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   What training/skills/attributes do I need for overheads? PART 1

    Situtational Awareness or SA


     In my last post I went into what I feel is an overhead environment and how there is a lack of understanding about what they are and what part agencies play in this area. Here I will submit my recommendations for overhead training and the foundations I feel are necessary for that training to be successful. The number one quality an overhead diver needs to possess is situational awareness or SA as it will be referred to from this point. This cornerstone of the foundation, above all else, will aid the diver in executing safe dives in overhead environments. SA allows the diver to asses all aspects of a dive. From the time the decision to dive is made up until it is time to exit the water and subsequently log the dive.

     SA encompasses all aspects of the process. It is what should make the diver realize they need special training to safely dive in these environments. When a diver looks at a site or dive plan and realizes that they will have no direct access to the surface at some point during that dive it should make them stop and think. They need to do a self assessment of their skills, training, experience, and comfort level.  They need to look at the same qualities in the persons they will be diving with and decide if such a course is a good idea. Unless the diver has had some type of overhead training previously the answer to whether to dive or not should be a resounding NO!

     Too many new divers are taught to put their trust in someone with more experience and training to plan the dive and then go along with that plan. Many times that person is a "dive professional" with a DM or instuctor rating. That the DM or instructor themselves has perhaps only basic training and little experience in a particular dive is of no matter. They are looked up to as some kind of expert that will keep the diver safe. SA will cause the diver to stop and question one of these so called "pros" and make an informed decision of whether or not to follow them.  It will also require the diver to come up with their own plan and not blindly follow like a mindless sheep.  (click title to expand article)

         SA will allow the diver to do an honest self appraisal and discover that, without proper overhead training, the diver is effectively playing Russian roulette with more than one bullet in the cylinder. In some cases it is like playing it with an automatic and hoping for a misfire or broken firing pin. When you are able to do an honest evaluation of yourself and discover and accept your limitations you are well on the way to becoming a successful overhead environment diver. This assessment will cover not only your physical skills and knowledge of diving but should also take into account some other factors as well. Your own emotional and mental state plays a huge role in whether or not a diver can be safe in such and environment. It is obvious that individuals with claustrophobia are not good candidates for caves, wrecks, or under the ice dives. Mild forms of this do not always disqualify a diver from SCUBA but should from overheads.

    This is my opinion and should not be taken as the official position for anyone else. But what about other forms of emotional issues? Someone prone to panic is even more dangerous in an overhead than in open water. This should be obvious but still needs to be said. Someone going through any form or personal emotional trauma or upset should not consider overhead diving as a possible method to deal with it. Especially when you need to consider that others will be diving with them.

    Overhead environments can also be very physically demanding and an honest self evaluation of your fitness level and strength should be undertaken and if necessary addresses. Here is where SA is used to keep an ego in check and perhaps save a life or lives. To be continued...


Posted by jimlap212 on Wednesday January 01, 2014 11:46 am



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