September Tips from the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Team

In 2018 the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips from PADI staff in the field on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from Donny McFadden Quality Management Consultant – PADI Asia Pacific.

Emergency Action Plans

As PADI Professionals there are many split decisions we may need to make on the job, some with very little consequence and others with far greater implications. To dive or not to dive? Backwards roll or giant stride? Do I eat the last cookie from the box or not…?

One important decision dive professionals may find themselves faced with is whether or not to enact the Emergency Action Plan for not so obvious barotrauma injuries. Enacting the Emergency Action Plan will in many cases mean ending the dive trip. With the expectations of paying customers and the potential financial and logistical complications that may occur from ending a trip, dive pros may find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I can hear what you’re saying, and on paper it seems very obvious – it’s a choice between customer service or assisting a DCI victim. Simple right? However as we all know in reality not all cases of DCI are obvious, with many cases presenting symptoms in line with other conditions such as dehydration, muscular injury or seasickness to name a few. In some cases the divers themselves will reject the notion that they may be suffering from DCI at all. In fact one of the biggest dangers of DCI is actually denial itself.

In light of this it’s important to remember DCI is a hazard divers are innately exposed to, even though the risk is moderately low, DCI can happen to anyone, even on uneventful dives.

If there is even the remotest suspicion of DCI the diver should be assessed and appropriate first aid administered. The Emergency Action Plan should contain a symptom checklist and guidelines for a neurological assessment. Unless medically trained to do so, dive professionals are not qualified to diagnose divers for DCI, however knowing what you are looking for will help when you make the call to a diver emergency helpline (if available) and/or EMS.

Calling a diver emergency hotline such as Divers Alert Network, and/or the local hyperbaric chamber, and/or EMS is a very important part of the Emergency Action Plan. Organisations such as DAN have 24 hour hotlines with medical professionals on hand to provide advice. Calling for assistance also helps shift the responsibility of proceeding with evacuation procedures away from the dive pro and onto a trained medical professional. If an organisation like DAN says evacuate, nobody will question that decision. Even if the symptoms turn out to be unrelated to DCI, everyone will sleep better knowing that diagnosis came from a qualified medical physician.

Emergency Action Plans should be a stringent part of any dive operations Standard Operating Procedure. It should have a clear sequence, list of emergency contacts, evacuation details specific to the area and it should be as simple or extensive as the dive environment dictates. As a dive pro make sure you are familiar with your Emergency Action Plans, and if possible get the team together to practice a drill from time to time to test for efficiency. As PADI Professionals we all hope we are never placed in a real emergency situation, but if we ever are – we not only need to be prepared, but we also have a responsibility to be prepared.

Donny McFadden, Quality Management Consultant – PADI Asia Pacific.


August Tips from the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Team

In 2018 the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips from PADI staff in the field on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from Michelle Brunton, Manager Quality and Risk Management – PADI Asia Pacific.

The link between Mastery and Risk Management

How many times should a person practice a skill before you sign the training record to say they have mastered it? The level of performance they need to attain is called Mastery and is defined on Page 24 of the PADI Instructor Manual:

 ….mastery is defined as performing the skill so it meets the stated performance requirements in a reasonably comfortable, fluid, repeatable manner as would be expected of a diver at that certification level”.

For some students it may take little practice, for others it may take a lot more – learning is an individual journey. Most people do not learn a new motor skill on the first go.

Managing to do a skill once is not mastery and does not necessarily indicate the skill has been acquired. Is the student comfortable enough with skills such as the emergency weightdrop skill that they would do it automatically at the surface in an emergency situation? Would they inflate their BCD on the surface as well?

One aspect of learning a motorskill is described in the ‘Commitment to Excellence’ section of the PADI Instructor manual “When teaching, repetition is important for mastery and long term skill retention”.

Repetition is built into the PADI programme for good reason. To ensure divers are competent and comfortable once certified to conduct their own dives in an environment similar to the one they were trained in.

If we certify a person as having achieved mastery and in a couple of days they are unable to repeat those skills in a reasonable fluid and comfortable fashion – did they really achieve mastery? If they then have an accident, questions could be asked about the judgement the instructor used to determine they had mastered the skill.

