By Quality Management Consultant Don McFadden
Being a renewed PADI Member means having access to a vast array of benefits in areas such as educational, business, marketing, risk management, product support, live and recorded seminars & webinars, and superior year round support provided by the experience PADI staff located in offices all around the globe.
But what does renewing as a PADI Member mean when looking at it from a risk management perspective?
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, when renewing as a PADI Member there is an agreement which is made. Members agree to abide by the PADI Membership Agreement and License Agreement for PADI Members, and in return PADI authorises the member to act as a PADI Member, receive membership benefits and use PADI training materials for that coming year.
When a member’s membership lapses it means PADI has not documented the member agreeing to the PADI Membership Agreement and License Agreement for PADI Members for that upcoming year, therefore the member is not permitted to act as a PADI Member.
If a PADI Instructor tries to teach a PADI course while non-renewed they run several risks to themselves as well as their students. Throughout the membership year members are updated with the latest training standard changes which are often implemented to increase safety for students. Missing out on these implemented changes can mean you are missing out on critical information which may assist you in reducing the overall risk for students.
So where does the instructor stand if an incident occurs resulting in injury or worse to a student of a non-renewed member? The level of competence of the instructor will always be taken into account, but why risk the chance that something has changed you were unaware of? The question you must ask yourself is “would a prudent dive instructor in the same circumstances have acted in the same way?” If they would answer collectively ‘No’ then you may be failing in your duty as a competent and reasonably prudent instructor.
What happens if the instructor teaching the course is not qualified to conduct the specific PADI training? An example would be an instructor teaching a PADI speciality diving course without the appropriate training. Taking students inside a wreck during a PADI Wreck Diver Specialty dive when you do not hold the Wreck Specialty Instructor rating yourself not reasonable and prudent behaviour. In the event of an incident serious questions would be asked by the authorities and by PADI about the instructor’s competence to undertake the training. So why take the risk? Always work within your limits and never agree to conduct a programme are not qualified to teach.
What about another scenario where a Divemaster or Assistant Instructor teaches Open Water students? Divemaster and Assistant Instructors are, of course, not authorised to teach the PADI Open Water courses nor have they received the necessary training which would prepare them to conduct the course. The roles a certified assistant may take during the Open Water course are outlined in the PADI Instructor Manual on page 53:
3. Instructor conducts and directly supervises all open water dives.
Exceptions — instructor indirect supervision:
• Certified assistants supervising student divers during surface swims to and from the entry-exit point and during navigational exercises, as well as when remaining with the class when the instructor conducts a skill such as an ascent or descent with a student or student team.
• Certified assistants guiding student divers (at a ratio of 2:1) on Dives 2-4 when exploring the dive site.
• Assistant Instructors evaluating dive flexible skills at the surface in open water and conducting air pressure checks underwater.
Acting outside of these limits places the Divemaster or Assistant Instructor in a precarious position. They are acting outside of established standards and if there was to be an incident could find themselves facing serious consequences.
The member would find themselves answering questions from the Quality Management team and face some Quality Management action, possibly punitive. Why risk it? The PADI Instructor Manual is our foundation document and the minimum qualification required to teach each programme and course is clearly defined within it. Make sure before you enter the water you know you are able to conduct the programme.
If you have any questions about these topics consult your PADI Instructor Manual or get in touch with your Regional Training Consultant or Quality Management team. If you ever have any concerns please do not hesitate to get in touch with us firstname.lastname@example.org.