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Its TimeWith the start of the new season here on Koh Tao we’ll be jumping in with both feet with Divemasters arriving on the first, followed by DCS Upgrades, Instructor Crossovers & then onto the ITC, all before Christmas.

Making the change of a lifetime & choosing a new career as a dive professional will be an early present for those involved.

Maybe a new years resolution to stage the change could be a promise to make yourself. Happy high season everyone!

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Clock Watching

October 31st, 2013

Clock WatchingNitrox is defined as a breathing mixture with a higher Oxygen content higher than 21% & lower than pure Oxygen at 100%.

SSI breaks down the parameters of its programs into two levels; Level 1 allowing the certified diver to use up to an Oxygen content of 32% & Level 2 where divers can use up to 40% & learn the more advanced planning techniques required for diving with these Oxygen levels.

The more advanced planning for Nitrox takes on the monitoring of both gases, Nitrogen & Oxygen.

Monitoring our exposure to Nitrogen throughout our dives is nothing new to us, we’re taught this during our Open Water Diver training, it’s our No Decompression Limits (NDL’s), now with using higher percentages of Oxygen in our breathing mix we must monitor this gas too as, believe it or not, you can have too much Oxygen!

Over exposure to high partial pressure of O2 increases our risks of Oxygen Toxicity, symptoms of which can range from nausea to convulsions underwater. So watch your clock!

Of course as with all things within the diving world, we dive conservatively within a conservative framework. Limiting our partial pressure to 1.4 to 1.6 (or a surface equivalent of 140%) is conservative, while working in a recompression chamber, patients are regularly started on a treatment table which exposes them to much higher partial pressure of Oxygen but that is a much more controlled environment than the ocean.

With proper usage & correct clock watching, Nitrox truly is “the gas f the future” & increases NDL’s repetitive dive times, decreases surface interval times & most importantly, it’s safe.

So start clock watching today!

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Shore Thing

September 7th, 2013

NeptuneIn ancient Rome the priests of the day would tell tales of the God of the sea, Neptune; the bringer of the tides & all his might. But what about the poor old man in the moon?

I’ve written previously on the tides & the moon before for the Go Pro SSI website but I think it’s worth bringing up again but this time to talk about entry & exit techniques.

Whether you’re entering the water from a boat, dock or shore you should always choose “the safest & easiest” option. But what is the safest & easiest option from the shore?

The answer is, it depends! Some things have so many variables that they have to been shown over & over again in every different environmental condition & entry & exits from the shore are one of those things.

Always take an orientation to local diving from an experienced professional in that area, & never think that the techniques shown to you during your Open Water Diver course were correct for every situation. They never will be & addition training & experience can only be effectively given by dive professionals proficient at diving in their local environment, whether the sun is shining or Mr. Moon is out to play!

Today of course, we know the supposedly well intentioned Romans were doing a bit of fibbing really & it’s our friend the moon who’s primarily responsible for bringing us the tides, whether you still believe there’s a man up their or it’s made out of cheese in entirely up to you though!


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ConEd for ProsAll dive professionals understand the importance of continuing education for recreational divers, but once many Go Pro, many stop there.

Continuing education; or Con-Ed (love my Abbrvs. as you know!) & even training diversity can have many benefits to new dive professionals, from newly minted Divemasters & experienced Instructors above & beyond even my level:


  • Career Development – Within the context of every industry, when looking for advancement, every job becomes a career & diving is no different. When potential employers within the diving industry look for new staff or see a new Resume pass over the front desk, they look for certain information. Can they instruct? Can they teach Deep or Nitrox Specialties? Can the candidates fix equipment or blend mixed gases? Continuing education opportunities such as the ITC, AWOI Internships & XR programs can definitely help with the progression in your career goals.


  • Renewed Enthusiasm – Every Instructor that has worked in the industry for an extended period can face burnout; teaching the same programs day in, day out. Looking in to opportunities to teach new Specialty programs can alleviate the repetition of certain courses while still allowing for every Instructor to partake in their first love, teaching diving.


  • New Interests – Another way of renewing your enthusiasm for teaching is to look into training diversity options. Alternative diving opportunities are becoming more & more available in many locations. Freediving, Extended Range & even a new take on the Night & Limited Vis dives with U/V diving are great ways to refresh your love of diving & learn new things about familiar subjects too. They may even lead to new career opportunities too; I know they did for me.