When a diver walks in to a dive store with an Open Water certification it is reasonable for the store to expect that they have achieved a certain level of skill. Sure – they are not likely to be as skilled as a diver with 50 dives, but they should be able to complete the basic skills from the Open Water course to comfortably dive in similar conditions to those in which they were trained. Problems arise when divers book in for dives and then it becomes clear that they have not mastered the expected skills. This can expose the diver and the dive store to an unreasonable level of risk.

1. Practice makes perfect

So what can we do when a student does not master a skill at the same time as the others in their course. Keep practising if the student has time, or provide a referral if the student has to continue their travels.

2. Session breaks

Rests between sessions are important for learning and for the retention of learning. While skills are acquired during in session activity they are consolidated during rest periods.

3. Learning agreements

Have a clear learning agreement in place so that everyone understands what will happen if a student does not achieve mastery and cannot be certified within the agreed timeframe. You can access an example learning agreement on the PADI Pros’ Site under Forms and Applications – Sample learning agreement.

The agreement clearly states the responsibilities of both the student and the dive centre and the policy if additional sessions are required. Clearly communicated training agreements can prevent customer complaints in the future when a student does not get certified within the original timeframe.

To sum up

Our ultimate goal as dive instructors is to teach people how to safely and comfortably enjoy this phenomenal water planet we live on. By ensuring student divers have mastered the skills of whichever training level we are teaching at the time we have met our basic responsibilities as teachers.

Michelle Brunton, Manager Quality and Risk Management – PADI Asia Pacific.


July Tips from the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Team

In 2018 the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips from PADI staff in the field on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Consultant, Rebecca Wastall, and PADI Asia Pacific Vice President, Training, Sales, & Field Services, Danny Dwyer.

“An injury that seems insignificant at the time can become something more serious in the days and weeks that follow. If a diver has an incident, stay in contact with them to determine if signs and symptoms are getting better or worse. Staying in contact with your students/customers after an incident helps to determine how serious the incident is and it’s also great customer service.” PADI Asia Pacific Vice President, Danny Dwyer.

How many time have you heard “There is no need to write a report, that’s not serious enough” or “Don’t worry the store will write the report on behalf of everyone involved.” Do you as a member actually know when you should submit a report? It may be more often than you think.

So how is it defined? Let’s refer to your PADI instructor manual for guidance.

“Submit a PADI Incident Report Form to your PADI Office immediately after you witness or are involved in a diving or dive operation-related accident/incident, regardless of whether the incident occurred in or out of the water, is training related, recreational, technical or seemingly insignificant.”

If an incident or ‘near-miss’ occurs write up an incident report and send it to

Learning from incidents

It would be good practice to then investigate what happened and who was involved. Are there any recommendations for further safety procedures? What can be learnt from the incident to minimise the chances of the same thing occurring in the future? To quote Benjamin Franklin “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Investigating the causal factors of incidents can help you reduce the likelihood of a future incident and give all some piece of mind that you are doing your best to prevent an incident from occurring.

Treat for the worst case scenario

There is a tried and true saying in risk management that says “Treat the worst case scenario.” In a recent case the dive crew aboard a boat ‘diagnosed’ a customer with seasickness instead of Decompression Sickness. The diver did not receive medical treatment or oxygen. The diver subsequently went to hospital themselves and received hyperbaric treatment and serious long lasting injuries as a result of DCS. Had the dive crew made a phone call to the closest diver emergency services the responsibility for ‘diagnosing’ and giving medical advice would have been shifted from them to the experts. The customer would have received the treatment in a timely manner which may have minimized the physical consequences. The incident report would have been documented and the store and staff would be in a much better position.

Consequences of not reporting an incident

The consequences of not reporting an incident or near miss can vary depending on the nature of the incident and country it occurred in. You have an obligation under your membership to report the incident to PADI. Failure to report an incident may mean your insurance is delayed in being utilized. It could be seen as a failure on a member’s behalf to take a matter seriously and could be used against you in a negligence claim. Without the incident report you have no “Aide memoire” to call on for guidance. This is a document written at the time of the incident and is considered to be more accurate than recall from memory alone. Often the question asked is “How can you possibly remember the detail several years later.” Even for incidents that might be perceived to be ‘minor’ in nature it is better to have a report on record than to possibly miss an incident report which turns out to be something more serious. If an incident does occur PADI Quality Management Department and territory staff are here to support you and answers any questions you may have.

