PADI Awards Medal of Valor to Thailand Cave Rescuers Who Represent Diving’s Finest Hour

Leadership and rescue divers instrumental in the rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand earlier this year will be the first-ever recipients of PADI’s Medal of Valor. This high distinction will be awarded to Rick Stanton, John Volanthen, Dr. Richard Harris, Dr. Craig Challen, Jason Mallinson, Chris Jewell and Jim Warny. The courage, strength, honor and dignity displayed during the rescue operation propelled the PADI organization to create the medal to formally recognize their contributions to one of diving’s greatest moments in history. Rick Stanton and Jason Mallinson will represent this distinguished group and accept the PADI Medal of Valor at the PADI® Social on 13 November during DEMA Show 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.

Medal-Medal of Valor- Diving

In June and July 2018, the world watched as top cave divers and other experts from around the globe converged in Thailand to find and save the “Wild Boars” soccer team, which had become trapped deep inside the Tham Luang cave system. For 18 days, the international effort involved more than 1,000 men and women, who combined their collective talents for the extraordinary recovery of the team.

“It was an awe-inspiring example of humanity at its best, focused on a single noble purpose,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “This complex rescue operation demonstrated action and focus propelled by the unshakeable conviction that those boys would not die on diving’s watch. Rick Stanton, Jason Mallinson and everyone who was part of this effort faced and accepted the difficulties, dangers and risks inherent in the rescue. On behalf of the entire PADI family, it is an honor to recognize these heroes and extend our immense gratitude for representing diving’s finest hour.”


Rick Stanton and John Volanthen were a driving force in the Thai cave rescue operation. The pair was the first to discover the soccer team, which had been trapped in the flooded cave for nine days at the time they were found. Together, with Mallinson and Jewell, the divers led the dive rescue and carried the boys out of the cave to safety. Both Stanton and Volanthen are regarded as two of Britain’s foremost cave divers, with more than 35 years’ experience in extreme cave dives and rescues, having led a number of high-profile rescue attempts in the past.

stanton.volanthen-cave-divers-thailand

Dr. Richard “Harry” Harris played a critical role in the rescue, administering sedatives to the boys to facilitate their extraction under extreme and complex conditions. Working in anesthesia and aeromedical retrieval medicine in Adelaide, South Australia, Harris has expertise in cave diving, wilderness medicine and remote area health. Dr. Craig Challen, an Australian cave explorer, early adopter of closed-circuit mixed-gas rebreathers and avid wreck diver, dived alongside Harris facilitating the successful execution of the rescue.

harris-challen- cave-divers

Jason Mallinson and Chris Jewell were integral to the mission, taking food to the those trapped and working alongside Stanton and Volanthen to carry the boys out through the flooded sections of cave. Mallinson is an exploration and rescue cave diver with 30 years in the field. His achievements have led him to set distance and depth records in caves all over the world. He has assisted in multiple rescues and is a member of the United Kingdom’s international cave-dive rescue team. Jewell is a UK-based exploratory cave diver with more than 12 years’ experience leading cave diving. Belgian cave diver Jim Warny, who currently resides in Ireland, was instrumental in the coach’s extraction.

Jasonmallinson-chrisjewell-jimwarny

“Their daring mission is a wonderful opportunity to show the world what the diving community is made of, and what can be accomplished through a combination of proper training, trust, courage, passion and perseverance,” says Richardson.

Industry stakeholders and PADI Members are invited to stand together to thank these heroic divers. Join PADI in honoring these men at the PADI Social on Tuesday, 13 November 2018, from 6:00-8:00 pm at the Westgate Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.

All are invited for a special meet and greet with Rick Stanton and Jason Mallinson at the DEMA Show in the PADI booth (booth 1524) on Wednesday, 14 November from 5:00-6:00 pm. Please join PADI in celebrating these heroes and thanking them for their courage and honor.

A Force for Good: The Researchers

Everyone knows that global environments in general, and the oceans in particular, are threatened. Climate change, coral bleaching, over fishing, runaway plastics – it’s a long list and every day, another study makes the list longer and more daunting. It may seem like everyone’s jumping on the bad news bandwagon, but I look at these reports in a positive, enabling way: the future we don’t want must be predicted to avoid it.

healthy-coral-reef-manta-ray

So, besides studying current issues, marine and environmental researchers show us problems before they arise. For example, in August marine scientists Wortman, Paytan and Yao (University of Toronto and University of California, Santa Cruz) released a study that suggests that, beyond warming, elevated atmospheric CO2 would reduce oceanic oxygen, making the deeper depths toxic and significantly damage fisheries through it effect on the food web. Yes, that’s bad news, but thanks to these researchers we know now, while we still have time to do something about it.

