At Aliwal Shoal Scuba, we offer the full range of PADI courses- from Open Water to Dive Master, with plenty of exciting specialties along the way. One of the most rewarding courses that we offer is the PADI Rescue Diver course, which teaches divers not only how to help themselves should they come into difficulties, but also how to help others. This course has considerable value on several levels- from building upon the general dive skills learned in earlier courses; to increasing a diver’s awareness of the marine environment; to teaching vitally important rescue skills that could one day mean the difference between life and death. Enrolling on the Rescue course is a good idea for any conscientious diver- especially those that frequently dive with family or friends, and want the peace of mind that comes from knowing what they would do in a diving emergency. It’s also a compulsory step on the road to becoming a professional diver, therefore, is essential for all those thinking of going on to become a divemaster or instructor. Although the content of the Rescue Diver course is often serious, those that choose to pursue this qualification will find that doing so is also great fun. The course involves role-play scenarios, independent thinking and good teamwork skills- and at Aliwal Shoal Scuba, we do our best to make sure that our Rescue Diver candidates have a great time earning their certification.

Perhaps surprisingly for a course that bridges the gap between being a recreational diver and becoming a professional one, the Rescue Diver course doesn’t actually entail that much diving. Instead, it is comprised of a theory section, and a practical section in which divers hone their in-water rescue skills. The theory takes much the same format as previous PADI courses and involves five knowledge reviews and a final exam. Divers will explore key topics including recognising diver stress and the psychology of rescue, and will be asked to create an emergency assistance plan relating to a dive site of their choice. The practical section of the Rescue Diver course is dedicated to learning and mastering those skills necessary both for self-rescue, and to help others in an emergency situation. This is the exciting part of the course, and the one that differs most from the rigid format of the Open Water and Advanced Open Water qualifications. Divers are expected to react at any time to simulated rescue scenarios, and must always be aware and ready to take action. The practical section is split into three subsections- practicing self-rescue skills, including using an alternate air source and relieving a cramp; perfecting ten Rescue Exercises, each of which relates to a possible real-life situation involving another person; and completing two Rescue Scenarios.

The Rescue Exercises teach candidates vital skills, including how to assist a panicked diver, how to search effectively for a missing diver, and how to administer in-water rescue breaths. The Rescue Scenarios test how well divers have learned these skills, requiring them to react to a simulated unresponsive diver on the surface, and a simulated unresponsive diver underwater exactly as they would do if it were actually happening. Candidates are then evaluated on their ability to follow the necessary rescue steps accurately from start to finish. The purpose of this course is to give divers the confidence to make a difference in a real life emergency, and also to give them the knowledge and awareness to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. Becoming a Rescue Diver is an excellent way to reduce the risks that are an inherent part of diving- both for yourself and for others. With any luck, you will never have to use your newly acquired rescue skills, but it’s reassuring to know that you have them should they ever be required. There are a few prerequisites to becoming a Rescue Diver. Those wishing to enrol on this course must be at least 12 years old, and have completed their PADI Adventure Diver certification with Underwater Navigation as a mandatory specialty.  Divers must also have completed EFR Primary and Secondary training within the last 24 months, or take their EFR course simultaneously with their Rescue course.

If you are interested in finding out for yourself exactly why the PADI Rescue Diver course is so rewarding, don’t hesitate to ask us for more information. You can contact us via Facebook, or send an email to

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