nice), I'm willing to bet that more than just a few went through courses that did not place that much emphasis on what eventually caused them to die. Don't get me wrong! I'm not saying this is a rampant problem in instruction. What I'm saying is that I have had the benefit of partaking in several different cave courses over the past couple of years and what I have witnessed is that although all the instructors covered all the rules, not all instructors placed the same amount of emphasis on all the rules. In fact, there were times in which a rule was only mentioned once or twice in passing. This can lead to a diver thinking it's not that important and in turn violating the rule. It's not an intentional thing on anyone's part, but it's there. This is one of the reasons, I make it a point to relate a story about an incident for every safety issue I talk about in my courses. They aren't war stories; they are ways for the students to remember the rules and why they are so important to follow.

    In my own diving, I've had light failures, an air sharing incident, and buddy separation. But in looking at the rules - Training, Guidelines, Air, Depth, and Equipment - I give everyone of them the respect they deserve. The major one for me is having enough air and no matter what happens, anyone can get out as long as they have enough air.
  5. Blackwood

    Blackwood DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Southern California
    Regarding failures, I believe in realistic training.

    As was said, compounding failures until the student is overly task loaded is probably not realistic, but neither is an instantaneous OOG with no precursors (at least not at the level of diver I believe we're discussing). The realistic scenario is somewhere in between.

    Post failure which if not properly identified and address -> OOG. Great.
    Light failure without proper re-ordering of the team -> lost buddy. Great.
    Simultaneous loss of two teammates masks with third buddy OOG whilst shooting a bag... not so much.

    I do recognize and understand the value of using compounded failures to measure a student's comfort and ability, and I'd never suggest eliminating them from training regimens. But I do feel that focusing on the realistic scenarios is the way to go.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
  6. cerich

    cerich ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Georgia
    IMHO the biggest issue with advanced training in the technical arena is that true underwater comfort is missing. Simply put beyond just lacking buoyancy and trim skills there is a basic missing component of comfort underwater. That comfort comes from confidence in their own ability, in particular their ability to handle whatever issue may show up.

    You do NOT have a student develop this by meeting the min standards of any agency, even GUE and UTD. A good instructor will bring each student to a higher level. Some students will be challenged to meet min standards, others will have no problem at all but you as a instructor wont be adding any value unless you stretch their envelope of their comfort zone.

    Bottom line, yes maybe just shooting fr the min standards will allow 99.9% of your former students to go dive without death, how many will never dive at the tech level however? Will they get scared one day and feel their training was sub standard and just quietly stop?

    Train harder than you dive, we dive to enjoy ourselves, we train to do so safely. The objectives of diving and training are different and instructors that view their primary job as "checking the box" and "having fun" while training are in fact short changing their students.

    There is NOTHING we do in training that is more horrible than the reality of death on a technical dive. The harder we train the less likely that horrible death is to occur.
  7. cerich

    cerich ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Georgia
    I enjoy the challenge of long days. They do add additional risk however and can easily violate standards. Not where you want to be as a instructor. I prefer to break a tech course down so that there are no more than two consecutive days of training, then a break of at least one day.
  8. Cave Diver

    Cave Diver Divemaster

    I've come back to this thread a couple of times pondering a response. To me, the right type of training is what works. That may mean that an instructor has to offer several different styles of training to "mesh" with their students, because not everyone learns in the same way. My principal dive buddy and I have taken practically all of our tech training (with the exception of my cave course) together. We have vastly different methods of learning, but together we complement each other.

    When I took my cave training, I was woefully unprepared for the realities of the class. It was a private class, which made me the full focus for my instructor. Our first day in the water, he told me quietly, but firmly that without a marked improvement I wasn't going to pass the class. I was tired, I was cold, I was frustrated and he told me the realities of the upcoming days and left it to me if I wished to proceed. Determined, I dug down, got my buoyancy under control, perfected my kicks and completed the class. My instructor was patient and allowed me to do self discovery when de-briefing after class. We talked about my mistakes and we also talked about my accomplishments.

    In my Trimix class, we learned the value of not pushing the training. Worsening weather conditions during the original class caused us to cut it short and reschedule the final dives at later date a few months down the road. A bit disappointing, but in the long run it underscored the "any diver can call the dive at any time for any reason" lesson.

    My dive buddy learns best by listening. I learn best by reading. I usually find myself scanning through course material while the instructor talks. Both of us are very hands on and prefer to just get in the water and do it. My buddy and I end up playing "what if" scenarios back at the hotel and comparing notes. He reflects on things the instructor said, I bring up points I've read. My reading usually provides more in depth supplementation of things, which I then explain back to him. This ends up reinforcing both of our understanding of material, procedure and implementation.

    We also tend to do a lot of prep and research prior to taking training and have a pretty good idea what to expect once we get there. We usually still end up getting our ass kicked some but I wouldnt have it any other way.

    Having a trusted buddy is also invaluable to me for learning, because we can more honestly critique each other. Having dove so much together, we pick up on clues from each other that an instructor may not notice. We're also pretty good about calling each other out on bull**** during on regular dives too.
  9. Peter Guy

    Peter Guy Divemaster

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Olympia, WA
    CaveD -- funny you said it took you a while to respond. I've been thinking about starting this thread for a while but just didn't know how to do it -- and I'm not at all sure I did it correctly -- but at least it is done.

    My training has been of several different varieties -- from my one-on-one Cave class with an instructor who told me he no longer believes multiple-failure scenarios are worthwhile to my first "technical class" which was ALL failures and failures to see where the team broke -- and lots in between.

    BTW, "Little House On The Prairie" scenarios are "There's a tornado coming, the kids have typhoid, the horses are lame and we are out of food" -- i.e., failure upon failure upon failure.
  10. rjack321

    rjack321 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Port Orchard, Washington State
    These are absolutely required for some students (the cocky ones esp.) and worthless for others.

    When poo flys its been my experience that it goes from beneign to a total (potentially compounding) disaster pretty fast - these are outside of class dives too btw. You have to have a clear head in the ****storm to head it off at the pass.

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