Rebecca Wastall, Quality Management Consultant, PADI Quality Management.


June Tips from the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Team

In 2018 the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips from PADI staff in the field on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Manager, Michelle Brunton.

“Taking simple, small actions can make the biggest difference in reducing risk.” Michelle Brunton

The ‘Be safe- Be seen’ type campaigns for cyclists combined with driver education and changes to driving laws has been effective in many areas at reducing the risk of cyclists being hit by traffic.

Surface Markey buoys Dive flags have been around a long time and are one of the most simple and cost effective ways to reduce risk of surface boat incidents, yet they are still not used in every location where there is boat traffic. Incidents in which boats hit a diver have tragic consequences and are devastating for everyone involved. We should have a zero tolerance for these incidents and do everything possible to reduce the risk.

The U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Resource Centre reports that from 2005 to 2013 boat-propeller strikes caused 636 injuries and 38 deaths of people engaged in water activities (boating, water skiing, swimming, snorkelling, diving, tubing, etc.); 442 of these injuries and 29 of these deaths were caused by a person being struck by a vessel.

After reviewing several incidents in which boats have hit divers the following aspects became noticeable:

WHEN: Boats can hit divers before, during and after a dive. We assume that these boat propeller incidents happen at the end of the dive when the divers ascend to the surface. But often they occur on the surface before the dive on during the dive when divers unintentionally get close to the surface.

We should be ensuring the start of the dive is smooth in terms of the descent and that divers are not placed in situations where they drift away from the marked descent line or into areas of boat movement. We should use a well-marked and clearly visible descent line where possible.

We often stress the importance of divers deploying their SMBs at the end of the dive during the safety stop to mark their location. But at the start of dives a diver has an ear problem having difficulty descending, conducting a buoyancy check, or getting more weight from the boat or shore. These situations mean the diver is on the surface possibly away from the pre-arranged descent area and possibly at higher risk of not being seen by a boat driver.

SNORKELING: We tend to think of SMBs and Flags for the use of SCUBA Divers, but what about snorkelers. How do we mark the location of snorkelers in areas of boat traffic? Some locations now require the marking of snorkelers so they are easily seen both by other boats and by the dive operation surface watch staff. So let’s ask ourselves “Does our dive store or resort supply marking buoys or surface marking devices suitable for both snorkelers and divers?

DIVER BEHAVIOUR CAN PUT THE DIVER AT RISK: Some incidents occur as a result of diver skills and behaviour. What diver behaviours could make a difference?

  • Using SMBs every dive – every time
  • Use a hand held float on dives with lots of boat traffic and/or drift dives
  • Training and practicing effective safe entry and descent skills
  • Being aware of boat traffic before the dive, at the safety stop and during ascent
  • Navigation skills – getting back to the planned exit point
  • Buoyancy skills – reducing the likelihood of unplanned surfacing during a dive
  • Know the weights you require – or if you are not sure get in the water and do buoyancy checks so that you can comfortably descend
  • Manage gas consumption – keep fit, plan the dive well in terms of depth, current and bottom time to avoid unplanned ascents due to low air situations

BOAT DRIVING BEHAVIOUR CAN PUT THE DIVER AT RISK: This one might be a bit more complex and requires some good leadership and teamwork between dive stores. Can we get together the operators in the area to talk about the management of boats at our dive sites? Can we come up with a local ‘good practice’ guideline for boat operators that will enhance safety? It might include:

  • Radio communications protocols during drop offs and pick ups
  • Establishing safe lanes where divers tend to surface
  • Agreements that all operators will use a dive flag when dives are in water
  • Agreements to reduce speeds around diving areas to even lower than local law requirements
  • Ensuring Dive professionals and other crew are vigilant on watch and letting the skipper know about DSMBs in the water and divers (especially on larger boats where the skipper cannot see everything)
  • Staggering dive entries between operators so that each boat has time to get in and out of the entry area safely

It is in all of our best interests to reduce the risk of boating incidents. Consider the whole picture and look for ways to reduce this risk:

The timing
The snorkeler
The diver behaviour
The boat behaviour

May Tips from the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Team

In 2018 the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips from PADI staff in the field on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Consultant and Qualified Barrister, Rebecca Wastall.