  • Location Changes – One very valid reason for partaking in Con-Ed as a Dive Pro is a change in your teaching arena: Are you in a tropical location & heading to colder climates? Time to do your Dry Suit Spec. Have you cut your teeth in the world of diving in fresh water lakes & now have the chance to move to The Maldives? Take the time to learn all about Waves, Tides & Currents; you may be teaching the Spec. when you get there!


There are many other reasons I’m sure you can think of to commit to Con-Ed programs, these are just a few intended to get you thinking.


Continuing your education can also include non-diving programs & skills as diverse as learning a new language, taking MOOC’s or learning about social media marketing. The great thing about diving for me is that I never stop learning; I hope it’s the same for you too.


So, “how’s your Con-Ed?”

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danger-response-and-airway-breathingDuring the Respond Right & Respond Right Instructor programs the initial approach & evaluation of any scene requires an assessment, looking for potential hazards & how to respond to them.

This scene assessment is described on the Respond Right evaluation criteria with the abbreviation DRS: Dangers, Response, SEND FOR HELP!

Danger/Response can of course pertain to the physical dangers facing a patient, e.g. serious bleeding is a very urgent danger & the correct response is of course to apply direct pressure to help stop it. It also relates to the environmental factors involved in any efforts to attempt first aid &/or a rescue & the judgement call that has to be made of, can I remove the danger from the victim or do I have to remove the victim from the danger?

In this episode of the GPS bloagapalooza I’d like to cover some of the reasons you may consider moving a victim before giving first aid in extreme emergency.

FIRE – In instances of fire, as with most extreme dangers, the rescuers safety must take precedence & the question must be asked: Can I manage this fire with the previsions available to me or must I attempt to remove the victim form the fire zone?

FLOOD – When looking at water as a potential danger, other aspect of the scenario should be taken into account; is the water acting as a conductor for an electrical source, creating another potential F, FUSE. Is the victim in danger of slipping from a river bed? Or the scenario most pertinent to use as divers during the Diver Stress & Rescue program; is the victim in the water? We can remove the victim or other potential dangers with the scenario for conduction, remove the victim or secure the area surrounding them at the river side, but we only really have one option when dealing with the scenario of being in the water, the victim has to moved, as we quiet clearly can’t remove an ocean!

FALLING – Just as with the river bad example, falling from a ledge is an immediate danger to the rescuer & victim, as is the risk of falling object on both parties. A full check of the scene is imperative to whether the choice is made, to treat or to move.

FACEDOWN – The treatment of a conscious, breathing victim when facedown can be a relatively simple decision of whether to move them or not: do you suspect spinal injuries & can any injury be treated in that position? If yes to either of those question, treat in position found.  If the victim is discovered facedown, unconscious & not breathing, the game changes. I have to be able to gain an airway & may have the possibility of having to begin resuscitation, neither of which can be successfully achieved while the victim is facedown. It’s time to roll the victim & the more people I can get to assist in this, the better.

There are of course no black & white answers when it comes to providing care; each of the above scenarios could have five answers for each variable added.

These are of course just four F’s that can be applied but whatever additional F’s can be added, the principles remain the same.

Can you think of any more F’s for the DRS?

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DecimalsBack to the SoD this episode boys & girls, in this edition of the GPS Uber-blog we’ll be having a quick peek at Deep-Diving’s-Delectable-Dandy: Dalton.

Dalton’s Law of partial pressure states: In a mixture of gases, the total pressure of the mixture equals the sum of the partial pressures of the individual gases.

Dalton’s Law is almost always stated in decimals; maybe because our feeble minds can’t quite figure out the surface equivalents in percentages. Or are they?

“That’s Partial Pressures Baby!”

The maximum partial pressure of Oxygen when diving on Enriched Air Nitrox for recreational divers is set at 1.4 PO2, which when converted into a percentage, makes a surface equivalent of 140% Oxygen.

140%!!!! That makes no sense; we can’t have 140% of anything (except maybe a pay rise. Hint, hint!) But that the law of partial pressures baby!

Working out the surface equivalent of a gas becomes especially important when looking into contamination of a breathing mixture. When even a small amount of a gas; such a Carbon Monoxide which is harmful to us at the surface can be deadly under pressure.

A Scuba cylinder with 1% contamination of Carbon Monoxide has a PCO (partial pressure of Carbon Monoxide) at sea level of 0.1PCO. If a diver descends with this tank on his back, the PCO will increase in relation to the depth & pressure.

