PADI Inducted into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame

The PADI® organization joined the ranks of the most honored game-changers in the diving world as a 2017 inductee into the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (ISDHF). Founded in 2000 by the Ministry of Tourism of the Cayman Islands, the ISDHF recognizes individuals and groups who have contributed to the watersports industry, especially in the Cayman Islands. This year’s induction ceremony for PADI and fellow inductees was hosted at the Marriott Grand Cayman Beach Resort on 29 September 2017.

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PADI was honored as an “ISDHF Pioneer” that set the foundation for standardized scuba training programs. From PADI’s humble start in 1966, the organization has grown to be the world’s largest diver training organization of more than 133,000 dive professionals and 6,400 dive centers and resorts spread across 186 countries. PADI Members make diving accessible globally while putting a strong focus on conservation, community, underwater adventure and exploration through the Four Pillars of Change.

“On behalf of the entire PADI organization, we’re honored to have our work and continuing efforts recognized by the International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame. PADI’s mission is to be a force for good – to be the best in and for the world,” says President and CEO, Dr. Drew Richardson. “By empowering divers and engaging them more effectively at the local level globally, global change is inevitable. With every diver certification issued, PADI creates a growing number of ocean advocates to help defend and preserve the marine environment for generations to come.”

Be Best. Be PADITM. The Way the World Learns to Dive®.

Aligning with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative

The Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) is the first global alliance working to solve the worldwide problem of lost and abandoned fishing gear, known as ghost gear. Founded by World Animal Protection in 2015, the GGGI works to reduce the volume of ghost gear, remove and recycle it, and rescue entangled animals. By aligning with the GGGI, the PADI® family can help mobilize divers to look for and report harmful ghost gear that annually entangles and kills marine life including hundreds of thousands of whales, seals, turtles and birds.

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PADI joins GGGI as a member of its global solutions group to help develop new ways of mitigating the ghost gear problem. This complements the efforts of Project AWARE®, which actively works as a GGGI member to build evidence through its Dive Against Debris® program. Working together, the goal is to develop and implement projects to reduce and remove ghost gear from the ocean. This includes equipping PADI Divers with the knowledge and techniques to identify, report and, with proper training, safely remove ghost gear from waters, creating a global movement of millions of underwater eyes on the lookout for ghost gear.

More than 640,000 tons of fishing equipment is left in the world’s oceans each year, with reports showing that this debris affects more than 800 species of marine life. Many nets lost in global waters are enormous – often far bigger than football fields – trapping and killing marine life under the surface. Mostly made of plastic, ghost gear is also highly durable and can persist in the oceans for up to 600 years.

“We are happy to team up with the Global Ghost Gear Initiative,” says Drew Richardson, PADI Worldwide President and CEO. “PADI is committed to protecting the ocean planet and, with our unique underwater vantage, the dive community can play a significant role in locating marine debris. Along with Project AWARE, we look forward to working with the GGGI to empower and mobilize PADI Divers to join the fight against ghost gear.”

“We are proud to welcome PADI, with its millions of underwater eyes around the world looking out for ghost gear, as a pivotal new member for the GGGI,” says Elizabeth Hogan, U.S. Oceans and Wildlife Campaign Manager at World Animal Protection, the GGGI’s founding participant. “Ghost gear is a true global problem that knows no borders, and PADI will surely play a crucial role in helping us to locate, remove and recycle ghost gear, which causes such immense suffering for marine animals.”

To learn more about ghost gear and the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, visit www.ghostgear.org.

Be Best. Be PADITM. The Way the World Learns to Dive®.

 

Going PADI – The Best Decision

Switching training organizations is rarely an easy decision, but when a business becomes a PADI® Dive Center or Resort, the results can be truly outstanding. Last year, more dive centers and resorts joined PADI than ever before.  A case in point is Dive West, in Dallas, Texas, USA, that chose to go PADI in December 2015 and has since become a thriving PADI Retail and Resort Association member. Dive West’s management was motivated to join PADI after experiencing a decline in satisfactory customer service from another dive training agency.

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“Top-flight customer service is an essential element of the PADI Member experience,” says Drew Richardson, President and CEO of PADI Worldwide. “Life in a PADI Dive Center is often hectic, so quick and efficient service is imperative to allow dive center staff to deliver the same to their customers. That’s why PADI Regional Headquarters puts so much emphasis on exceptional customer service for members.”

Dive West finds PADI customer service outstanding. “PADI staff are always Johnny-on-the-spot,” says Brandi Farch, Dive West Store Manager. “We never have a problem accessing PADI services or reaching the right person on the phone.”

