How to reduce risk during the PADI Rescue course
In a recent webinar, PADI’s Instructor Development Manager Alan Jan explained PADI’s recommendations on how to conduct the PADI Rescue course during the current COVID-19 pandemic. He specifically spoke about teaching rescue exercise #7 – reacting to an unresponsive diver at the surface.
On the webinar, Alan emphasized that (like always in the Rescue course) there is not only one right way to do it.
Before starting the in-water exercises you can prepare yourself and your students by discussing the corona transmission risks. Make sure that you check local guidelines and ask people if they accept the risk before starting the course.
If your students are from the same household and they have no problem practicing rescue exercises the normal way, you can use that to your advantage.
Make sure you have extra materials available like wipes, gloves, and a bucket of bleach solution. Clean equipment in a 5 or 6% bleach solution for at least one minute.
The performance requirements for the Rescue course have not changed. During skill practice in the water, some of the steps in exercise #7 are simulated. It is a good idea to teach the correct procedures for rescue breathing before you enter the water, using a mannequin. You can let your students practice mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and the use of a pocket mask, in the classroom.
During practical training in the pool, it is impossible to avoid contact but you can try to minimize it.
As much as possible, you should follow the normal steps to teach this skill. Start with the approach, check for a response, drop the weights, call for help, etc. During the approach, don’t splash water on the victim. Simulate checking for breathing (look, listen, feel). Only look and don’t bring your ear to the victim’s mouth.
Avoid touching the victim’s face when removing their mask. Have the victim hold pocket mask ready in their hand with the underside towards his/her hand. Don’t touch the inside of the mask when placing it on the victim’s face.
Rescue breaths are simulated by breathing away from the victim. You can still stress some important points like properly opening the victim’s airways and making sure that the pocket mask has a proper seal.
Before teaching mouth-to-mouth in the pool it is important to sanitize your hands and/or use gloves. Start the exercise as before and simulate the breathing check (look, listen, feel) by only looking. When teaching mouth-to-mouth, simulate to take off the diving mask.
Again, you can simulate rescue breaths by blowing away from the victim. During rescue breathing, you hold the victim’s nose – on the mask.
These guidelines are important for every PADI instructor that is teaching the Rescue course during the corona crisis. They are especially important for IDC candidates because the evaluation criteria on the Instructor Exams have also changed.
On the PADI Instructor Exam candidates will only be asked to demonstrate rescue #7 using a pocket mask, NOT mouth-to-mouth. These changes are not permanent and PADI examiners will return to the normal evaluation criteria once the COVID-19 crisis is over.
PADI also published these recommendations in their “Guidelines for evaluation of Rescue Exercise 7 at the PADI IE”.