And, this leads to the second reason researchers are a crucial force for good. It’s about predicting problems, but also finding the solutions andsharing them. In a previous blog, I mentioned Dr. Vaughan’s breakthrough in coral restoration – shared research that directly addresses a massive global challenge that’s close to the heart of all divers. In Cuba’s Guanahacabibes National Marine Park, biologist Dr. Dorka Cobián Rojas teams with global scientists and “citizen scientist” divers to research causes and implement solutions to coral loss and the invasive lionfish. There also, Dr. Osmani Borrego similarly researches plastic pollution. These are critical research efforts because Guanahacabibes’ reefs are healthy, making them a biological resource oasis needed to find the problems and solutions we need to protect, preserve and restore the world’s reefs and fisheries.

healthy-coral-reef

Let’s not overlook “citizen scientist” involvement, because it is vital. Professional full-time researchers like Rojás and Borrego do not have the time or resources to gather all the data and trial the solutions. Solving massive, world-scale problems calls for massive, world-scale participation – in the ocean, that means you and me. As Project AWARE likes to say, don’t let your dives go to waste. Every dive we make can contribute to research. Dive Against Debris, for example, isn’t simply about picking up litter underwater or pointing fingers – it’s part of finding out how we can stop it.

Another effort is Reef Life Survey, founded by Dr. Graham Edgar, which trains volunteer divers to survey marine organisms. More than 200 RLS divers have already surveyed more than 2,000 sites in 44 countries, creating one of the largest global biological databases in existence. Using these data, researchers expect a shift in fish and invertebrate distribution as the oceans warm – a conclusion only possible thanks to these citizen scientist divers.  India.mongbay.com reports that in India, scientists train fishermen and other volunteers to dive (if they’re not already divers) as citizen scientists for involvement in multiple initiatives, and it has another benefit – public support. “The research also gets community buy-in when their people are involved,” the report quotes University of Kerala’s aquatic biology department head A. Biju Kuma. Go online and you can find literally dozens of ways scientists embrace divers like you and me in researching the solutions to environmental threats.

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There’s a lot to do, so let’s make every dive count. Join Dive Against Debris if you haven’t already, and/or any other citizen scientist effort. We can be researchers while still making images, exploring or doing everything else we love about diving. And, let’s be restorers who use what we’re learning to rebuild, revitalize and recreate a healthy global environment. Let’s be reachers and teachers who use diving to spread what we’re learning and doing, and pass it to the next generations.

Regardless of what today’s trends are, the future is not inevitable. With 25 million PADI Professionals and Divers helping lead the way, and with a new generation of divers to come, we’re already changing course to a different tomorrow with a thriving, healthy global environment. When it comes to gazing into the crystal ball, I like what author-educator Peter Drucker said:

“The best way to predict the future
is to create it.”

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

 

Training Tips for PADI Specialties of the Quarter

Wreck- Diving- Wreck Diving- Shipwreck

Written by PADI Regional Training Consultant, Brigit Jager

With the summer high season at our doorstep throughout Oceania, it’s not hard to make the most of the current quarter’s PADI Specialties. With these two PADI Specialties on offer, you have the flexibility to promote whichever specialty best suits your dive shop or local area.

PADI Wreck Diver

There are many amazing wrecks in the region that make it rather easy for you to offer this specialty – be it in your immediate local area, or as an exciting dive travel opportunity for your customers. To name just a few famous ones:

In Australia: ex-HMAS Swan (W.A.), ex-HMAS Hobart (S.A.), ex-HMAS Canberra (VIC), ex-HMAS Adelaide (NSW), ex-HMAS Brisbane, SS Yongala and soon also ex-HMAS Tobruk (QLD).

In New Zealand: Rainbow Warrior and HMNZS Canterbury (North Island).

In the rest of Oceania: SS President Coolidge (Vanuatu) and numerous WWII wrecks (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and many more).

Wreck- Diving- Wreck Diving- Shipwreck

PADI Digital Underwater Photographer

We all know that every diver wants to show what they’ve seen underwater, so why not teach them how easy it is to take more than just an average snap shot picture? After completing this specialty course, your students will go home and proudly share their awesome digital underwater images to all family & friends (and on social media) – which in turn no doubt brings more business into your dive shop.

We’re so lucky that Oceania offers a wide range of exceptional marine environments that many divers can’t wait to see and take pictures of. So this is yet another PADI Specialty that helps you make the most of your local area this summer high season, or on that special dive trip. The following are just some examples of the outstanding opportunities Oceania has to offer for underwater photography students:

In Australia: leafy seadragons (S.A.), nudibranchs (VIC), weedy seadragons (NSW), coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef (QLD, during full moon this November).

In New Zealand: Poor Knight Islands (North Island) and Milford Sound (South Island – exceptional clear waters, 7 gill sharks, to name a few attractions).

In Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Island Countries: coral reefs teeming with life, reef and oceanic sharks, dolphins … (from Fiji all the way to French Polynesia).