After joining, Dive West took advantage of PADI’s business consultation services, which has been an important factor in the store’s success. Like many businesses, Dive West had struggled to find the right pricing for their services and had been stuck on the same course pricing for more than eight years. However, trusting in the power of the PADI brand and PADI’s innovative marketing programs, Dive West instituted what they felt was more realistic, value-based course pricing and has thrived as a PADI Member ever since. “In less than two years with PADI, we’ve already exceeded the number of diver certifications we completed in the previous three years with our prior training agency” says Farch. “Joining PADI was the best decision we ever made for our store.”

Not surprised, Richardson says, “The PADI System of diver education brings student divers through the doors of PADI Dive Centers every day around the world. PADI’s proven marketing strategies and innovative marketing tools, such as a free annual marketing tool kit, also bring in customers.”

“We love the marketing tool kit and look forward to it each year,” says Farch. “I’m excited to decorate the store with all the new banners, flags and other point-of-purchase items, and I put it all up as soon as the kit arrives.”

“We’ve also enjoyed an increase in both walk-in and drive-by traffic since we switched to PADI. I believe this is partly attributable to our PADI-designed window wrap,” Farch explains. “Previously, we had a simple marquee sign that said ‘Dive West’ on our storefront. Many people didn’t even realize we were a dive shop. However, the window wrap dramatically changed all that. Now we’ve got ‘LEARN TO DIVE’ in great big letters, the PADI logo and other attractive graphics on our windows. People know we’re a dive shop and they drop in to check us out.”

Farch also appreciates the name recognition PADI enjoys. “People recognize PADI; we no longer have to spend all day explaining the difference between the various dive training organizations to potential customers.”

Closely tied to this recognition is the increased availability of instructors. “One of the best things about switching to PADI has been the increase in the number of qualified dive professionals who can work for us,” says Farch. “We used to have a lot of trouble getting instructors; nobody wanted to pay the money to become an instructor for our former training organization because it simply wasn’t beneficial enough for them. Now, we not only have seven or eight PADI Instructors on staff, we are also growing our own divemasters. In fact, we’re nearly finished training our first class of four PADI Divemaster candidates.”

Be Best. Be PADITM. The Way the World Learns to Dive.

 

Help Divers Protect Their Skin Without Harming Coral Reefs

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According to a recent study, even a tiny amount of toxic sunscreen can kill coral. Unfortunately, popular sunscreens made by Banana Boat, Coppertone, Neutrogena and others contain oxybenzone, a chemical proven to be hazardous to reefs. Toxic sunscreen has become such a problem, Hawai’i may pass a law banning sunscreen made with oxybenzone.

Unfortunately, choosing a product labeled biodegradable or coral reef safe isn’t enough. Chemicals toxic to coral such as butylparaben, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidine, camphor and the infamous oxybenzone (also known as benzophenone-3 or BP-3) have been found in products labeled coral reef safe. Before you restock your sunscreen, take a few seconds to ensure it doesn’t contain the ingredients above, or choose a product from our vetted list below.

The sun protection products below received high marks from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and consumers on Amazon.com. These are the least-hazardous sunscreen products on the market (according to EWG’s 2017 research) that also received a minimum 3.5 star score from consumers on Amazon.com. You can view the specific products and links to consumer reviews on our earlier blog post: The Best Natural Sunscreen for Scuba Divers and Snorkelers.

Reef-friendly sunscreen manufacturers – view wholesale info online

Badger Balm

Stream2Sea

WaxHead

Reef-friendly sunscreen manufacturers – contact for wholesale info

Blue Lizard

Beyond Coastal

BurnOut – phone 800-798-7970 or email shona@burnoutsun.com

All Terrain (natural sunscreen and natural bug repellent) call 978-886-3218 or email David Kuykendall dkuykendall@allterrainco.com

Note: no sunscreen has been proven to be 100% reef-safe, but sunscreens made with titanium oxide or zinc oxide do not appear to be harmful to corals (source: NOAA). Chemical processes are used to create any sunscreen, even mineral-based ones.

The best solution for divers and snorkelers is to cover up rather than slather on. A rashguard with UV protection is a better environmental choice than any sunscreen. Choose a long-sleeve version for maximum coverage.

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By promoting reef-friendly alternatives to toxic sunscreens, dive operators can reduce their impact on our ocean planet and support the Ocean Health Pillar (one of PADI’s Four Pillars of Change). That said, threats such as coastal pollution, overfishing, and sedimentation are a greater threat to coral reefs than sunscreen. PADI encourages all Members to support the conservation efforts of Project AWARE through donations and education.

The Magic of Multiple-Level Dive Training

Written by John Kinsella

PADI dive training

It’s not too often you come across something that gets absolutely no hits on Google. Multiple-Level Training is one of those things. Where you will find it is under Organization in the Teaching Techniques section of PADI’s Guide to Teaching. If it’s been a while since you checked it out, take a moment to read it again, especially if you want to boost your Divemaster and IDC enrollment.

