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Welcome to the world of responsibility! In the Divemaster knowledge development, there are a variety of topics to be mastered. Some will be taught to you in the classrooms, some from attending the 10 open-water dives and actually working with divers in training, some from the PADI text, The Encyclopedia of Recreational Diving, and some will be from the information that follows. In any case, the Divemaster is expected to be able to master instructor level topics such as planning a dive, dive control, dive management and the supervision of students, diving physics, diving physiology, handling equipment properly, be proficient in diving, knowing the diving environment and protecting the same, and being able to use the Wheel and the Recreational Dive Planner. The Divemaster must be able to act as a guide and a supervisor. The need to have dive site familiarity is important. That would include being able to make an underwater map of a dive site. Questions such as:
are important considerations for the Divemaster to be able to answer. In other words, the Divemaster is expected to collect sufficient information about the divers and the dive site.
Divemasters should be able to act as instructional assistants in order to manage and control those that are diving. It starts with getting prepared for a dive. The two primary components of dive planning are familiarization and assessment. The Divemaster is expected to help insure diver safety as well as serving as a useful model to other divers. It includes assisting students with their preparation for a dive. Is all the student's gear loaded? To answer that, the Divemaster should have a list of what each student will need. Is the oxygen and first aid kit on board? Do you have the tool box? Are the floats and flags packed? What means of communication is to be used, and is it ready to go? Does the Divemaster know how to use a cell phone, VHF radio, etc? The Divemaster should be able give briefings to the students for the dive. Communication is the element of control that involves the need for a thorough dive briefing. The art of correct positioning for briefing is an important element of control. Preparation for the briefing is another important element of control. Characteristics such as location, emergency numbers, depths, altitude adjustments, visibility, hazards, and expected life are important parts of the briefing. When working with student divers, positioning and recognition are two elements of control that are the most important.
Looking for problems and being able to correct them is also important. Students should not be allowed to attempt a skill they have not been taught. They cannot independently evaluate student skill performance! Also, Divemasters must be on the lookout for students that may need extra attention with their equipment and/or behavior, both on land and in the water. An important role for the Divemaster is to help divers strike a balance between their fear and curiosity of the underwater environment.
Divemasters are of great assistance in pre-dive safety checks. By using the PADI BWRAF they can insure the divers will be entering the water with safety on their side. The name of every diver and their entry and exit times must be noted so proper accounting can be done.
Divemasters are expected to be expert instructional assistants. Divemaster is the minimum certification a person must hold in order for PADI to allow them to act as a certified assistant. After the Instructor teaches a concept it is important for the Divemaster to reinforce the material. In order to do that, it is necessary to have a professional attitude, be a role model, and make diving fun. This is true both in the pool and in open-water. Being able to respond to situations using the appropriate equipment is important. For example, if an emergency occurred, the Divemaster should have the equipment needed in order to recall other divers, as well as being in the proper position to notice the problem immediately. Of all the dive-supervision guidelines the most often overlooked is the Divemaster's readiness for response.
Boats and diving seem to go together many times. A boat that is used for hire must have a captain that has a US Coast Guard Operator's License. In addition, if the boat carries more than 6 passengers it must be certified by the Coast Guard, and a Certificate of Inspection must be displayed aboard the vessel. During diving operations the captain, or another licensed operator, must remain aboard the vessel. There must be a personal flotation device (PFD) for each person on board. There must be adequate fire extinguishers and navigation lights. A signaling device, such as a horn or bell, as well as a radio must be aboard. The Divemaster is STRONGLY urged to take a course in boating such as the ones offered by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.
As discussed in the classroom on decompression, it is important for the Divemaster to be proficient in decompression theory and the use of the tables. Subjects such as compartments, tissues, gas exchange, half-lives, M-values, the Recreational Dive Planner, the use of oxygen in the first aid of Decompression Illness, and multi-level and multi-day diving should be an integral part of the Divemaster's knowledge!
The Final Examination: There are eight (8) parts to the examination. There are a total of 150 questions and they are mostly multiple choice with 10 true/false. The examination is broken down as follows:
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