How RESA Got Started…

The recreational rebreather diving industry as we know it started a number of years ago with the Dragger. Since then many new units and courses have been created.

As with any new technology, systems for training were put into place when the first rebreathers were introduced into the market place. When new rebreather companies started producing rebreathers, courses were developed for these units also.

Years went by, and we saw the industry grow and change. Rebreathers went from being a tool that only extreme divers used, to an acceptable tool for technical divers and then a tool for recreational divers.

During this time, rebreather manufacturers learned and grew with the industry. New technology was invented, old technology was perfected and endless research was done to make better units: some are smarter, others simpler, some lighter and others heavier, some streamlined and others complex.

While technology was being developed and changed, there was never a time that the manufacturers sat down together to discuss where the future of our industry was going. Subjects such as third party testing, acceptable test parameters, what tests should be done, quality assurance standards, what consists of a proper QA program, what are the appropriate standards that we should be testing to, appropriate third party testing companies…etc.

These are some important subjects; and we haven’t even gotten to training yet. So let’s talk about training.

At the start, programs were developed for the first units on the market. As these were the first rebreathers introduced into the recreational market place, I can only imagine the challenges on writing these first programs. They likely merged knowledge from military, commercial and recreational diving programs.

Some units were sold with no training at all. Those wanting to buy them had to convince the owner of that company that they were qualified and that they would seek training…either from a buddy, or take a rebreather course on a different unit!

As time passed, courses were written for most of the rebreathers in the market place. This was either training agencies writing programs and asking manufacturer’s for approval or manufacturers writing programs and submitting them to agencies for teaching. While this works, there is certainly room for improvement.

How much better, safer and more educational can our training courses be if we as manufacturers worked together on some key issues?

Issues such as requiring published minimum training standards. If we all publish our minimum training standards, then every rebreather student will have an expectation on what will be taught in the class. If sections are skipped, the student will know that they aren’t being provided with a full program.

How about the sharing of information from training agencies to manufacturers and then to other training agencies?

These are some pretty heavy subjects. And frankly, as everyone here knows, technical rebreather divers are generally strong minded people. We manufacturers are no different. Maybe even worse then the rest of you!

So how do strong minded competitors work through some of these issues? Well, you have enough courage to form a corporation called RESA, to get started. You have the guts to say your piece to the group and also to listen closely and give due respect to consider opinions that may not be similar to your own. Then you convince other key entities in the industry that you need and want their input and that you would like them to join RESA as well so they can be part of the process. And once you’ve done all that, the fun & work really starts.

This is where we are at today. We’ve incorporated RESA, we’ve written the bylaws, the budget has been determined, we know the subjects that we wish to start discussions on, and now we’ve got our own RESA forum up and running. This forum is members and invitation only and is the perfect venue for discussing these pressing matters.

Our struggle here will be encouraging everyone involved to make time in their busy schedules to participate in the forum, to get thoughts down in writing, and work towards a consensus.

Our members have a common goal of improving the safety record of rebreather divers by a substantial margin. This will require industry wide cooperation and
RESA member manufacturers are committed to working together as are the
training agencies.

Safe diving,

Kim Mikusch
President, RESA