Saving A Life

By Jean-Marc Claes


What is the value of a life?


Does it matter whose life it is? A relative, family or a stranger?


How long is a stranger a stranger, and how fast do you connect to someone?


A dive buddy, randomly assigned to you by the dive operator on your next dive trip, can become a friend in just one dive, although you can meet other people multiple times and never become close.


This article is no social course on how to make (scuba) friends, nor is it a theoretical essay about social behaviour, so what is it about?


We are addressing an entirely different issue: the step between Advanced Scuba Diver and Rescue Diver and why we see a drop out of the next step in diving courses after completing the Advanced Scuba Course.


What is it that makes scuba divers lose interest in the rescue course?


Is not learning how to save another scuba diver the highest goal in our sport? The course is not only about that; it is also about learning how to minimize risks, improve safety for ourselves, understand diving equipment better, and so much more. (I am not writing the full content of a Scuba Rescue Course here, as that would take a few pages, and most dive organizations have the content of their Scuba Rescue Diver course nicely written down on their websites for you to have a look at!)


In fact, many scuba divers chose a different path after taking the Advanced Scuba diver courses and heading into more challenging dive subjects, like wreck diving, deeper diving, technical diving or even cave diving.


Is rescuing another diver not challenging enough, or is it the fact that we do not ‘see’ it happening enough that we do not want to invest our time/energy and money into it as we do see the return of investment happening?


Did we really pass the stadium where we became so selfish in scuba diving that we only invest in ourselves, the things we like to do or the equipment we like to have/own? I mean, action cams, underwater cameras, the nicest dive computers, and more.


Did you also notice that most scuba divers will easily spend 1000 USD on a dive computer model they don’t need? Could a 250 USD model do just fine for the level they are diving at while they could spend the 750 USD on a Rescue Course that they do not see the use for? Clearly, it is not always about the money; in this case, they ‘carry’ the computer but will never ‘use’ its real possibilities. It would be the same as investing in a Rescue Course and hoping you will never be in that situation where you will have to step up and save another diver in trouble).


In my 32 years of being a dive professional, and I mean dedicating my complete life to scuba diving, on a daily basis diving, teaching courses, organizing dive travel around the world, training and certifying instructors, teaching technical diving to all possible levels, I must honestly admit that taking my rescue diver course was maybe the most impressive one.


I must also admit that teaching the Rescue Courses during my career became a passion. It kept me sharp, taking away the possibility of ‘routine’ creeping into my scuba diving. It did help me (and some other scuba divers) in some serious situations to help them not lose control and get out of trouble. I can honestly say that I managed to save at least a handful of lives during my career, and those people were always ‘unknown’ to me until rescuing them!


Talking about being at the right time and the right place, or is it just a matter of caring for other people’s life and paying attention to what is happening around you while scuba diving?


This article is written as a result of a recent action I had to undertake with my dive buddy, saving the life of an 11-year-old girl who nearly drowned in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, left behind alone in the middle of too much sea for her to handle.


The girl escaped death by probably 30 seconds and is now doing fine. She was rescued because we cared, paid attention while preparing for our upcoming dive and took the time to intervene and help.

Sometimes you do not even need to be below the surface to help, to rescue, to see people in trouble and reach out (quickly) to help.


Believe me, the Scuba Rescue course helps prepare you for these times and helps you gain confidence, skills and decision-making when you get to that point where YOU make the difference in somebody’s life!


Plan for your next course to teach or take to be the Scuba Rescue Course. For those saying, I did that course already. Retake it! You will see that you did lose some skills, that you are open to learning more, and that you will be able to finetune skills and become better, more relaxed at those difficult tasks helping you to save a life!


In writing this article, I am thankful to Mr. Alexis Weyts, who was there with me to save the girl and being happy that he took his Scuba Rescue Diver course many years ago in a class I was teaching. He did the right thing at the right time, never hesitated and is equally responsible for saving a life!

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