The duty and life of a Dive Guide can be
very rewarding and enjoyable, but can also be very challenging when your fellow divers decide to blame you for their failings and their bad diver habits. Keeping divers safe is not the proper role of a dive guide, nor is it to keep dive tour participants safe…This is sadly not always recognised by certified divers who are actually responsible for themselves.
If you talk to some divers about using a dive guide on holiday, they often respond by saying “Oh, I just follow the guide”, or “ I don’t know where we went, we just tagged along and the guide takes care of us”. As a certified diver you become qualified to dive independently, although you maybe a novice, with little experience it is still your duty to make sure the basic rules are followed and you and your buddy is aware of your own capabilities.
What is your role as a diver?
First and foremost it is your responsibility to make sure you are fit to dive, your equipment has been serviced and is in full working order. As a diver, you keep yourself hydrated with water before and post dive. You and your buddy know your limits and dive accordingly. You should listen carefully to the dive briefing, ask questions if things are not clear or not understood.
You must be able to access your own fitness and capabilities, along with your buddy. As a certified diver, you should be able to plan and conduct your own dives together with a buddy, in conditions within the limits of your certification. Your safety underwater is ultimately your own responsibility, along with completing a buddy check, dive equipment functionality, even if you rented it out! Any malfunctioning equipment should not be used and reported to the dive guide, rented equipment should be double checked and all gear should be assembled correctly. Although your dive guide is there to advise and pass on any risk factors to you, it is your decision to decide if the conditions are right for you and you feel fit to ‘dive the dive’. When a dive guide recommends the max. Depth of the dive there are no rules saying the guide must enforce this, nor does it state that the guide is there to keep you safe as a diver. A certified diver and his buddy can dive deeper or shallower than the guided group, they may abort the dive if they wish, or if problems occur, example; currents where they are not comfortable, they can choose to end the dive.
The role of the dive guide
The dive guide is not there to make sure you survive the dive, although he or she would definitely help, along with other divers if an emergency situation occurred….
The dive guide has a duty to assess the proposed dive site, check for hazards, exit and entry points. A thorough dive briefing must be given, informing divers about the layout of the divesite, points of interest, hazards to avoid (if any). Brief on entry and exit points, the suggested dive route that should be taken by autonomous divers. Maximum depth, dive time and air consumption surfacing limits may be given. Checking divers in and out of the water and how the guide, in person will perform during a tour with a dive group. Buddy teams should be decided upon before entering the water, ensuring no-one is going alone.
The dive guide has also the right to cancel the dive if he/she feels the dive site deems not suitable.
After the briefing, if you, as a diver choose to deviate from the recommended dive plan, it is certainly not the dive guides fault if it goes wrong. The guide is there to stick to the briefing plan, ensuring that conditions and dive site is safe, they are not there to monitor your safe-diving practices, that is your responsibility.
How to minimise risk.
First and foremost, maintain awareness of what is going on. Be vigilant and listen to the briefing given about the dive site, conditions and planned route. If you are being guided, still take the opportunity to make sure you know where you are going, how deep you are and your air consumption. Keep the recommended dive plan in your mind, know the given exit points, use your navigational skills as to whereabouts you are and remember the Emergency plan.That way, if something goes wrong, you can complete or end the dive on your own and return safely to the surface with your buddy.
Divers who follow a guide without paying any attention to their diving responsibilities can be a hazardous situation. Out of air situations arise through no self control, rapid ascents and separation from the group or buddy is mostly caused through absentmindedness.. By sharing the responsibility between you and your guide, it will lead to a much safer and enjoyable dive. You will become a more experienced, independent diver and your comfort levels will elevate as you gain confidence in yourself and your abilities.