When the diver hits 40 metres of sea water, they will be exposed to 5 atmospheres of pressure. The breathing mixture on their back will still contain 1% CO but have the partial pressure of 0.5PCO & the equivalent of breathing 5% Carbon Monoxide at the surface.

Of course avoiding breathing mix contamination can be easily achieved by having suitably located in-takes & properly serviced compressors, which all reputable dive centres have.

So back to studying for you my little Divemaster trainees & I’ll see you at the next SoD presentation.

Are you Go-in’ Pro-in’ yet?

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OxygenAs with many things in this life, the law of the sod or Murphy’s Law; what can go wrong will go wrong, applies to even diving.

When planning out dive trips, local or further afield, an imperative aspect of that planning should be the question, “how much Oxygen does the vessel need for this trip?”

The text book answer is the beautifully ambiguous “enough for the worst case scenario”. Thanks, I suppose it could have been worse, it could have said “it depends.”

So here we are at GPS again to save the day like Mighty Mouse, except less rodenty, to break down some numbers for y’all!

Let’s look at some of the variables that can affect each scenario, regardless of what’s happening on the boat:

  • Distance between dive location & point of handover; if the drive time from dive location to handover point to EMS is 1 hour, is that under steam or does it include dropping the line and brining the boat to port is that another 20 minutes plus?
  • Who’s still underwater? Are you in shallow waters or have Open Water Divers still under for whom an emergency recall can be executed in minimal time or are Deep Divers or Technical divers under, still at depth or completing decompression requirements. How long will an emergency recall be for them & will it exacerbate the situation?
  • How long will the handover to EMS take? Is the nearest land port the best for EMS to receive anyone & will there be a delay?
  • What diving activities are taking place on the boat & how many people are aboard the vessel? The more advanced the activity & the number of participants, the higher its associated risks.
  • Have you accounted for contingency? Remember, what can go wrong will. A turn in the weather adding boat travel time for example.


Now we have some time based factors, let’s look at our supply/demand figures. To make this easier to understand we’ll look at some examples, see if you can work them out for yourselves.

Example 1:

A single diver on the “good” mask; the non-resuscitation demand valve mask, using approximately 10 L/min is on a dive site located 30 minutes from the shore with a maximum depth of 12 metres, EMS has been alerted & is 1 hour away & a team of divers is still underwater. How much O2 is required?

Got an answer? Let’s do the math.

  • Approximately 30 minutes travel time from dive location. 30 minutes x 10 L/min = 300 litres of O2 required.
  • Approximately 15 minutes to recall dive team & return them securely to the dive boat. 15 minutes x 10 L/min = 150 litres of O2 required.
  • Approximately 15 minutes from reaching handover point until arrival of EMS. 15 minutes x 10 L/min = 150 litres of O2 required.
  • Total approximate time (60 minutes) & Oxygen requirements (600 litres) plus 20% contingency means we really need closer a 720 litres of O2 for this patient.


Example 2:

Two divers return from a dive, one loses consciousness & the other with breathing difficulty & cannot tolerate the demand system, meaning both are on the “bad” masks; the continuous flow system, meaning they are consuming a minimum of 15 L/min each. There are divers in the water that have 10 minutes Decompression requirements & no other vessels are in the area. The boat is located 2 hours from the handover point which EMS is 30 minutes away from & has already been contacted. How much Oxygen is enough?

Let’s run the numbers again;

  • Approximately 2 hours travel time with 2 divers consuming a total of 30 L/min of O2. 120 minutes x 30 L/min = 3,600 litres of O2 required.
  • Approximately 25 minutes to recall dive team & return them securely to the dive boat. 25 minutes x 30 L/min = 750 litres of O2 required.
  • Total approximate time (145 minutes) & Oxygen requirements (4,350 litres) plus 20% means closer to 5,220 litres of O2 for this example.


So now you can see the difference between having Oxygen on your vessels & looking into supplying the correct amount for “…the worst case scenario” based on the above parameters, you’ll be able to answer the question before every dive expedition, “how much Oxygen is enough?”

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April 2nd, 2013

MultilingualIf you’re like me, speaking twelve different versions of English never really counts as being multilingual & languages can be a hot topic in the world of diving.

Adopting the technique of expanding your credentials in diving is one way that can really help you stand out from the crowd, & an excellent way to refresh your career.

