Monday, April 30, 2018

Mental Preparation and self sufficiency Part 2

Georges Gawinowski mixed Gas dive - Marseille 1998
Georges Gawinowski mixed gas dive Marseille 1998
On our last article, we talked about how to increase safety and self-sufficiency for Technical diving. We noticed that lack of self-awareness could be an hidden cause in diving accidents and fatalities. Over 20 years of experience have brought light on the analysis of these issues ; we will discuss today about our responsibilities as divers and trainers to increase self sufficiency.

Awareness and Responsibility
The lack of awareness of the former student now certified diver, in matter of important constraints as part of the act of diving, disables him/her from facing responsibilities, Virtually remaining a student instead of becoming an autonomous diver who hides behind a quasi-ideal image of the training, of the instructor or of the supervision of the dive center. Neither the ones nor the others have the mission to take care of the diver’s obligations. Dive centers are not organized for such task, neither in their facility nor in the structure.
Of course, a large part of the certified divers do not agree. They are convinced they acquired enough independence that allows them to dive (under all circumstances?).They earned such specific certification, with so many dives posted in their logbook (often over evaluated data), with a good technique, an expertise and barely accepting few good advices. This experience would be acceptable if the diver would barely change his/her marks,
because when we dare new adventures under different circumstances (new diving profile, new training, new gear configuration, different diving conditions, etc…) we ought to know that we will go through this experience without being either more autonomous or more able to cope with the adaptation factor. Otherwise, showing our competence at that
specific moment of our diver’s life. Most divers when facing the choice of whether risking a dive or not, do not feel competent when they feel poorly prepared, or in the same time, want to take the risk of doing the dive either frustrated or influenced by others. It is important to notice that uncertain divers are a hazard for the dive buddy. We reach now the subject of risk assessment in which the factor (ratio of individual to circumstances) generates the essence of the risk and the level of what has been assessed as being risky. We have not evaluated the percentage of the population acting under an unconscious risky and hazardous behavior yet. This idea comes from what has been noticed on the field and among a group of reactions, by information from active people either professional divers or not. It seems that a majority of divers is directly concerned at different levels. If we had to simplify a reason of behaving this way we would find it in the innovative realm of this sport (technical evolutions, mentalities) but also from observing individual behaviors in their social environment, modeling their life by the choice or the decisions made.
The choice concerning the environment in diving would be whether to create superstructured- training that would take care of the non-autonomous divers, or to strengthen the already acquired training by leading the diver toward more independence. In a personal opinion, this last option is the reality of diving, it is not only such as we know it but also by its natural spirit of adventure, discoveries, and freedom which the human kind has been seeking for generations. We hardly conceive a reverse transformation in this natural evolution depriving the essence of this sport.

The path to self-sufficiency
We do not want to face this evidence without giving some solutions. For us the two points of education and being self-sufficient have to be taken into consideration. We insist on the fact that technical training is essential more than a simulation; it shows the diver (no longer a « student ») the reality of action in diving. Our educational status of instructor or trainer is here to bring the diver to a real time situation, not to « hold his/her hand » anymore. This training is built around the diving preparation and of course deals with the questions of stress management, risk assessment, awareness from which little by little grows the diver’s inner independence. Here, no miracle pill, no virtual image, no illusion, the diver faces with him/herself aware of his/her motivations and limits. Such techniques are calling for mental preparation especially when the need of making a decision comes about to help erase or reduce the gaps between “what we think it is”, and « what it is in fact ». We have paid a particular attention to this point that appears to be essential in the diver’s future direction whether in recreational or technical diving. These transition periods require a good perception of many factors depending on a whole of qualities to which we call on when training for diving. It is indeed important to be wary of projections and images that could prevent from learning the characteristic of technical diving, and from gauging the constraints and capabilities factors.

To a new education?
To be in favor of the « cutting loose» of their students is not a new mission for the instructors. It has always been one of the major goals of teaching. It is necessary to show how risky the practice of diving is. Notably leading the student to be independent trained with an improved good technique, and with the ability to gauge and decide in a performing way in order to easily and securely deal with his/her dives. It takes a long time to become autonomous; it is more a step based on practice than on theory. Only experienced and vigilant behavior will help reach this goal. When initiated from the first levels of training this evolution toward more independence will be durable, instead of fading after a while, as it has been noticed among some « poorly trained » divers. Our goal is to integrate all the tools available within technical diver education to ease the development of autonomous behavior.  Georges Gawinowski  and peers have been working on this behavior for years to find the best responses to increase self sufficiency and to encourage divers to log safe dives, and to practice emergency skills between certification levels. That is especially recommended for Expedition Trimix as students are only admitted to start this course once they completed the Essentials Diver, the CCR Trimix diver, with a minimum of 100 Trimix and mixed gas dives. Also, it is important to keep strong communication with the Instructor before the expedition. As during the three months time of preparation we will evaluate the progress of the candidate through conversation, questions, and Technical dives if possible that will get the student ready for such a challenging course.

Note: Trailer of Expedition Trimix By Lake Mead Technical divers 2014
©Georges Gawinowski, 2018 –
IANTD SE Training Director
NSS/CDS #369