NAUI Leaders Converge on Rescue Workshop

Over a weekend in October 1-2, 2022 a group of approximately 30 NAUI Leaders and prospective leaders attended a “NAUI Leadership Rescue Workshop.” The workshop was a collaborative effort organized by: Frank Degnan 7165, Scott Chapman 49776, Andrew Morgan 52002, Sloane Lofy 57154, and Nick Nechay 60788. Attendees spanned quite a range of years from the NAUI Old Guard represented by Kim Reisenbichler 5564 and Diana Steller 13564, to candidates currently enrolled in NAUI Instructor Training Courses and Dive Master Courses. Dive Safety Officers from a number of the local organizations also participated.


Surprisingly, given the number of NAUI personalities involved, there was as much actual rescue practice taking place as talking.


The immediate objectives for the workshop were threefold. First and foremost to provide an opportunity for the local NAUI leaders to refresh personal skills in terms of performing a rescue and evaluating a rescue. Second was to provide an opportunity for discussion of various rescue techniques and instructional approaches. The hope was to arrive at some consensus for a “community standard for basic techniques and the instruction of those techniques.” Again, not surprisingly, there was plenty of discussion and not quite as much consensus. The third and final objective was to develop a current network of NAUI Leaders in the area. This local NAUI network should foster a sense of community and promote an esprit de corps among the members.


The practical component of the workshop was intended to facilitate the participants getting what they wanted out of the weekend and was “loosely organized” as follows:

  • No one claimed to be the ‘expert in rescue” and everyone was encouraged to share their philosophies and techniques.
  • To establish a possible common framework for a “Rescue”, prior to the Rescue Workshop participants were provided with an outline of the “Rescue Evaluation Criteria” used by myself and other local Course Directors and Instructor Trainers.
  • All Open Water activities took place at Del Monte Beach in Monterey.
  • A “Beach Master” remained on the beach throughout all water activities. The “Beach Master” was charged with making sure everyone in the vicinity knew this was training and also with initiating a diver recall if necessary.


Saturday, October 1

  • Saturday morning was devoted primarily to Rescue of an “unresponsive, non-breathing scuba diver” from the bottom to the surface.
  • Participants were divided into two groups, those who wanted to discuss rescue prior to entering the water to train, and those who wanted to enter the water and initiate the drills with no prior discussion.
  • Within the 2 larger groups (prior discussion vs. no prior discussion) participants were instructed to break into groups of 4 so that everyone would have the opportunity to act as: Rescuer, Evaluator, Victim, Gear Shagger.
  • To facilitate establishing work stations and weight system retrieval, each group was provided with a surface float and lines.
  • To maximize repetitions, some groups focused on surfacing the diver, stripping gear and simulating rescue breathing. Other groups found it worthwhile to incorporate a tow.
  • Staff members circulated among the groups to answer questions and identify common themes.
  • Saturday morning concluded with a mini workshop on “exiting an unresponsive diver.”
  • Saturday afternoon the workshop moved to the Bechtel Education Center Forum at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for presentations by:

           -Monterey Fire Department and Pacific Grove Hyperbaric Chamber

           -Monterey County Sheriff Dive Team

           -California State Parks Beach Life Guards


Sunday, October 2

  • This day was devoted primarily to the surface components of rescue.
  • Initial drills focused on beach-to-beach rescue of an unresponsive, non breathing skin diver/snorkeler. If a participant desired “help on the beach” that was provided and the primary rescuer was designated to control the rescue.
  • The second part of the morning participants worked with surface flotation rescue devices such as “Boogie Boards.” For some, this was a new experience.
  • After the conclusion of the water work, a de-briefing was held on the beach.
  • The group then moved to London Bridge Pub for lunch and more discussion.


Ultimately, the organizers considered this workshop to be a “pilot program”, testing both the desire for such a workshop and the efficacy of the collaborative conduct of the training scenarios. We initially hoped for 10-12 participants and far exceeded those expectations. Based on the results, we plan to conduct a Rescue Workshop annually. Future plans include inviting all active Scuba Leaders regardless of certification agency, and also reaching out to include any active divers who wish to participate. While the intent is for future workshops to remain free of charge, participants will be encouraged to make a donation to the Pacific Grove Hyperbaric Chamber. Hopefully workshops such as this will make diving safer and more enjoyable for the entire diving community.


Anyone who is interested in hosting similar workshops please feel free to reach out to Frank Degnan NAUI # 7165, he will be happy to share his materials with you.