Short diving courses are “madness”, an expert has said as inquests were held into diver deaths in the South West of England.
Dr Philip Bryson, head of the Diving Diseases Research Centre in Plymouth, said modern diving courses allowed novices to do too much too quickly.
Dr Bryson, who specialises in diving accidents, said he was amazed beginners could be certified at advanced level after just eight dives.
(In fact PADI says nine dives are needed to get an advanced open water certificate.)
Dr Bryson continued “I have been in this business for 23 years and I do not think someone with 47 dives is an experienced diver. The diving community needs to be totally re-educated.”
Giving evidence at the inquests of three divers who died off the coasts of Cornwall and Devon, he singled out the American company PADI, the world’s biggest diving training organisation, for particular criticism. He said its methods had forced others to streamline their training programmes.
Traditionally British training agencies, such as the British Sub-Aqua Club, have offered much more rigorous basic training than PADI to prepare their divers for what can be demanding British diving conditions. People who have learnt to dive on Mediterranean or Red Sea holidays are often not adequately prepared for British diving with its tides, currents and cooler conditions.
The coroner, Nigel Meadows, concluded “Diving is a wonderful hobby and it would be wrong for me to discourage it but divers need to be responsible to themselves and to others.”