Location: West End, Tortola
Wow! What a start to my time working with ActionQuest. Hard to believe its been 21 days already, but let’s try to explain my whirlwind experience in a few paragraphs……. Diving is my passion, so I delighted to hear that I would be teaching the Rescue program, which is arguably the most challenging of courses for developing divers. However, when I was sat there on my first evening trying to chat to 13 teenagers, all getting to know each other for the first time, I quickly realized that this was a whole new ball game. Fast forward to the last day, and I can honestly say that at 33 years of age this has been on the greatest learning experiences of my life and I was incredibly lucky to have such an awesome group, who worked incredibly hard to become certified rescue divers with a bundle of extra cool certifications. For those who don’t know, the rescue program culminates with what we call rescue scenarios, where the whole group works as a team to deal with a complicated staged situation. To paint a picture, we had two experienced instructors come to the surface and scream for help 30ft of the bow, while the shipmates were finishing their chicken salad lunch. I can assure you the shock on their faces at this point was highly entertaining. Using all their training, the group immediately mobilized and began putting their “Stop, Think, Act” rescue plan into place. As had been previously planned, Allissa and Jackson grasped their leadership roles with both hands and began delegating roles to the group. Avery, Lilah, and Morgan sprung to action and were our first responders and rescue ready, meaning that they donned fins, masks, and snorkels and went to help our panicked instructors. While this was going on, Jake (who had previously taken part in an awesome underwater rescue), started taking important notes and information that could be passed onto emergency services if necessary. While the three rescuers calmed down our panicked divers, they began asking them important questions and soon discovered that they were missing two dive buddies underwater. This mobilized Lydia, Caroline, Jacob, and Chase who all expertly assembled their diving gear with great accuracy and speed, ready to enter the water to search for the missing divers. Due to this group already becoming a fantastic team, they had already sent in Michael and Dan in as a snorkeling team to search for the missing diver bubbles, which they did an awesome job of finding. Lydia and Caroline found our first diver unresponsive and quickly, but safely brought him to the surface. Jacob and Chase found the 2nd and performed the same challenging exercise. Both teams then began checking for breathing and responsiveness. After discovering they were not breathing both teams shouted for emergency services to be called and to get the emergency oxygen ready. They then proceeded to tow their victims to the stern of the catamaran and deliver vital rescue breaths, while efficiently removing their weights and equipment. Meanwhile, on board the vessel Fernando and Michael were using softer psychological techniques to calm down and obtain more vital information from our panicked instructors. Trust me this was an amazing effort, as both instructors were going for Oscar-winning performances. One of the key skills the shipmates have learned is to set up and use emergency oxygen in a variety of different ways. Meriel and Michael expertly set up the oxygen units ready for the unresponsive divers as they were brought aboard. Meriel, Morgan, Allissa, and Dan performed heroic efforts in delivering textbook quality CPR with the help of the oxygen provided for some minutes, while the rest of the team continued to calm down our panicked divers and ensure all equipment was stowed away safely. All the while Jake was taking important factual notes and Jackson and Allissa were overseeing the decision making. This is where we cut the scene, and the gave the shipmates a debriefing on what was a fantastic team effort utilizing all the skills and experiences they had developed over the three weeks. Great work team. As a fairly experienced instructor, it is rare that I am shocked by my students, but I was amazed by how well they performed on the day under pressure. They were a pleasure to teach, and they should all be extremely proud of what they have achieved.