Just Another Day at the "Office"
I was teaching a class at Ulua Beach and as we were making our way back to shore I noticed a gentleman literally standing on the reef. It didn’t look like he planned to get off the reef anytime soon, so I decided to surface my class and let him know that by standing on the reef he was damaging the coral. Upon surfacing I realized that something wasn’t quite right. The man was having trouble breathing and his skin color was flushed. I asked him if everything was OK and he said he could not catch his breath. I took off my instructor hat and switched into Emergency First Response mode. I fully inflated my BC and had the man place his back on my chest. His breathing was somewhat labored, short and fast. I instructed him to try to relax, slow his breathing and take deeper breaths to which he responded “easy for you to say”. It was obvious that he was exhausted. As fate would have it Charlie from our store was on the dive for fun and was able to keep an eye on my students. I managed to get the man to shore and did a final check to make sure he would be OK. His wife was there and I felt confident that he would be fine.
This was just a small thing that fortunately didn’t turn bad. If I wasn’t there and another instructor had noticed the same thing, would they have responded ? Absolutely. If no instructors were around, would the result have been the same. Maybe, maybe not. I didn’t see any other snorkelers making a move to help this man out. The county wants to limit our access to beaches, limit our hours and in general limit our ability to do what we do. What they don’t seem to understand is that we provide a much bigger service then just teaching and guiding divers. This isn’t the only time one of us had rendered assistance to beach patrons at Ulua (or other beaches) and it won’t be the last, unless the county decides otherwise.