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

“In today’s changing world I don’t think we can ignore the importance of insurance. Make sure you are protected as a dive professional. We live in litigious times and comprehensive cover should be at the top of your agenda.” Rebecca Wastall

Rebecca Wastall, PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Consultant

Insurance, a topic no one likes discussing! It’s something that most don’t want to buy but feel they are forced into purchasing. Insurance seems to dominate everything we do, from driving a vehicle to travel to sporting activities. We can’t move without someone saying “you need insurance for that”. Depending on where you are based in Asia Pacific depends entirely on whether it is or isn’t compulsory to have insurance in the diving industry too. As it stands any member that goes to work as a dive professional in Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia and New Caledonia are required by law to have insurance. This is regardless of your country of origin or how long you intend to stay.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that so many diving professional decide not to purchase insurance when it’s not compulsory for the great majority and can therefore be ignored? Absolutely not. A few years ago litigation was unheard of in places like Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. Unfortunately today’s world is bringing new challenges and those that thought “it’s not required so I won’t invest” are unfortunately on occasion regretting their decisions.

In the last six months there have been several cases of negligence where court proceedings have been issued in the Asia Pacific Region. In most of the cases the allegations are vehemently denied. Most of these stores did not have insurance and now have to fight their way through the court system either unaided or by paying privately. With legal bills in excess of $100k, companies are struggling to find the fees to fight. All of these new cases are in countries not normally associated with issuing legal proceedings.

People it seems, be it through media attention, advertisements of lawyers or otherwise, are becoming familiar with bringing compensation claims. Looking for fault, regardless of whether it can or can’t be justified. People are becoming aware they can bring a civil law suit anywhere in the world providing they apply the legal principles laid down by the country where the incident took place. With the introduction of the “no win no fee” system people are thinking there is nothing to lose. Anyone can bring a claim. You need to ask yourself are you in a position to defend it?

PADI Risk Management Seminar in Koh Tao 2018

Have you considered how you would pay for legal proceedings if you were to be sued as a company, as an individual or both? Do you have that contingency? Do you understand that as a company you could be liable for anything your instructors do under employment or when using freelancers. Vicarious liability is strict in nature and if an incident takes place and falls within the remit of diving it is likely the claimant will sue the store as well as the individual as the store is more likely to be solvent and able to pay.

Obviously we don’t want our members to be placed in this position. Check and double check your paperwork, keep your training up to date and be cautious when people complain of ailments that could be associated with many different conditions. Always treat the worst case scenario. This is safe and best practice. What you need to ask yourself however, is, is this enough? Has our liability culture struck a new level, a level we would be foolish to ignore?
In the scheme of a business expense, for an individual or company, insuring yourself or your dive centre is not expensive in nature. Yes, it is an extra cost but it is good to at least explore the benefits it could give you. There are many insurance companies available to give you Liability Insurance. PADI works closely with our approved partner V Insurance as we feel it gives good cover in many areas. It has been specifically designed for PADI Asia Pacific Members. It provides both Public and Product Liability, Professional Indemnity, assistance in criminal prosecutions, coronial inquests, workplace health and safety defence costs as well as crisis and media management. For exact cover and figures please go to for more details.

In terms of how much you will be paying out, well it may be less than you think. For a few hundred dollars you are getting a comprehensive insurance support package.

If you would like further information and would like to speak with the V insurance specialist team on:

1300 945 547 (Toll Free Australia Only) or (+61 2) 8599 8660

If you have any concerns about incidents or potential liability problems occurring please feel free to call or email the Quality Management Department on +61 2945542841 or by email at

Your Air, Your Safety: A DAN Asia Pacific Safety and Awareness Campaign

If it wasn’t for scuba cylinders and surface-supply breathing apparatus that give us the possibility to breathe underwater, we wouldn’t be able to explore the underwater world. However, we also need to be vigilant that the gas we breathe is safe as there are various kinds of contaminations that can turn your underwater life support into poison.

