So, despite getting up at 5am to travel to London yesterday I managed to stay awake and learn lots of interesting stuff.
The Chairman (Marcus Allen) and the National Diving Officer (Sean Gribben) would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to everyone in the BSAC for supporting the organisation and especially to the all the volunteer instructors & committee members for all their hard work!
The lifesaver courses have been revised (new from January '08). We can now teach them in-branch. Instructors can 'self-certify' to teach the courses.
The is a wreck-appreciation course (in assocaition with the marine archaeology society) coming out, which teaches you how to know your way round shipwrecks, tips for diving safely and basic surveying info (it will count toward the NAS underwater archaeology surveying qualification).
The Advanced Nitrox course is to be re-written (middle of 2008) to take account of the fact the Nitrox is now part of Ocean and Sports. The new ANX course will include accelerated decompression. The ERD course will be heavily revised and possibly eliminated at the same time.
The Rescue 1st Aid course is now obsolete. This is inline with recommendations from the Resuscitation council who say it is basically too complicated for non-professional rescuers and no good unless you practise it every few weeks!
There is a new AED (automatic external defribulator) '200Volts, clear!' so you can sound like an extra from casualty - seriously, these are becoming a common 1st aid tool, some are suitable for use on boats (despite the salt water and electricity!) so it is another first aid skill that may come in useful.
It is strongly recommended that every qualified diver reviews their first aid skills (O2 admin and basic life support) every year within the branch. I will organise a session for this soon.
The Marine Conservation Society gave a talk and want all us divers to help them by joining up for the Marine Reserves Now! campaign - sadly the government have slowed down/put off new laws to sort out fishing and generally make the sea a sustainable place for the future. MCS want signatures and for people to write to their MPs. Look here for details: www.mcsuk.org It is the MCS 25th Anniversary soon and they were founded by divers! Also think about joining 'seasearch' and perhaps the club should organise a beach or underwater cleanup?
Buoyancy control problems are the single biggest type of accident now, and increasing while most others are decreasing! Please pay extra attention to good buoyancy control and rates of ascent while teaching and diving! There will be a new buoyancy workshop coming out with practical help for instructors to teach good buoyancy skills.
Otherwise the general trend in incidents is slowly downward (i.e. less people having problems) which is good - so keep up the good work promoting safe diving and safe instructing.
Awards were presented to several divers for bravery in rescuing people over the last year.
Expedition Grant Scheme
Grant of up to £1000 are available from BSAC for carrying out an expedition for unusual or challenging diving within a branch - anyone got an idea for somewhere to go? You have to write an application by December 31st, but last year only 6 clubs applied and they all got money!
As of 2008, all instructors will get a CD (annually I believe) of the latest instructor manual + visual aids etc. for their use each year. Free of charge.
This is for two reasons -
First to respect the effort instructors put in so that you don't have to shell out your hard earned cash for the manual anymore (after all- instructors spend enough time & money helping us all learn to dive!)
Second - so everyone has the latest course material and is teaching the latest courses, no excuse for being out of date now :-) Sean Gribben said 'please use the old ones as coasters or emergency signalling mirrors!'
Of course by moving to electronic formats, the BSAC saves money from printing and can make updates much more easily (no need to re-print thousands of paper copies and sell them before geting the next one in), which is good for us all as it keeps fees down.
BSAC has recognised it is not always good at comminucating and has appointed a new communications officer to help sort this out. Basically they want to try to inform everyone of what's going on and make sure information given to us is up to date and not conflicting anyhere. They also want an effective way of us giving them information & feedback too.
As part of this they would like everyone to sign up for the monthly 'bsac talk' email which has general news and also to the occasional 'ndc e-bulletin' which has more in depth info and announcements every now and again. Sign up and view old ones here..
BSAC Japan's 20th anniversary
For those who don't know: our training scheme is licensed and translated for use in dive centres in Japan and the money comes back to BSAC, helping to fund our club. They are expanding across the pacific region.
David Cummings as usual recounted some of the more silly and amusing incident reports, alongside his serious message about diver safety.
Trevor Norton (Marine Ecologist and author of diving books) had some hilarious reminiscences of his work with his barmy Ecology Professor and of course tried to sell his new book :-)
Martin Dean (Marine Archaeologist) presented some superb 3D 'multiscan' sonar images of shipwrecks - sadly the kit costs £500,000 so we won't see it on our boat any time soon, but they are selling a CD of images with information on popular dive sites (Scapa Flow first). There were some truly eerie and impressive sights.
Any questions, please ask!