The basic idea is to have several different levels of training happening at the same time and at the same place. Done right, multiple-level training is not only an efficient use of resources; it’s a powerful way to motivate existing divers to consider going pro.

The key is planning and careful scheduling (there’s a great sample schedule in the Guide to Teaching) and to build in time for divers to mingle and socialize. It also helps to have a few certified assistants. Consider these strategies to maximize the cross promotional benefits of multiple-level training:

Have all divers together for the area orientation. Let everyone know what’s going on and take some time to introduce the divers to each other: “Welcome to the dive site, we have three activities going on this morning, the Divemaster Mapping exercise, the Advanced Open Water Diver Navigation Dive, and Open Water Dive One.” Cover the usual points, make sure to mention who is doing what (by name), then split up into individual course groups to finish the briefings.

Keep people moving and don’t waste their time. In this example, you could overview the Divemaster Mapping exercise seamlessly with the area orientation before breaking up the groups. This has the benefit of clearly highlighting an interesting part of Divemaster training to both the AOW and OW divers. Then have a certified assistant keep an eye on the Open Water Divers while they assemble their gear and get ready for your predive brief. Meanwhile you’re running through the (detailed) brief for the AOW Navigation dive and setting the divers up to practice their navigation patterns on land. (Which will certainly get the Open Water Divers attention.)

Make good use of your own time. Once you’ve covered the AOW brief, have those divers assemble and set up their gear and present themselves for the dive at a specific time. Head over to the entry point where the OW Divers are ready to go and your certified assistants have the shot line already positioned. Enter, run the dive and when you exit you find the AOW divers ready to go. You supervise that dive from the surface and while the AOW divers are breaking down their gear post dive, you debrief the OW divers before you debrief them.

By now the Divemaster candidates are wrapping up their mapping exercise and you check with them before everyone settles down to enjoy lunch.

All you have to do now is sit back and let the buzz do your marketing work for you.

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Why Paperwork Matters

PADI Instructor

There’s an old joke that starts, “what does P.A.D.I. stand for?” Think you know the punchline?

Paperwork

And

Diving

In-between

If that wasn’t your guess, read on to learn about common paperwork mistakes and what can happen if paperwork isn’t done completely and correctly. This article will also answer common questions like, “what happens if a student answers ‘yes’ on their medical questionnaire then wants to change it to a ‘no’?”

Why Is Paperwork So Important?

  • It informs divers of their responsibility to be honest in disclosing and evaluating their medical condition and the risks of diving – even when operators do their very best to provide an enjoyable and relatively safe experience.
  • It establishes the guidelines all divers are expected to follow when participating in this transformational activity.
  • Paperwork is used as evidence to help defend dive pros and businesses if an incident occurs and legal action is filed.
  • Complete paperwork is a requirement of your professional liability insurance policy

What Can Happen If Paperwork is Overlooked
Here’s a hypothetical scenario that’s based on real life:

An open water student signs up for class and turns in his paperwork. The instructor does not closely check the documents and misses the student’s “yes” answer to a history of heart disease and high blood pressure.

During the first open water dive, the student has a heart attack and dies. The medical examiner says the diver’s heart was so bad, he could have had heart attack while sitting in his recliner.

The instructor submits an incident report to PADI along with the student’s paperwork. Meanwhile, the student’s family files a lawsuit.

During a quality management review, the failure to properly review paperwork is discovered along with other issues. The insurance company denies coverage because the instructor violated the Warranty of the Policy – obtain physician’s approval if “yes” answer. The instructor must now fight the lawsuit without insurance, and it could have turned out differently if more attention was paid to the paperwork.

The Most Common Paperwork Mistakes

Pat Fousek, Quality & Risk Management Executive, explains key pieces of paperwork, common paperwork issues, and answers frequently asked questions.

Liability Release – This document explains the risks of scuba diving to the participant and is designed as a contract. The diver agrees to assume the risks and accepts something can and may go wrong. None of us are perfect, and when entering a foreign environment with life support equipment, things do happen.

– Ensure all the blanks are filled in properly before the diver signs the form. This can be done with a stamp (do not obscure any other text), electronically, or filled in by the diver. Do not alter the document after the student signs the form.

–  Confirm the form is signed and dated properly. If the student has questions about the form, suggest they consult with an attorney. Do not attempt to interpret the form yourself, even if you are an attorney.

Non-agency Acknowledgment – This form explains to your customers that PADI Member businesses are not owned by PADI, that dive pros are not employees of PADI, and PADI does not and cannot control the day-to-day operations and decisions of your staff and your business. PADI is not involved in the decisions about whether or not to dive a particular day, the dive site, or what staff members are assigned for a particular duty. That is your business.

The non-agency acknowledgement form is the one most commonly forgotten by PADI Members even though it’s incorporated into the student record file and all the individual liability releases on the PADI Pros’ Site. Before you make copies of a form, please ensure you have the most up-to-date version.* We continually see forms and student record files that are 10 years old or older. As with other forms, be sure to fill in the blanks properly, and ensure the form is signed and dated.

