Re: Holding students "down"

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Posted by Ken kurtis on February 01, 2003 at 17:06:21:

In Reply to: Holding students "down" posted by Karl S. on February 01, 2003 at 12:38:28:

Karl S. wrote: "The student has the right to bolt to the surface if they want."

No they don't. They have a right to safely surface. They have a right to bail on a dive or skill with which they're not comfortable. But bolting - which places their safety in jeopardy and possibly yours - is never a "right" nor a good choice.

Karl continues: "The main concern of the instructor is whether they are exhaling continuously and not holding their breath [Rule #1 per Jacques Yves Cousteau] as they bolt."

I don't buy that either. Your main concern should be WHY they're bolting and what you can do to fix that (both of which you can't deal with until after the bolt is over and they've calmed down). Bottom line is that you've got a student that's either uncomfortable, or stressed out, or being asked to do skills outside their comfort zone and as an instructor, it's your job to also be a psychologist and figure out what's REALLY going on.

Karl adds: "If it looks to the instructor like the student is holding their breath, then you cannot let them ascend, and so you have to restrain them underwater, and keep them there, until they start breathing again normally on their regulator."

No offense, Karl, but I'm laughing my butt off at this scenario.

First of all, you MUST assume the bolter is holding their breath. It's simply a safer conclusion.

Secondly, you've got about a millisecond to make this judgment call because they're already BOLTING - they're not signaling "By the way in a minute or two I'll be bolting if that's okay with you" - so you're going up with them, hoping to hell they don't embolize, and doing watever you can (jamming the reg back in, punching them in the stomach, etc.) to try to prevent that.

Third . . . "restrain them underwater"??????? Have you ever tried to hold down a panicked person, let alone in a pool with nothing to grab on to expect tile? No way in hell you're holding them down and they will either break your grip or take you with them. The best you can hope for is to slow them down. You might have a slightly better chance in the openwater where there might be something to grab on to, but it's not much of a better chance.

Needless to say, since I reject that we-can-stop-them notion, the and-then-they'll-start-breathing-normally IMHO also doesn't come into play.

Karl: "It is more likely that a student would survive a near drowning [aspiration of water into the lungs] than survive an embolism."

Don't know that I'd agree with that blanket statement. Plenty of people drown, and plenty of embolisms survive.

Karl: "I dont agree with the notion of conducting a drill with a student where you as an instructor would purposely hold a student down, to "teach" a difficult skill, like mask clearing. If the student cant get the skill in the ordinary manner of training, which is by degrees, then this particular student probably should be given additional conventional training, or else dismissed from the course."

On this, I agree.

Ken Kurtis
NAUI Instr. #5936
Co-owner, Reef Seekers Dive Co.
Beverly Hills, CA

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