In the sixth of our series on dive programs for children, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the PADI Junior Rescue Diver Course. 

There are several levels of PADI certifications for children starting at age 8. We’ve outlined course options including Bubblemaker, PADI Seal Team, Discover Scuba Diving, Junior Open Water,  and PADI Junior Specialty Diver. Today we’ll discuss PADI Junior Rescue Diver.

Once your child has completed his Open Water certification, he should spend as much time diving as possible to practice his new skills. They should also stay in the mindset of continuing education, just as they do in school. To help them do that, PADI has identified several courses for the junior diver.

PADI Junior Rescue Diver

Of the courses available for kids 10- to 12-years-old, Junior Rescue is probably the most important, and possibly the most difficult after Junior Open Water.  It is, as with other PADI courses, the same course that adults take. Kids will use the same book, and must exhibit the same knowledge mastery and skill mastery requirements. The course requires kids to demonstrate a variety of skills that they may need in an emergency setting. PADI requires Jr. Rescue Diver students to complete their Adventure Diver certification (with an Underwater Navigation Adventure Dive) or their Jr. Advanced Open Water Diver, prior to taking Jr. Rescue. Either course will provide them with more training and practice before they start Rescue.

What to expect

There is a lot to this course, so it will last at least two full days, possibly longer with kids. Paying a little extra for private training would benefit most children in this course as well.  There are five knowledge development segments and an exam, like the Open Water course, along with skills demonstration, participation in rescue scenarios, and preparation of an emergency assistance plan for a dive site. Kids must also demonstrate how to use an accident-management slate as part of their gear. All students must complete Emergency First Aid (EFR) Primary and Secondary Care training as well. They may do so along with the Rescue Diver Course, but taking EFR a few weeks prior to Rescue will minimize the load of the Rescue course.

Rescue scenarios

All the rescue scenarios take place in 20 to 30 feet (6 to 9 m) of water. The ratio of student to instructor is 4 to 1, as the scenarios can be more intense than typical skills demonstrations. Junior Rescue students will have to demonstrate skills such as cramp release, use of an alternate air source, and achievement and maintenance of surface buoyancy. They will also learn how to overcome vertigo and re-establish their sense of direction. Once they have learned to resolve their own issues in the water, coursework will turn to rescue scenarios of other divers. During these scenarios, students will learn and demonstrate the following:

  • Approach, evaluate, assist and transport a tired diver
  • Approach, evaluate, assist, and transport a panicked diver, including gaining control of the diver, taking him to the surface, and inflating his BCD. They must also learn when to push the diver away because his panic is putting the Jr. Rescue student in danger. Keep in mind that the panicked diver is an assistant instructor or divemaster pretending to panic, and while they will try to behave as realistically as possible, student safety is their priority.
  • Approach, evaluate, assist and transport an unresponsive diver, both at the surface and underwater. During the underwater transport the student will have to get the “unconscious” diver to the surface from a depth of 20 to 30 feet.
  • Assist a responsive diver from the shore, a boat or dock
  • Search for and locate a missing diver
  • First aid for pressure-related injuries and oxygen administration

This course is stressful by design, but it is worth it. Most divers consider themselves better divers and buddies after completing the rescue course, and the same goes for teenagers. Learning how to successfully perform the necessary skills before an emergency occurs is priceless.  When my son takes the course this summer, I’ll take my own advice and enroll him in a private course. There is a lot to learn in the PADI Junior Rescue Diver course, but learning how to save your own, or someone else’s, life underwater is priceless.

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