PADI Certified assistants can make or break a diver training program. Unfortunately, all to often certified assistants are relegated to schlepping tanks and gear around. If you’ve read my recent posts on Divemaster and Assistant Instructor(AI) training, you know that the training isn’t trivial. As an Instructor, why would I spend the time and effort to train a PADI Certified Assistant and then have them do just grunt work?
How can PADI certified assistants help you in your training courses?
- Supervising students you’re not directly working with
- Coordinating course flow (see my post on multilevel training)
- Act as an equipment and travel counselor to your students
- Act as an intermediary between your students and you
- Be another set of eyes in the classroom, pool and open water to help prevent problems
- Be a trained person in case an accident does occur
- Be part of your risk management strategy
Let’s take a look at a few of these. How can they be an intermediary and why should I need that? Believe it or not, sometimes students are intimidated by the instructor. Your assistant might be more approachable. They might also be able to answer student questions directly.
Another set of eyes. I’ve made many dives in limited visibility with several students. The only way this could work is to have assistants keeping an eye on the students I couldn’t directly see. Knowing that my assistant was there, I knew the students were in good hands. When I needed to switch which students I was working with, I could signal my assistant to keep an eye on the rest. This is an extreme case. Just in a typical pool training session, a certified assistant might notice some difficulty a student has with setting up their gear that I might have missed because I was focused on another student.
Divemasters and AI’s have completed Rescue Diver and CPR/First Aid training (and it should be current if they’re working for you). They should be proficient in the skills from Rescue (having them help with at least one Rescue course each year helps a lot). With that in mind plus their Divemaster training, they are excellent assets in the event you do have a diving accident.
While it’s not always fun to talk about, we do have legal responsibilities and we need to manage our risks, including legal risks. Having a certified assistant around provides part of that for the reasons listed above. Beyond that, they can be a witness in the event there are ever charges that something was inappropriate. You should also use them as a second set of eyes on paperwork. Make sure all of the NO’s on the medical form are really spelled N-O and aren’t “N”, check marks or the mysterious Y-E-S that you thought was a N-O. This also get’s your assistant in the mind set of what they need to keep an eye on as they continue their diving career.
Remember, certified assistants, PADI Divemasters, PADI Assistant Instructors or higher, are highly trained diving professionals. They’re not just there to schlepp gear.