Skills practice for rebreather divers should be considered essential after any break.

It is generally accepted that to safely dive with a rebreather requires a higher level of competence than open circuit equipment. All skills degrade over time so the prolonged periods of lockdown make it likely that there are a substantial number of rebreather divers who have experienced skill fade.

The NDC Technical Group have prepared guidance for refresher skills aimed at supporting divers to get into the correct frame of mind and encouraging them to practice the core skills that they need. The following structured approach is recommended for any rebreather diver preparing to return to the water following any break.

Building the unit

Equipment should be checked to ensure it has been maintained and stored in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations (see rebreather equipment guidance).

Correct packing of the scrubber and checklists greatly improve safety.

Divers should use the appropriate manufacturer’s / training agency videos and checklists to make sure they are following the most up to date procedures.

Buddy considerations

By thinking about what needs to be in a brief for their buddy on either open or closed-circuit, will help focus the diver’s thoughts on what is needed and get the diver in the right frame of mind.

It is useful to conduct the dive with another experienced rebreather diver or someone willing to be patient whilst the skills are conducted.

Fault scenarios

Thinking through a number of emergency scenarios will help the diver get back into the mindset of what is required should something go wrong.

What steps are involved in the following:

  • Bailout
  • Low/high oxygen (with or without a warning)
  • CO2 hit
  • Cell error

The dive

The dive should be full kit, in either confined or open water but no more than 10m deep.

  • Weight check
    • No bailout cylinder(s) on
    • Add bailout cylinder(s)
    • Bubble & linearity checks
    • Diluent flush
      • Maintain buoyancy*
      • Remove/refit bailout cylinders
      • Static bailout
        • Close mouthpiece and swap to bailout regulator
        • Set handset / computer to OC and select correct gas
        • Return to loop
        • Reset handset / computer to CCR and select correct gas
        • Bailout ascent of between 2-4m depending on depth at start
          • Set handset / computer to OC and select correct gas
          • Vent counter-lungs on ascent
          • Hold mid-water stop 3 mins
          • Return to loop
          • Reset handset / computer to CCR and select correct gas

*All skills should be practised neutrally buoyant and avoid touching any reference points.

CCR skill refresher video

The NDC Technical Group have prepared a presentation to support CCR skills refresher. The content is based on the AP Vision unit but the principles can be adapted to practise with other models and units as appropriate.  

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