It’s impossible to name all marine animals – However, my point is: are you making the most of all of these fantastic opportunities in your area?

Underwater Photography- Photography

PADI Asia Pacific is already promoting the PADI Specialties of the Quarter to consumers around the world. To help you promote these courses in your own dive shops, you can download the easy-to-adopt free digital marketing materials, available in English, Korean, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. The toolkit includes PADI Specialty of the Quarter web banners, headers and more.

Here are 3 easy steps to get you started:

  1. Download marketing toolkit
  2. Advertise online and in store
  3. Bundle/Link PADI specialties with other PADI core courses

What next? Be ready for students who are interested in the PADI Wreck Diver and PADI Digital Underwater Photographer specialty courses and place your orders for required student materials online or contact your PADI Regional Training Consultant – they’re available to take your orders, answer questions or offer guidance.

The South Pacific – Incredible Destinations for your Group Dive Travels

Written by PADI Regional Manager, Hans Ullrich.

How many of your students (and even yourself) have dreamed about taking a dive trip to The South Pacific?

For PADI Members living in Australia or New Zealand, these islands are actually closer than you might think! Some of these islands are only a 2.5 hour flight from Brisbane or Sydney and offer fantastic diving for all levels of divers. Other islands are a little further but are definitely worth the extra travel time. Let’s go on a little tour of the South Pacific so we can show you why you should plan your next group trip here.

Boat- Scuba Diver- Ocean

Our first stop is Tonga, notoriously known as the destination where you can go swimming with whales. Every year from July to October humpback whales start their migration, from the cold Antarctic waters to the warmer waters of Tonga, to give birth to their calves. Tonga also offers some amazing diving spots worth exploring.

You won’t want to miss out on wreck diving in the Solomon Islands. Yes Truk Lagoon is famous for its incredible wreck diving, but don’t forget about the Solomon Islands. Just a 3 hour flight from Brisbane will get you to the location of where the WWII battle of Guadalcanal took place. Here you will also be able to visit the Iron Bottom Sound wreck, which includes 200 odd ships and around 690 aircrafts that lie within it. Many of these wrecks are too deep for recreational diving. However, the Solomon Islands also offer some of the world’s best and most spectacular wreck sites that are at suitable for recreational diving depths.

Have you heard about the Cook Islands? Voted as having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and that’s not even including the fantastic diving! With 15 Cook Islands,  a total of 240 Square meters, spread out over 2,200.000 square kilometres of ocean, the island numbers speak volumes. If you’re convinced that there is some good diving here, then you’re right!

Cook Islands- Beach- Tropical

Next are the beautiful reefs of Vanuatu, such as Million Dollar Point, the Cathedral, Hideaway Island, Mele Reef and of course the Coolidge. The Coolidge reef is one of the best known wreck dives in the world. Only a 2.5 hour flight from Brisbane to Santo, you won’t want to miss out on visiting this wreck site!

What about Samoa? Well Samoa, also known as the heart of Polynesia, offers diving to both novice and experienced divers. Rich in marine life, the surrounding reefs include around 900 species of fish to look out for. Not only does Samoa have great diving, but it also has plenty of topside beauty to offer.

Samoa Island- Beach- Tropical

Our next stop brings us to New Caledonia. New Caledonia has the world’s second largest coral reef stretching to 1,600 kilometres around the mainland forming the world’s largest lagoon. Smaller islands surround the reef including Loyalty Islands and the Isle of Pines. This French colony has much to offer with European cuisine and shopping combined with the beauty and culture of the South Pacific. The diving and snorkelling here is also are spectacular. Some must-dive sites to add to your travel list include Bay of Prony, Tenia, the Town of Hienghene and the Isle of Pines.

Our final destination is the French Polynesia or Tahiti, as is it mostly known by. The island of Tahiti is the capital of the French Polynesia. Tahiti offers some great diving, but there are many other islands that are simply fantastic for diving and snorkelling. These islands include Rangiroa, Fakarava, Bora Bora, Tikehau and Moorea. Consider this- from the 118 islands in French Polynesia, only 11 have PADI Dive Centers on them!

French Polynesia- Bora Bora- Beach- Tropical

So, after our tour of the South Pacific, I hope you have a better idea what is out there and how close some of these places actually are. Consider taking your next group dive trip to the South Pacific and explore some fantastic places. For more information please visit https://padi.travel.com or contact your PADI Regional Manager.

November Tips from the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Team

Each month the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from Quality Management Consultant  Rebecca Wastall.

The Environment & Risk Management 

“We are blessed with a career that puts us in contact with the ocean – and the ocean demands our respect. Treat her with respect and she will give you a lifetime of adventures, but underestimate her at your peril. Remember: be prudent in your decision making, put your students’ safety above your ego and – if in doubt – stay out.”- Richard Somerset, PADI.

