Rescue Diver Course - Handling Nature's Curveballs
Rescue Scuba Course with iDive
Feb 2016 - Written by Sara Magee
It was a warm and sunny February day in North Florida. Everyone was looking forward to a beautiful and clear spring dive at Royal Springs. Basic rescue skills had been learned and practiced in a pool the day before. Now we would put our newly developed rescue skills to the test in an open water environment, and hopefully all walk away with official scuba rescue certifications. As we approached the spring, hopes were high. We couldn’t wait to get a glimpse of that crystal blue water.
But one by one, hopes were dashed as the spring came into view. The water was a deep brown color, and very cold. This was unusual and nothing like the regular pristine blue we had all been looking forward to! After some discussion it was discovered that due to heavy rains in Georgia, the Suwannee River system had completely flooded, and the spring was choking on silty, cold river water. Our brave instructor, Chappy, volunteered to dive into the spring to see if the visibility was any better closer to the bottom. But alas, after what was undoubtedly a very brisk swim, he informed us that visibility was nonexistent. The spring had in fact inverted, and instead of spitting clean spring water out, it was sucking the cloudy river water in. Completing underwater rescue skills here would be impossible.
Having prepared for the dive and driven two hours to get to this spring, we were reluctant to cancel the planned activities, but we knew we couldn’t dive here. After a little research we decided to bite the 30 dollar bullet and make the 1.5 hour drive South, to Blue Grotto instead. We knew that this water would be clear and blue because it was not connected to the Suwannee River. Once we arrived at Blue Grotto, things started looking up. The usual crowds were starting to disperse and by the time we were ready to jump in the water, we were only sharing the spring with a couple other dive groups.
Skills were reviewed and tested. The skills included but were not limited to; how to help an unconscious diver, how to help a panicked diver, and even how to help a diver relieve a troublesome leg cramp! This portion of the dive was where a lot of learning took place, and I am proud to say that all of us passed with flying colors!
After the skills had been completed and a short surface interval had been observed, it was play time. We all had a lot of air left in our tanks and decided to spend the rest of the dive rewarding ourselves. Blue Grotto is infamous for its crystal blue water and its 100ft depth. There is an air bell located 30ft below the surface that we all took turns playing with. We had fun talking to our buddies in the air bell while watching fish and fellow divers swim around level with our heads, just outside of the glass. We also had the privilege of meeting Blue Grotto’s curious and friendly resident turtle, Virgil! In addition, some of us had invested in small bags of fish food to bring down and feed the fish with. That was quite entertaining as nearly every fish in the grotto raced towards us to try and get a bite.
*Austin, one of the Rescue Course students, enjoying some attention from Virgil the Turtle at Blue Grotto =0)
Despite the disappointment at Royal Springs, we pushed through, found a way and made it work! All in all, we had a wonderful day and a wonderful dive! Big thanks to our awesome instructors, to my fellow rescue students and to iDive for setting this whole thing up!