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How to Write an Emergency Action Plan for Your Divemaster Course

Have you taken your diving interest to the next level and are currently taking the PADI Divemaster course? Then you will also need to prepare an Emergency Assistance Plan for a designated dive site in your area. Admittedly the PADI instructor manual is not very clear on what exactly this plan needs to contain so in this blog post we will give you all the information you need.

Understanding the emergency assistance plan is crucial for those pursuing to become a divemaster. In this guide, we will walk you through the steps to create a comprehensive emergency plan tailored to your needs.

And in case of an emergency, you enhance the likelihood of a positive outcome through thorough planning and preparation. All our divemaster trainees here at Rich Coast Diving, receive the proper training on how to handle and manage most common emergency scenarios when a situation occurs. These emergencies can range from being small like a jellyfish sting to an unlikely event of a diver with DCS symptoms.

1. Where do I find the information that I need to prepare my Emergency Assistance Plan?

There are several sources that will provide you with the required background information to put together your plan.

eLearnig PADI Divemaster Course

First of all, there is your PADI Divemaster eLearning. If you read through Chapter 2 Supervising diving Activities, you will better understand how to prepare yourself to handle problems at a dive site and your role as a divemaster in accident management.

Chapter 4, Diver safety and Risk Management talks about risk management techniques and the tools that PADI has available in case of any emergency events.

  • Negligence and Duty of Care

  • Your Health, Safety and Diving Proficiency

  • PADI Paperwork and Administrative Procedures

This part of the divemaster theory forms an important part of understanding your emergency assistance plan.

eLearning PADI Rescue Diver Course

If you did your Rescue diver course with PADI than you have access to the digital eLearning portion of this course. Under the section resources you will find a PDF with the accident management work slate and the diving accident management flowchart. You can add these to your emergency assistance plan.

PADI follows the information provided on the DAN website and gives very useful information on the details of your emergency action plan. Use the following link. Here you find more information in the DAN blog Post: "How to Create an Effective Emergency Action Plan (EAP)".

Practicing Emergency First Response Skills

2. Why should I write a Diving Emergency Assistance Plan?

Before delving into the details of creating an emergency action plan, it's essential to comprehend why it is a vital component of your diving experience. An emergency action plan outlines the necessary steps to take in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as equipment failure, adverse weather conditions, or diver emergencies. By having a well-thought-out plan in place, you can effectively respond to emergencies and mitigate risks, ensuring a safe and enjoyable diving experience.

3. Before you create Your Emergency Action Plan

Before you start writing your plan, consider the following. Identify potential risks specific to your diving environment, such as strong currents, marine life encounters, or underwater navigation challenges. Understanding these risks will help you prepare appropriate responses in your emergency action plan.

Then think about clear and concise procedures for various emergencies, including lost diver scenarios, equipment malfunctions, and first aid protocols. And the responsibilities and actions of the team members in different emergency situations.

Diver entering the water

Effective communication plays a crucial role in ensuring coordination and swift action during emergencies. So, define diver signals, underwater communication methods, and surface communication protocols.

Another part of the plan is the emergency equipment you might need in case of an emergency. Identify this equipment and think about how to inspect and maintain your diving equipment to prevent malfunctions during dives. Include equipment checks in your pre-dive routine and ensure that emergency gear, such as first aid kits and signaling and communication devices, are readily accessible.

Finally, it is all about training. Identify what regular emergency drills need to be conducted to simulate different crisis situations and practice needed to execute your emergency action plan. By rehearsing responses to emergencies, you can enhance your team's preparedness and responsiveness in real-life scenarios.

Emergency Response Training in Costa Rica

4. Format for your Emergency Assistance Plan

Ok now it is time to put pen to the paper and formulate your action plan. You can use the following outline or layout. Make sure the information is correct and contains details specific to your situation. Most likely your plan will end up being a 4-to-5-page document.

PAGE 1: Contact details and how to Activate EMS

  1. Contact information emergency services: Local clinics / hospitals / EMS

  2. VHF radio frequencies of coast guards / lifeguards

  3. Contact information Divecenter owner / manager

Emergency phone numbers Costa Rica

Example of an overview with Emergency contacts and addresses.

PAGE 2: Map of dive sites and evacuation points for emergency personal

Example map emergeny evacuation

Example map with pick up location for emergency services, dive shop and local clinic for medical assistance.

PAGE 3: Emergency call script (English and local language)

Example call script with commonly used phrases to communicate with local emergency services.

PAGE 4 and 5: PADI accident work slate and diving accident management flow chart

Adopting these steps while creating your emergency action plan for your divemaster course will enhance your safety preparedness and contribute to a more enjoyable and secure diving experience. Clearly, there are essential components that should be included in any emergency assistance plan, while other details may be optional or depend on the specific dive site and logistics. Begin by asking yourself what the first steps should be. Typically, the best course of action is to contact emergency services, the police if necessary, and the dive center.

For boat dives, it's crucial to know the VHF channels and emergency call procedures, as well as the location of the nearest port. Having the exact address of the location is useful, along with information on how or from where an ambulance can access the site for evacuation. Including a map with directions can help those involved understand their current location and provide accurate information to emergency responders. Additionally, knowing the location of the nearest hospital and decompression chamber is vital.

Learning emergency diving skills

Practicing emergency scenarios is serious business but who says you cannot have fun at the same time! These beauties are ready to rescue and deal with diving emergencies.

It's also very important to know the location of nearby emergency equipment, such as the emergency oxygen kit, first aid kit, and possibly a defibrillator. It often takes time for EMS to arrive, so being able to administer oxygen to the victim as early as possible can be lifesaving. Providing arriving emergency personnel with information about the victim, including the dive profile, can be very helpful. When diving with a dive center, the victim's personal paperwork, including important information, insurance number, and medical questionnaire, is likely on hand. If there are any pre-existing medical conditions, EMS should be informed.

As you can see, the content of an emergency plan can vary depending on whether it is a general emergency plan or focused on a specific dive site. Here at Rich Coast Diving we often dive in remote locations like Bats Islands (Murcielago) or Catlinas Islands. Additional details and considerations are needed in an action plan for emergencies in remote locations.

Want to know more about preparing an emergency action plan. Join our Divemaster program in Costa Rica. Contact us for more details.

Rich Coast Diving

Mrs. Céline Monfort

WhatsApp +506 8610 0914

Rich Coast Diving Logo

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