How to Prepare For a Successful DiveSimon Vetterli
Below are some things to keep in mind as a dive leader preparing for a dive. The below tips will depend on such things as the level of training of the divers and the type of dive you are leading.
Look over all your gear the night before and make sure you have everything you need for the dive and that it is in good working condition. (Follow recommended and/or required inspections on items like regulators, BCs and tanks. You could be found negligent if there is a dive accident due to or related to your unmaintained equipment failure).
Check the weather. While most times you might not be sure how the weather is going to turn out until you are on site, there are occasions where you can tell in advance if a dive should be called. No point delaying the inevitable if it is one of those days.
Get to the site/boat early. This will give you time to examine the dive site, if doing a shore dive, and get your gear in order. The last thing you want to be doing is rushing to setup or stow your gear while divers are showing up. Having all your gear in order will let you observe the divers and their gear. With you not being rushed or distracted you have a better chance of catching anything wrong with the divers’ gear or the way it is set up. You can also take the time to talk with or watch the divers as they gear up and assess anyone for over nervousness or anxiety. As we all know, problems are way easier to deal with on land then in the water. This is true whether it be a loose tank strap or a diver who may not be mentally ready for the dive. Either of these issues, and many in between, can lead to exacerbated issues underwater that could distract the dive leader and lead to an accident.
Give a detailed briefing. The more the divers know going into the dive the more they can visualize and prepare for it. Some good points to include in the dive brief include site orientation (where are they and what can they expect to see. Include things like, maximum depth, current and water temp), equipment needed (for example if in navigable waters a float and flag, or primary and secondary flashlights for a night dive), entry and exit locations and methods (if on a boat, let them know if you are doing a giant stride or backward roll and give a brief review of the one you are doing), other dive leaders on hand (include which dive leaders will be with which divers and which ones will be surface support), dive objective (for example if a river drift the objective would be to enter the water at point A and use the water current to exit at point B), and then the dive plan (lay out in order how they are going in, what they are going to do and how long the dive is to last). The more detail you can give in the briefing, the more at ease the divers will be and the better the chance of eliminating task overload.
Make sure you and the other dive leaders are on the same page with the dive plan and who is going to be responsible for what. You don’t want to wait until you’re under water to make these decisions and risk the divers feeling like the leaders are disorganized. This too can lead to diver stress and make the leader’s job more difficult.
When leading any dive, a good dive leader will do well to think what is their duty for the dive and what would the normal reasonable dive leader do under the circumstances. In thinking about this, the dive leader should call upon their training and this will guide them to follow the right course of action.