The DDI Pro Training Course has now been running successfully for 10 years. The DDI Pro Training course is aimed at dive professionals (DM and above) to educate and train in the niche of disability diving. Our goal at DDI is to get as many dive professionals comfortable and equipped in disability diving in order to maximise the chances for everyone to dive, no matter what the disability. Our Pro Training Courses are hosted all over the world and in many different languages in order to achieve our goal.
Back in November 2019, a group of 8 professional divers with all different backgrounds undertook the DDI Pro Training Course in The Netherlands, with our Instructor Trainer Bart Den Ouden. We reached out to one of the participants to showcase his personal views on the course to best educate our interested readers.
Eric Bovelander (CMAS, SSI, DDI) started diving recreationally back in 1976 and started on his Professional journey in 2019. Eric has had a long history with DDI. He has completed both the DDI Assistant Course with DDI Instructor Bert Kruis and in November completed his Pro Training certification with Bart Den Ouden.
Erics interest in disabled diving stems from his personal experiences. For 7 years, Eric served his country in the Dutch Army and because of which, suffered multiple forms of complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and underwent heart surgery. He has since undergone rehabilitation and has learnt a valuable insight into how to best work with limitations and disabilities.
The word ‘cannot’ is not in my dictionary (Eric Bovelander, DDI Instructor)
Erics personal experiences inspired him to work with people with disabilities by assisting with Veterans Dive Team Holland, founded by DDI Instructor; Bert Kruis. This was Erics first introduction to DDI.
A: I picked DDI because they are specialised in working with disabled divers. Also, the Veterans Dive Team Holland use the DDI syllabus and support their DMs and Instructors to do the same. Here in Holland, it is also possible to work with another organisation but I preferred the DDI method. In my humble opinion, DDI is more complete.
A: The theoretical part of the course is various and very complete. It involves sections educating on most disabilities I have seen in diving, and more. The practical part of the course was good, usable and adaptive for working with disabled divers. We also had a practical clinic where we assisted in a Try Scuba Dive for wounded soldiers in collaboration with the Veterans Dive Team Holland, the National Military Revalidation Center and BNMO. I am privileged with the experience in the school I was working in perviously and I already had quite a lot of previous experience with disabled students.
A: The practical test during the Try Scuba Dive clinic was great. This was my third time, the other 2 clinics I only assisted. I was teaching a former military soldier with PTSD and his daughter. When we started, you could see the fear in the eyes of the father and the concern about him by his daughter but after the Try Scuba Dive, they were both smiling, happy and proud of what they did together. That makes me happy also. Mission accomplished and another open door for this father to explore his new opportunity. I hope he will continue diving.
A: I was happily surprised by the amount of knowledge in the DDI Instructor Manual, the knowledge of my Instructor Trainer Bart Den Ouden and the combination of theory and practical. It was a good learning experience. During the course I met new people from other dive schools, we learnt from each other and worked together. I would suggest that people doing this course are able to speak English and read about the different types of disabilities as all disabilities ask for a different approach.
2020 has already seen some exciting activity. We have a growing list of Pro Trainings happening all over the world. We are also launching newly edited manuals and training materials for our students and pros which will be available after March this year. All new manuals will be translated into Greek, Romanian, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. If you are fluent in a language and could help us translate the training manuals for maximum accessibility, please get in touch by emailing us at [email protected]
From Erics story, you can see how important and influential diving can be for ex military and combat veterans, especially those suffering from PTSD, amputees and other combat injuries. Diving can provide veterans with a new sense of freedom, calmness and control. Diving works its magic on all of us differently and we all enjoy it for a variety of reasons but the use of scuba diving to those with PTSD or other physical or mental disabilities could be life changing. As Eric put it
Every dive I make is giving me pleasure. I love the sound of “silence” under water and watching the lifeforms in lakes, sea and oceans. (Eric Bovelander, DDI Instructor)