As a scuba diver there will always be a time when you need to look after number one. As a dive professional you are looking towards helping others but this doesn’t stop you from looking out after yourself still. On the contrary, you have to be overly prepared as your attention for most of your dive is on your students and clients so who is watching for you? Makes you think huh?
The self reliant diver program or solo diver as it is called in other agencies is scuba training to make you prepared and ready to handle situations by yourself. It gives you a different mindset to think about so should something arise, you are ready to deal with it, without necessarily reaching out to ask for assistance. When teaching open water students and Discover scuba diving students you need to be ready as if you personally have an issue, they may not be in a position to be able to help you.
I have offered self reliant training as part of the PADI Divemaster program for a couple of years now as I feel that it is super important for all of our professionals in my mind to be ready for any emergency and have those additional skills when they are scuba diving.
The self reliant program covers a number of skills including mental preparation and equipment preparation as well as scuba skills, for checking your air, buoyancy and more. I cannot recommend enough to get the training, but if you can’t, what can you, as a scuba diver do to prepare yourself when diving.
Firstly, one of the fundamental rules of scuba diving is plan your dive and the dive your plan! Seems simple enough doesn’t it? But how many divers, especially resort fun divers do we see out there who are not even thinking about a plan. “oh no worries, I’ll follow the Divemaster, he has a computer!!”. You ultimately are the only person who follows your exact plan, so invest in a computer if you don’t have one and then set out your plan and follow it. Set your depth, time and course so that boat captains, other divers etc will know where you are/were. If you have no computer use your dive tables please.
Now, think about all that could go wrong. Regulator, BCD, air consumption and plan to solve it. This may mean taking additional equipment. Take a spare air supply, take a back up buoyancy device (this could be a large safety sausage!) and make sure you have an additional timing device and mask. If your computer stops working you still have a depth gauge and a watch to hit your safety stop.
Watch your air consumption. A great way to plan for this is to calculate your surface air consumption (SAC). You can then use this to figure out approximately what size tanks you would need for each for your dives. This exercise in itself makes you so much more aware of your air consumption which is an added bonus.
These skills are covered in the program, but, as I mentioned, you can look at these yourself just to add an extra level to your scuba diving if unable to take the program.
Always be prepared before a dive with your mental checklist and equipment lists and plans. Scuba diving is an amazing sport and you want to make sure that you stay safe!