by David Paliotta
My daughter Emma and I entered the auditorium on the day of the DAN training feeling a trifle apprehensive with a dose of excitement and also a little late. Our dry land navigation skills need some work since we couldn’t find the building, but there was no judgement from a friendly group of staff, volunteers and fellow Nauts despite our tardiness. Time to get down to business as we took our seats for what Emma and I thought was going to be a tedious day; we couldn’t have been more wrong.
There was a lot of important material to absorb if we wanted to master the skills to be a DAN Professional First Aid Diving Provider, and as I listened to our Chief Operating Officer Katie Shoultz, I felt surely she must have been a graduate of Lee Strasberg’s prodigious Theater and Film Institute! Katie as it turns out is simply a natural born teacher/presenter, and her methods of conveying what could have been considered by many, dry material, was presented in a fun and enjoyable way. Katie was engaging and fostered participation among the high schoolers aided by her stash of giveaways, which consisted of water bottles, stickers and such that would draw the shyest of teens out of their shell. Coupled with breakout groups teaching important concepts such as proper medical glove removal, rescue position, neurological assessment etcetera, the afternoon went by surprisingly quickly and we looked forward to the next day having made some friends in the process.
Sunday came quickly and we now looked forward to the upcoming training, and this time we were in the right room! There were many volunteers that day and although I can’t recall all of their names, their faces are etched in my memory – they were brilliant throughout and kept loquacious people like yours truly on track! Emma and I were in separate groups, so Dad did experience some separation anxiety (tongue firmly in cheek), but it was warranted as we learned and performed CPR techniques, became proficient with oxygen, its handling, and the various masks to use in different situations. We also learned how to use Automated External Defibrillator (AED) devices and first aid techniques as demonstrated by Ms. Hooper, a skilled Dive Safety Officer.
Testing was last on the agenda and a group photo with a big shout out to DAN who provided all the training gear for the weekend. Lives WILL be saved as a result of their generosity and faith in our young, ambitious and exuberant youth, along with their supportive parents. There is no greater joy than forming a lifelong bond with one’s children. Introducing Emma to the joys of diving and ocean life, and subsequently discovering SCUBAnauts through Tim and Sophia has not only been fortuitous, but has fulfilled me as a parent and a person.