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RAID - what does the new diver training organisation bring?

Diving – once accessible only to a few, is now within reach of everyone and in almost every place in the world. It all started with the invention of the breathing apparatus, because it is thanks to this apparatus that diving has become so widely available. With the growing interest in the underwater world and
Published: April 29, 2019 - 19:54
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 18:07
RAID – what does the new diver training organisation bring?

Diving – once accessible only to a few, is now within reach of everyone and in almost every place in the world. It all started with the invention of the breathing apparatus, because it is thanks to this apparatus that diving has become so widely available. With the growing interest in the underwater world and its exploration, it was only natural that many organisations were established to train and certify divers.

Of course in diving (as everywhere) there are industry leaders, but in recent years many smaller organisations have also emerged. The reason is a growing dissatisfaction with what the diving industry currently offers in terms of diver education. One of the newest training agencies is RAID – Rebreather Association of International Divers.

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From rebreather to scuba

RAID was born in Sweden, in 2007. Poseidon needed a training platform to launch their rebreather “Discovery MK VI”. All because none of the existing agencies wanted to take responsibility for a “recreational rebreather”. However, as it happens in life, other agencies wanted a piece of the action. There was a conflict of interest with the manufacturer owning the training agency and Barry Coleman took control of RAID.

Unfortunately the power of the majors deserted Barry, leaving him with an extremely small and poorly funded agency which he kept alive by offering very high quality programmes to a small number of instructors. However, determination and a desire to make a difference in the diving world, brought Barry together with Paul Toomer and Jim Holliday and together they set about launching the ‘new’ RAID.

Time for RAID!

The name has remained the same and comes from an earlier incarnation of the organisation training technical divers on closed circuit. Just a few years later the offer was extended to include open circuit training programmes available to any diver. Additionally, RAID has something unique, something that other federations don’t have – Paul Toomer, an experienced world-class diver who has achieved instructor status with PADI, SSI, TDI, SDI, IANTD, PSAI, DAN, BSAC… He knows all these agencies inside out and, as he says, many of the things he disliked about these agencies are absent from RAID.

Also many of the good things that these agencies provide can be found in RAID. Today RAID is an internationally recognised agency operating in over 80 countries. It is a full member of the RSTC (Recreational Scuba Training Council). It is ISO / EUF certified, a member of RESA (Rebreather Education Safety Council) and RTC (Rebreather Training Council) and is also approved by local government agencies around the world, including the HSE in the UK.

This sounds very promising and encouraging, but what can RAID really offer us that other organisations don’t?

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Highest standards

First and foremost, the organisation was created by divers for divers. RAID has highly qualified and experienced instructors who are passionate about diving and are the living face of the organisation. High standards of training will make you feel confident and, most importantly, safe underwater. RAID balances quality with quantity. The most important and necessary skills are taught already at the basic level and do not have to be taught in additional specializations, as it is the case with competitors. If someone wants to become an Open Water 20 diver, why does the dive industry insist on additional specialty training?

RAID instructors work on these basics with all students, especially buoyancy control, already on the basic course. Because how can someone be offered a specialisation to learn such an essential and basic skill? The RAID believes that a diving course should last as long as you master each skill. According to RAID, buoyancy, underwater diving position and movement techniques are the foundation of diving and every course from beginner to instructor, starts with honing these skills. This benefits not only the individual and the industry as a whole, but also the oceans and marine life we all love so much.

According to RAID, the measure of their success is not the number of divers their instructors train, but the level they represent. In the name of the principle “earn your certification” rather than “buy your certification”. You want to be a good diver? Learn from the best!

There are no shortcuts in RAID during training. The most popular entry level programme, Open Water 20, mentioned earlier, requires more hours in the water for skill development than is normally required by industry standards. In open water, RAID requires a minimum of 2hrs underwater over a minimum of 4 dives, but this is the full minimum. If our student needs more time underwater, they just get it, not buy extra. During training, the reduction in repetition of already mastered skills, combined with increased buoyancy, leads to divers increasing their skills while maintaining confidence and safety.

This general philosophy is maintained by RAID specialists on all courses. After completing the course, RAID divers actually dive alone, without a ‘mentor’, in a partner system. Can you find this anywhere else where divers are too scared to go off on their own? Furthermore, RAID instructor candidates must have min. 100h underwater or min. 200 dives, before taking part in the instructor development programme.

According to RAID, 100 dives averaging 20 minutes each does not constitute a complete instructor. Additionally, at RAID it is possible to learn in different configurations, e.g. sidemount, on all courses. The simple reason for this is that no single configuration fits every diver in every environment, so RAID relies on flexibility.

Trust but control

At each level of training, both the instructor and students confirm completion of pool exercises and open water dives. This is an integral process of the online training and system. After each exercise that has taken place in the water, you go to your profile on www.diveRAID.com or via the app, and mark which exercises you have completed correctly. This is also confirmed by your instructor and if any exercise during the training process was not completed, you can clearly and transparently see what you still need to complete before the certification process.

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Learn where you want

A big advantage of the organisation is that it moves with the times. RAID has a modern approach to training and has developed an extensive online learning system and all textbooks are electronic. This means no more books and no more waste paper on the shelves – together with RAID, take care of the environment. The online system allows you to learn at your own pace, wherever you want – at home, on the bus… anywhere! All online courses are automatically updated, meaning you’ll never have outdated material. All RAID students and graduates have free lifetime access to their profile including certificates and dive logs.

Another advantage is that you don’t have to wait weeks or months for your certificate, as RAID e-cards are issued immediately upon completion of the course and a plastic certificate is just an option. RAID also believes that although theory is very important, spending more time in the water will produce better and safer divers. By focusing on the knowledge and skills required for each course, theory is simpler and much less time consuming, allowing the organisation to set higher minimum standards for in-water training. The time that you would have to spend in class at the dive centre will be spent in the water.

Diving application for your phone

That’s not all. At RAID, they’ve gone one step further… They’ve created and marketed a RAID phone app – Learn To Scuba, which you can easily download to your phone for free. It is the most advanced interface of an integrated training application and website. All the courses that RAID has to offer can be completed through this app. As soon as we launch a new course, it is immediately available in it. In addition, it works in both ON-LINE and OFF-LINE modes.

The app can be used when diving in remote areas, for days or even weeks without an internet connection. The app synchronises automatically with your online profile. It allows you to see all your active and completed courses, download all manuals, log your dives and view them at any time.

Recorded offline dives are automatically synced as soon as you are online again. You can also use the app to view all your e-certificates for all your courses, free of charge.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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