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The PADI Rescue Diver Course Or How To Be A Better Diver

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Taking the Rescue Diver course will offer you the possibility to enjoy diving with higher safety rates, be able to detect problems in other divers, and help them if necessary.

The above sentence has valuable information, but perhaps the value of the Rescue Diver course can be better understood if we put it in context. Let me tell you a story.

Not long ago, I did a technical cave dive to 80 meters.

My dive buddy and I wanted to explore a new section of the cave. We did Trimix diving, me on a rebreather and my dive buddy on an open system.

Before we finished the time set for the dive, my buddy asked to start the ascent. As a rescue diver, I realized that something was wrong. He had miscalculated and was running out of air. I had plenty of air for myself and an extra bottle for caution.

As you will see, it is not a spectacular case, but as a rescue diver, my safety rates were higher. I detected the problem and was able to help him. In addition, we are talking about technical diving, where rescue diving was originated. But we’ll tell you about that later. For now, take a look at the table of contents.

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1. What is the Rescue Diver course?

The Rescue Diver course is a training course to learn techniques to help other divers unable to handle an emergency by themselves. Starting with recognizing that a rescue is needed, the location of the problem, and the actions necessary to solve it. In addition, the rescuer must know how to take care of his safety and avoid becoming another victim.

  • What do Rescue Divers do?

Emergencies in recreational diving are rare. Even so, and although we are facing an increasingly safe sport, rescue divers are necessary.

The rescue diver is generally the reserve diver and must be attentive and ready for action.

Some of the complications they must know how to deal with are loss of breathing gas or inability to access it, becoming trapped, exhausted, or unconsciousness.

A rescue diver must know how to recover the diver and get him/her to a safe place with an air supply and evacuate him/her for further treatment.

  • Technical Diving and Rescue Diving, What Is Their Relationship?

As we mentioned before, recreational diving hardly involves risk.

Technical diving is different.

The complications involved in technical diving have demanded extra measures; that’s the reason why accident analysis is well established in this branch of diving.

This type of analysis came from aviation. They analyze human behavior as another variable.

After a technical diving accident, causes are analyzed and determined. Concerning similar accidents, they identify patterns. Once discovered, they develop procedures and legislation to minimize risks. Rescue diving is the result of this analysis.

  • Is a Rescue Diver Course Worth It?

By taking the Rescue Diver course:

You will improve your diving skills.

The learning systems we work with at Dressel Divers are specially designed to improve your skills as a diver. The Rescue Diver certification is no exception; you will expand your knowledge, experience and number of dives.

You will optimize your self-management when diving.

Once you finish your rescue diver training, you will be more self-confident. The knowledge as a dive rescuer will enable you to take better care of your own safety and the safety of others.

You will be able to anticipate problems.

When you have completed the rescue diver course, you will be more aware of the challenges divers face and a safer diver. Therefore, whoever dives with you will also be safer.

You will be able to look after others’ safety.

If something happens, despite every caution and however unlikely it might be, you will know how to react. You will be able to cope with any diving emergency thanks to techniques that will protect you and your partner’s physical integrity.

You will be a better dive buddy.

The perfect dive buddy exists and he or she is a Rescue Diver. What else can we say?

It can be another step in developing your career as a professional diver.

If you only intend to improve your skills as a recreational diver, perfect. However, if your professional ambitions are to develop a career as a diver, the rescue diver certification will be the first step, followed by a second one, the Dive Master course.

You will be able to do your rescue diver course with different agencies. The main ones are PADI and SDI. We see the content of their courses below.

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2. PADI Rescue Diver Course or SDI Rescue Dive Certification

Both PADI and SDI have an excellent scuba rescue diver training program.

SDI (Scuba Diving International) was born as the recreational diving branch of TDI (Tech Diving International), based on technical diving.  So, they have more experience in dealing with potential risks and provide a plus in their training.

  • Rescue Diver Requirements

PADI Rescue Diver Requirements SDI Rescue Diver Requirements
–        – Have completed the “Underwater Navigation” Adventure Dive and be certified as a PADI Adventure Diver.

–        – Advanced Open Water Certification

–        – Current certification in CPR, first aid, and oxygen provider (O2).