Many of us entered careers as PADI Dive professionals because we love the ocean and its inhabitants.

The famous Jacques Cousteau once said…….

“The sea once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever”

It is true, which is why with the support of Project AWARE we strive to maintain this environment, but do we give it the respect it deserves from a risk management perspective?

The environments people dive in vary all over the world. A diver trained in one environment may not be comfortable in another until they have had some experience and learned the techniques specific to that environment. A diver that is confident in warm clear waters may need extra assistance to adapt to a cold water environment with poor visibility. How many of us check our diver’s history, even if they are simply on a guided dive? Do we ask to see our customers log books? Are we asking the right questions to determine the risks our divers might have. Do we identify who may be susceptible to the risks that are present?

We should consider all of these factors every time we dive. Take a few minutes to mentally review the environment on each diving day and applying that to our customers training and experience levels. Ways we can evaluate the match of student ability to environment include environmental checks (looking or even getting in the water to check on current and visibility), and checking student qualifications and logbooks. The fact is every day is different. Don’t get complacent with the environment assuming it will be the same every time we dive. Set the example for others and consider the risks, pass that message on and create a culture of safety.

Financial pressures of running a dive centre combined with the changing environmental conditions we face mean you could be risking a bad dive to pay the bills. Do you at times feel forced to put finances first? The knock on effect maybe you get a bad review or a complaint but ultimately you need to ask are you risking customer’s safety.

Sometimes we hear of cases of concerned divers and instructors who feel they have been forced to dive in poor environmental conditions or make a poor judgement call which has led to an incident. So who takes responsibility for calling a dive off? Who determines if the dive site is suitable for a diver? Ultimately if an incident occurs the liability is likely to rest with the individual member who was supervising the dive. You would not be able to say “but my boss told me it would be fine”. With our training comes the responsibility to make good judgements. We know the risks – now make the call.

While uncommon there is potential risk to divers from interactions with marine organisms. The most common of these is when a diver brushes up against or lands on a marine invertebrate through poor buoyancy control techniques. We should provide thorough briefings describing what aquatic animals divers come across and ensure they know not to touch organisms, to be careful in the sand and not to sit on the coral. This may seem obvious to many of us but there have been situations where instructors are missing this important part of their briefings. So what is the best solution? Again think about the level of risk. Being gentle with the approach, informing your students about the wildlife in the area is an important part of your briefing. So instead of telling someone ‘the titan triggerfish will attack you’, say ‘this is a fish we respect when nesting and give him the distance he needs to protect his young’. Instead of saying ‘don’t kneel in the sand as you may find yourself with a barb in your knee’, say ‘look closely when in the sand as delicate creatures live there and we want to maintain their habitat’. Don’t shy away from the risks but address them carefully and appropriately to the level of risk they pose. This way you are educating about marine life as well as helping divers to minimise the risks.

Let’s work together with our customers to preserve and enjoy the aquatic environment – after all it is a privilege to be able to explore its depths.

Rebecca Wastall | Quality Management Consultant, PADI Asia Pacific.

Email: qa@padi.com.au

PADI Instructor Examinations for October 2018

2/10/2018 | Gili Islands, Indonesia


3/10/2018 | El Nido, Philippines

3/10/2018 | Whitianga, New Zealand


5/10/2018 | Gangneung, South Korea


6/10/2018 | Dumaguete, Philippines


6/10/2018 | Northland, New Zealand


8/10/2018 | Huludao, China

9/10/2018 | Malapascua, Philippines


13/10/2018 | Cairns, Australia


13/10/2018 | Phuket, Thailand


13/10/2018 | Nanning, China


16/10/2018 | Gold Coast, Australia


16/10/2018 | Koh Tao, Thailand


20/10/2018 | Sanya, China


20/10/2018 | Singapore


22/10/2018 | Coron, Philippines

27/10/2018 | Tioman Island, Malaysia


27/10/2018 | Hong Kong

Save On Your 2019 PADI Membership with Auto Renewal

We appreciate you choosing PADI as your diver training organisation throughout 2018 and the hard work you’ve done maintaining your PADI Professional Membership.

2019 PADI Professional Membership Renewal starts this month and below is an easy way to save the most on your PADI Membership.

The best option with the lowest renewal rate is to make sure you are signed up for Automatic Membership Renewal on the PADI Pros’ Site before the 15th November 2018.

You can find this feature on the My Account page or by clicking the button located on the homepage. If you are already enrolled, log on and make sure your credit card information including expiry date is still current. You should have received an email if you are currently not signed up or your credit card details have expired.

There will also be other options later this year for PADI Professional Membership Renewal including Online Membership Renewal as well as the traditional Paper Membership Renewal however to save time and money consider signing up for Automatic Membership Renewal today.

Visit the PADI Pros’ Site to sign up for Automatic Membership Renewal.