After the relatively recent death of a scuba diver, it was found the level of Carbon Monoxide (CO) in his tank was over 450 times the accepted limit. He had filled his tank from a compressor which had, allegedly, not been properly maintained or regularly tested. As a result, the air being supplied was found to be very high in Carbon Monoxide (CO) levels.

This has prompted DAN Asia Pacific (AP) to launch a long-contemplated safety and awareness campaign in an effort to prevent a repeat of this incident.

Many divers only think about air problems from the perspective of running low or managing an out of air emergency, so DAN AP will work to create awareness for this very real issue. Contaminated gas can lead to perception changes and subsequent poor decisions, headaches, dizziness, nausea and, in extreme cases; it may cause unconsciousness and even death.

Unconsciousness from CO poisoning often occurs during or shortly after the ascent and can often lead to drowning unless the diver is rescued very quickly.

Over the coming months, DAN AP will be sharing information that is focussed on prevention and aimed at equipping recreational and professional divers with:

  • An understanding of the dangers of carbon monoxide and other contaminants
  • The ability to identify the symptoms associated with CO poisoning
  • First Aid and Treatment; and
  • Knowledge on how to reduce the risk of poisoning.

The main goal of the campaign is to prevent people from diving with contaminated breathing gas in the first place. We encourage you to share the information so we reach as many divers as possible.

Join the campaign via DAN AP’s Facebook Page, Twitter , Blog , and access resources via the Diving Safety section of the DAN AP website.

Let’s work together to ensure the air we all breathe when diving is safe.
Note: Safety campaigns are financed by DAN membership dues. Thank you to our members for their invaluable support.

Safe Diving.
The DAN Asia-Pacific Team

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April Tips from the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management Team

In 2018 the PADI Asia Pacific Quality Management team continues to bring you tips from PADI staff in the field on how to maintain and improve safety in your professional diving activities. This month we heard from Territory Director Thomas Knedlik.

 “As dive professionals working in an industry that is extremely fun and rewarding we easily gain self-esteem and confidence. With this self-satisfaction in mind, we need to ensure that we don’t fall into the trap of complacency, we must focus on the process instead of just the outcome; training divers to become comfortable and confident, not just meeting minimum requirements. By continuously evaluating, developing and adapting our own skills and knowledge we can ensure that diving remains fun, rewarding and enjoyable for generations to come.”

Thomas Knedlik

Teaching is one of the most rewarding things we can do. There is nothing better than seeing the look on a newly qualified PADI Diver radiating with pride and achievement. Sometimes however, this moment gets lost when we have to deal with pressure. This pressure could be to get the job done quickly or to skip certain skills because “they don’t really matter”, for example. This “one off” breach of standards could quickly build and occur time and time again.

Complacency builds on complacency, you see someone cut a corner, get lazy about how a skill is performed and before you know it others do it too. They copy you and we quickly go from a culture of safety to a culture of concern. We all want to be at the top of our game as instructors and stay there. We want our students to tell others how well the course went, how much fun they had, how they mastered their buoyancy and how much cool stuff they saw. All this comes through your dedication and commitment to your job. It should never be about getting someone through something but building an experience they will never forget.

On occasion we need to check ourselves. Remember why we chose this career. What is it we love doing and why? If you are getting bored with the same thing day in day out only you can make positive changes. Take a new course yourself, venture into a new challenge in diving. With PADI Freediver growing in popularity maybe this is something to expand into? Have you always wanted to try technical diving? Maybe now is a good time to give PADI TecRec a go. Regenerate your love for diving in a new and exciting way.

Review your own knowledge and keep up to date with Training Bulletins and read The Undersea Journal. Attend PADI webinars and seminars that are being held all across Asia Pacific. Ultimately don’t let complacency get the better of you. You want to keep it the fun and rewarding career you signed up for.

Until next time, we wish happy and safe diving for all.

Rebecca Wastall
Quality Management Consultant
PADI Quality Management