–        – 12 years old

–        – Medical certificate.

– Advanced Adventure Diver SDI certification, or equivalent, or Open Water Scuba Diver SDI certification or equivalent and 40 logged dives.

– Current certification in CPR, first aid, and oxygen provider (O2)

– 18 years old (15 years old with parental consent)

– Medical certificate.


  • How long does it take to become a Rescue Diver?

– PADI eLearning: 8-12 hours


– Full course: 4-7 days

1. The suggested number of hours of training is 12.

2. Of the suggested 12 hours, 8 of them must be conducted in open water.

– Full course: 4-5 days


  • Rescue Diver Training

The course content with both certifying agencies is divided into three parts. However, SDI allows instructors to structure dive rescue courses according to the number of students participating and their skill level. They can return to more complicated topics as needed. PADI does not. The PADI Rescue Diver course has a closed structure that is not modified.

Theory section

You can log on to our e-learning website from the comfort of your home for the theoretical section.  The content is interactive, which will facilitate your learning and you can do it at your own pace. In addition to the audio-visual and written content, students must also complete knowledge reviews and pass a theory exam.

Rescue exercises

This part takes place in confined or shallow waters where rescue skills are practiced by the students.

Rescue scenarios

During these confined and open water practices, the diver will face simulated rescue situations. Thanks to them, students will test the knowledge acquired in the previous sections.

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  • Rescue Diver Certification




– Self-rescue

– Recognizing and managing distress in other divers

– Emergency management and equipment

– Emergency management

– Equipment considerations




Diving rescue exercises

– Self-rescue

– Troubled, panicked, and unconscious diver rescued at the surface

– Troubled, panicked, and unconscious diver rescued on the bottom

– Search for a lost diver

– Diver extrication methods

– Application of first aid to diver


Diving rescue scenarios

– Diver search

– Surface dragging of diver.




1. Prevention and Causes of Diving Accidents

a. Stress and psychological factors i.e. the panic syndrome in self and others

b. Physical conditioning

c. Equipment

d. Surface drowning syndrome


2. Diving Lifesaving

a. Self rescue

b. Diver assists

c. Surface and underwater rescues

d. Types of transports

e. In-water artificial respiration

f. Boat and shore exit techniques

g. Diver first aid

h. Review of oxygen (O₂) administration


3. Hyperbaric Injuries and Management

a. Information collection

b. Access to hyperbaric chambers


4. Accident Management

a. Access to emergency transport/assistance b. Accident reporting

c. Liability and related legal considerations




1.On the surface identify and assist a properly equipped skin or scuba

diver simulating:

a. Breathing difficulties

b. Tiredness

c. Leg cramp

d. Early panic symptoms


2. Diving rescue exercise to locate and bring to the surface a scuba diver simulating unconsciousness

to the surface from approximately 6 metres / 20 feet


3. Upon surfacing, transport the unconscious diver 50 metres / 150 feet to

shore or boat, simulating in-water rescue breathing


4. Upon reaching the shore or boat, with the assistance of 1 aide, remove

the diver from the water



  • Is the Rescue Diver course hard?

Rescue scuba diver training is physically and mentally demanding but also very rewarding.  It is necessary to pass some tests successfully to become a rescue diver.

Theoretical knowledge exam.


Demonstrate the ability to apply the basic rescue techniques learned effectively in open water.

Demonstrate knowledge and judgment concerning dive emergency planning and execution.


Demonstrate safely and efficiently that all requirements for a rescue diver are met in open water testing.


Perform the SDI scuba rescue diver knowledge exam on paper or eLearning properly.

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  • Rescue Diver Gear

In addition to the basic scuba equipment, which you can rent, with PADI you will need the dive accident management table and a mask for artificial respiration to complete your rescue diver gear.

SDI recommends adding to the rescue diver gear some cutting device or knife.


3. Rescue Diver Cost

Of course, you can do their PADI Rescue Diver course or SDI Rescue Dive Certification with Dressel. It is available in all our dive centers, but subject to a minimum number of participants. Interested? If you want to know the cost of the PADI Rescue Dive Certification course and the SDI Rescue Diver course, ask us!