When I first heard about the Branch SADS qualification I was quite sceptical and I suspect I wasn’t alone in this view. It seemed to me that there wasn’t much point to the qualification as it was relatively restricted in what they could supervise. I was also concerned that the Dive Leader qualification produced divers too junior to be given that level of responsibility. Before arriving at JSSADC in July 13, I also hadn’t encountered a BSADS ‘in the wild’ so approached the first BSADS cse with a certain degree of trepidation.
Having spent 18 months in post, I’m now pleased to report that I’m now a complete convert to the idea of the BSADS qualification. Not only do I believe that they offer a very viable solution to the long running shortage of SADS at club/branch level but they’re also starting to make their presence felt acting as deputy SADS on expeds. Those of you who follow the various service diving groups on facebook will have seen plenty of evidence of both of these.
The first concern I had was over the actual utility of the qualification and what the BSADS could supervise. The key to this is for clubs and branches to ensure they assemble and maintain a comprehensive branch site register which then allows the BSADS to supervise diving at any of those sites. The rationale behind this is that the BSADS has either already dived the site themselves or is able to find other experienced divers in the club who can provide them with the necessary information. BRd 2806(5) will offer a number of improvements to this process by aligning the date for branch site register update to that of SADS registration (1 Oct) and removing the 48hr limit. It will also clarify the numbers of divers who can be supervised; those who are Advanced Diver BSADS will also be able to supervise greater numbers than those who are Dive Leaders BSADS.
An element of the BSADS qualification that I initially overlooked is that they are able to deputise for an ESADS on expeditions. Given the usual difficulties of locating an Advanced Diver or second ESADS then this is a very useful capability and one that I have seen being regularly used.
My concern over whether a Dive Leader was capable of acting as a SADS is also one that I have had to revise. At JSSADC, we see every BSADS who gains the qualification and they’re mentored by exactly the same SADS Assessors who examine ESADS candidates. As you’d expect, the start level at the beginning of the course can be variable but by the end we’re very happy that they’re up to the level required.
Perhaps the key test of the BSADS qualification is how it would be perceived by service divers and whether it would be seen as worth having. When it was introduced, another expected benefit was that it would lead more people to attempt the ESADS assessment. In order to check on both of these we’ve been keeping track of the statistics which can be seen in the table above. Although it is still early days , I’d say that things seem positive on both fronts with the reversal of the downward ESADS trend particularly welcome.
For anyone who is interested in attending a BSADS cse then you can find full details here. Alternatively, those who attend the ESADS development course also gain the BSADS qualification.