Good reading. I extracted the important portions for those who are not inclined to read the whole article.At the OZTek conference in May, Dr. Andrew Fock, head of hyperbaric medicine at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, said that his best estimate, from all existing data, is that rebreathers are 10 times as risky as open circuit scuba in terms of fatalities. In other words you are 10 times more likely to die on a rebreather than on open circuit scuba.
PADI is now marketing rebreathers to recreational divers.
As you know, they hosted a meeting at the annual Diving Equipment & Marketing Association (DEMA) show last year for all the rebreather manufacturers to spec out their requirements for a Ďrecreationalí rebreather, the so-called Type R machines, as opposed to units suitable for tech divers, (Type T machines). They are in the process of rolling out their training program for recreational divers. To qualify, divers must have logged 25 dives with 10 of them on nitrox. They also launched rebreather courses for tech divers.
The situation seems very different than when PADI entered the tech diving market because back then, in 2000, there was a burgeoning market. Currently, there isnít a market for recreational rebreathers; PADI is hoping to create one.
My guess is that PADI is watching its revenues decline, with fewer certifications and continuing drop out rate, and theyíre trying to figure out how to pay for their infrastructure. So they are asking the question, whatís the best growth segment and everybody is telling them its rebreathers.
But thereís really not a recreational market? All right, letís create one. Weíve got enough strength to do it.
So with PADIís marketing muscle, manufacturers are going to create Type R-machinesóthere is already at least one on the marketóand PADI centers and instructors will be there to train recreational divers in their use. Other agencies like the International Association of Nitrox & Technical Divers (IANTD) also offer recreational rebreather courses.
But basically PADI is creating this market, developing thousands of students who will be learning on a unit that has very little operational time. Thatís problematic in my opinion. I appreciate the fiscal urgencies more than most but that doesnít justify this sort of risk. Whatís more is that they are targeting the bottom of the market. I mean these are the divers that we see putting their regulator on backwards. Thatís the market theyíre going after. Thatís who they think is the customer. I strongly disagree with this strategy and I think itís going to have negative consequences for the industry.Because they risk leading the innocent to bad outcomes?
I have always been a champion of peopleís individual rights, even when I think what they are doing is damn fool stupid. But, I strongly believe you have a responsibility to limit the exposure of people who donít know better. And that applies to organizations as well as individuals. Itís one thing to do something yourself, but itís another to promote it, because now youíve taken on a different mantle of responsibility and I take that as a much stronger responsibility.