NSS-CDS Training Program

No sharing

Just stop. Do it now.

Let’s get right to the point:

Effective immediately, no NSS-CDS Instructor is to have students breathe from any regulator second stage other than their own. Nor are they to teach students to breathe from another diver’s regulator except in an actual out-of-gas emergency.

If we have to explain why, then you’ve clearly been living under a rock for the past two months. This is going to affect two things:

  • How we teach S-drills
  • How we teach and have students practice gas sharing.

The “new” S-drill

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. With one exception:

Continue to teach S-drills the way you always have, right up to the point students demonstrate their long hoses are full deployable and they can pass the second stage right-side-up, with the purge button uncovered. Then stop right there. No actual gas sharing from this point on.

To be honest, this isn’t as much of a loss as it may sound.

  • In a July 2019 survey of more than 350 certified cave divers, only one in ten so much as claims to do this before every dive. The number who actually do is likely less.
  • To the best of our knowledge, no cave diver has ever perished because he was unable to breathe from a functioning second stage provided by another diver. Students master that skill back in their Open Water Diver course.
  • The irony is, by slacking off on this, our divers may have actually saved a buddy’s life or at least prevented a teammate from getting really sick.

Wrong motivation. Right result.

Unsocial distancing

While we are on the topic of pre-dive discussions and gear checks, remind students to maintain a separation of at least 2 m/6 ft while reviewing dive plans or inspecting buddies’ equipment for leaks or other problems. That’s the length of one small adult alligator or cocodrillo.

Of course, if you conduct bubble checks or gear inspections underwater, it won’t matter how close you are.

Teaching gas sharing

This is where things get a little more complicated, but not by as much as you might think.

Again, continue to teach gas-sharing exercises the way you always have. The difference is, instead of having the receiver put the donor’s offered reg in his mouth, he clips it t a left-shoulder D-ring.

This does a few things:

  • It forces the donor to deploy the full length of his long hose.
  • The resulting hose routing will be largely the same as if the divers were actually sharing gas.
  • It leaves both of the receiver’s hands free to hold onto the donor’s hose, the guideline and, if need be, initiate line crossings.
  • If you want to increase the realism of this exercise, have the receiver switch from his primary to his backup second stage after clipping off the donor’s reg.

As we mentioned earlier, the things students most often have problems with when learning to share gas include:

  • Passing their second stage quickly while keeping it right-side-up and the purge button uncovered.
  • Maintaining physical contact with the hose, the buddy and, if need be, the guideline.
  • How they position themselves relative to one another.
  • Maintaining communication through touch-contact.

The one thing students do not seem to have problems with is breathing from an offered second stage. So, by eliminating this from gas-sharing exercises, we lose very little and help keep our students safer.