Line Pulls from CDA
Line Pulls from CDA
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A Day in the Life of a Commercial Diving Student
“What’s cool is each week we have a different instructor and they’re all completely different. No one just reads off a manual or goes off a script. No one has the same personality. They have experience and knowledge that we all take from.”
-- Matthew Simonson, 9-year veteran of the Coast Guard and student at CDA Technical Institute
While the days at CDA Technical Institute are filled with surprises and new twists and turns, there’s a certain rhythm that helps keep students focused on all the new information that’s coming at them.
Whether it’s a new safety exercise or an additional rigging procedure, there’s always something new to learn.
“I usually wake up at five,” said Simonson. “I live off campus, but that’s about when most everyone else wakes up too. I’ll eat something, get something in my stomach, because right when you get here there’s PT, muster, morning dives.
Muster is at six o’clock and then for some there’s a late breakfast and physical training, or PT, and then another muster a few minutes before eight.
After that, it’s time for the morning modules. That can take the form of classroom education or diving activities.
“They don’t spend a majority of their time in the classrooms, but I help teach them the physics and the science behind what they do,” said Brandon Mounts, who graduated from CDA in 2006 and after nine years in the field is back as an NCCER certified instructor. “Why do you need to decompress? Why does their body absorb nitrogen? You’re in the classroom about two weeks straight. The rest of the time, you’re outside almost every day.”
Today wasn’t a classroom day so we were outside in the dive tanks and in the river.
“Today we did NDT training, which means non-destructive training,” said Simonson. “We just jumped in the water and started probing a barrel. A lot of our learning is to just get out there and do it.”
Other mornings it could be standby drills, or rigging, or inland coastal.
“They’re using all the skills they’ve learned before -- charting their own dives, running their own radios -- and putting it together to learn what they’re doing in the water,” said Mounts.
After several hours of morning dives, it’s time for lunch before noon and then back to afternoon dives starting promptly at one -- which are a repeat of that morning’s dives.
At quarter-to-five you muster and it’s colors promptly at five -- with the rest of the evening free to study, take part in a practice dive, or even work out in the gym. But even for those with a military background, the days can take your toll on you.
“You definitely feel it when you get home, especially in your legs,” said Simonson. “Going to sleep early is what I usually do.”
And then it’s up again at five do it all over again.
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