I was Open Water certified through PADI in 2012. Since then I’ve completed various specialty courses, some of them worth it and some not so much, in hindsight. Nitrox and PADI Rescue Diver were absolutely the best choices. Nitrox diving allows you to breathe a blend of gas with a reduced percentage of nitrogen, which means more bottom time. And any variation of a rescue diver course just makes you a better diver all around.
Since then I’ve continued by training with SSI, or SCUBA Schools International, which is just a different certification agency. There are politics behind the differing agencies but overall, PADI, SSI, and NAUI are the most common and most recognized agencies. They’ll all get you trained and in the water and no one really cares which agency you trained through.
SSI’s version of the Rescue Diver course is called Diver Stress and Rescue. Both courses have the same goal: to prepare the diver to handle stressful situations, to recognize and solve problems when they arise, and how to avoid them in the first place.
The course begins by explaining how to identify, manage, and prevent stress. It moves on into Accident Management, teaching the student the skills needed to deal with panicked divers and rescue techniques, as well as how to handle conditions that complicate rescue attempts.
You can expect 2 classroom periods and 2 pool sessions before the open water practical. CPR and First Aid training are the only prerequisites after your Open Water certification.
I believe every diver should eventually take a rescue course. You never know if or when you’ll need these skills. It doesn’t matter which agency your previous dive courses have been through – any of them who offer the class can certify you!