If you’re stuck in the rut of being one of many certified instructors looking to open up new horizons, the SSI Instructor Crossover Course is an exceptional way of breaking new ground. This orientation to the SSI History & Philosophy, teaching system & water workshops truly gives the course the feel of a whole new language in just a few days, & can capable of reinvigorating & re-energising any dive leaders calling.

The Go Pro SSI includes workshops on Con-Ed & equipment counselling, Specialty training combo’s & entry level scheduling & the Science of Diving specialty in an all inclusive program, designed to facilitate a leap forward in training & livelihood of each successful graduate & newly minted SSI Instructor.

So just remember, the futures bright, the future’s pink so Go Pro SSI today.


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It’s April, Fool

March 21st, 2013

April foolFrom the 1st of April 2013, SSI will launch its new global standards. Changing the way the entire organisation works together.

Among the changes made to the new standards & programs being launched around the world is the way we conduct our Instructor Evaluations, or IE.

Updating the our previous entry “What To Expect When You’re Expecting..”  to reflect what Dive Control Specialist around the world are preparing for during their ITC’s, this post will look at the new format of the IE.

Still in keeping with the SSI philosophy that the IE is your audition for Instructorship, the evaluation will still have the schedule of actual Scuba programming of Academic, Pool & Open Water presentations, only now Diver Stress & Rescue enters the mix!

Two Academic presentations will now be required, one from entry level training & another from continuing education programming, the pool will have all the same elements, again with the inclusion of Diver Stress & Rescue skills. Open Water presentations will still be based in realistic circumstances & culminating with the simulated rescues & demonstration of Oxygen administration that have always set SSI leagues apart with its Instructor evaluations.

April the 1st may be a highly suspicious time of year to launch the new global standards but I pity the fool who doesn’t Go Pro SSI in 2013.


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While working as a Dive Medic Technician I was called upon to administer Oxygen in both diving & non-diving incidents.

Now I’m teaching Oxygen Administration as part of the SSI Respond Right Programs to recreational diver wishing to complete the SSI Diver Stress & Rescue Program or Professional candidates aiming for higher ground by completing the SSI Respond Right; Apply Advanced First Aid Instructor Program, I wanted to find an easier way for every candidate at every level to remember which oxygen mask should be used in every scenario they may find themselves in.

Simplifying the technical terms like “Non-Resuscitator Demand Valve “ makes things more practical & increases retention of knowledge for the one time you may need it.

The Good. If a diver arrives back on the boat & is showing signs &/or symptoms of any illness or injury related to the breathing of a compressed gas, take stock of the situation. Is the diver conscious? Are they alert? Can they tolerate a demand system much like your regulator? If so, I consider this situation good & I will head straight for the Non-Resuscitator Demand Valve, giving the highest concentration of Oxygen & helping you manage your reserve of oxygen most effectively.

The Bad. If our friend above starts to find it too difficult to breathe from, or tolerate the “Good” mask. Or is losing consciousness & becoming unresponsive our situation has started to deteriorate & the use of a Non-Rebreather Mask, sometimes referred to as the Continuous Flow System, has become necessary. This is our Bad Mask, delivering a lower concentration of Oxygen to our patient & causing us to use our reserve much quicker as the free-flow metre is initially set at 15 litres/minute.

The Ugly. Further deterioration in our imaginary beleaguered diver may come from the result of their mask no longer fogging. This is a signal for any responder to commence with their look, listen, feel. A lack of response from this check will confirm our situation has turned “Ugly”. Switching to a Resuscitation Mask with supplemental Oxygen confirms our priorities have changed. It’s true, our reserve will deplete very quickly & the percentage of Oxygen reaching the patient has been significantly reduced but priority has changed to the resuscitation efforts demanded by our situation.

Oxygen administration is an essential skill for all divers & is a requirement for all SSI Professional programs from SSI Dive Guide to all SSI Instructor ratings; certification can be gained through SSI’s Respond Right first aid & professional programs. Oxygen administration for diving accidents should be considered as an essential skill for all autonomous divers from SSI’s Open Water Diver & beyond, regardless of training & experience.

It is important to remember any sign &/or symptom presented by a diver which was not there prior to any diving activity MUST be treated as diving related illness/injury. Administer 100% Oxygen, monitor the patient’s lifeline & transport to the nearest medical centre/recompression facility.

Are you as prepared as you feel you should be?

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