* Current version of student record file (product no. 10058) – version: 5.01 from 6 Jan 2016

Safe Diving Practices Statement – This document is designed to inform divers of their responsibility to dive safely – not only while a student diver, but after certification as well. The diver’s signature on this form confirms s/he is aware of their responsibility as a diver, and failure to adhere to safe practices could place the diver at increased risk. Again, all blanks should be completed, and the form must be signed and dated.

The Medical Statement discusses the risks of diving and asks the diver to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions. A ‘yes’ answer requires the approval of a physician before participating in any in-water activities. The form also advises the diver to consult with a physician “on a regular basis” after completing the course. Always have the diver answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (not just draw a line through all the blanks), sign and date the form.

Invariably, one of your divers will answer ‘yes’ to a question on the medical statement and then want to discuss it with you, or change the answer to ‘no,’ – especially after a friend reminds the diver s/he’ll have to get a physician’s approval. Bottom line: there should be no discussion between the instructor and the diver about the medical statement.

If the diver chooses to change their answer, this is allowed, but the diver must initial and date the change. Think carefully about the reasons for a diver changing his or her answer.

  • Was it a simple oversight? If someone who is biologically male answers yes to, ‘are you pregnant or trying to become pregnant?’ it’s acceptable for the diver to change their answer. Be sure the diver initials and dates the change.
  • Did the diver truly misunderstand the question? If a diver initially answers ‘yes’ there must be a reason for it. You can discuss the situation with the diver, but the prudent thing to do is counsel the diver to be truthful about medical issues for the benefit of their loved ones, their dive buddy, and their own health and safety.

We often get questions about adult divers who had tubes in their ears as a child, but now think it’s not an issue. Another common one: the diver uses an inhaler during the months a particular pollen is active, but isn’t using the inhaler currently. In both of these situations, ask yourself: are you the proper person to verify the diver’s medical condition and physical fitness to dive?
If you have questions about PADI paperwork, or any of the information above, please contact your local PADI Office. Current versions of all the forms described above can be accessed on the PADI Pros Site (padi.com/mypadi) under the Training Essentials menu. Choose Forms and Applications from the dropdown. Using Ctrl + F can help you search the page and quickly find form you want.

12 Activities to Keep Divers Active and Increase Business

Written by Megan Denny

Many people become divers because they’re curious about the underwater world. But often it’s the friendships and camaraderie that keep people diving, taking trips and furthering their dive education.

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The social aspects of scuba are also key to growing and maintaining a successful dive business – divers sharing their passion for scuba with family and friends is what fuels our industry. Scuba marketing trends come and go, but there’s always been one constant: word of mouth. Divers invite friends, who make new friends and they all go diving.

Successful dive centers continually bring customers together through diving and nondiving activities. If you aren’t yet running events where divers and nondivers can mingle, choose an idea from the list below.

Family and Friends Discover Scuba® Diving Event

Host a friends and family Discover Scuba Diving (DSD®) event. International Friendship Day (Sunday, 30 July) would be a perfect time, but you can hold events like this anytime. Promote the event by emailing past student divers a free Discover Scuba Diving voucher, or creating a social media post for your event and inviting followers to tag or share with friends.

Consider offering an incentive for divers to refer friends to get certified. Some popular offers include a $25 US gift card, free rental gear, or a free t-shirt.

Here are some additional ideas to jump-start your dive center’s social calendar.

Diving Activities

  • Host a weekly or monthly fun dive followed by a picnic, BBQ or pizza party where kids and spouses are invited.
  • Challenge new divemasters to bring in two friends to do a DSD. The divemaster gains assisting experience and you may get two new divers.
  • If you have easy pool access, start a birthday party program for children or adults. Grown ups can have a private DSD experience for their friends, and kids can enjoy Bubblemaker®.
  • Start a women’s dive group with regular fun dives, DSDs, ReActivate® sessions, or a ladies’ weekend getaway.

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Nondiving Activities

  • Each month (or quarter) celebrate all divers who earned a certification.
  • Invite VIP customers to a thank-you party and give them a pair of free DSD vouchers to share with friends.
  • Schedule a PADI Pro Night.
  • Host a travel night and ensure your most gregarious travelers attend.
  • Try a Dive Against Debris® event during the weekend, or at night during a full moon.
  • Celebrate the dive center’s birthday and staff milestones.
  • Start a year-end awards tradition (most accomplished, best sunburn, coolest critter photo, etc.).
  • Throw a shark-themed or Shark Week party.

Friends with Health Benefits

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.”

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Help your customers strengthen their social bonds and find new dive buddies at shop-sponsored diving and nondiving events. When divers have friends to dive with, they dive more and that’s also good for the health of your business.