The USPA incident reporting system has been due for a significant overhaul for some time now, and it is getting one. USPA members reported 4,277 reserve rides and 2,147 injuries that required medical care in 2018, but USPA received only 29 incident reports. Sit back for a moment and imagine the lessons lost to the skydiving community when all it would have taken is for each of those jumpers to have spent 10 minutes filling out a short report.
There are plenty of misconceptions about designated evaluators, those jumpers who assist AFF instructor examiners by performing currency and course evaluation jumps. Quiz yourself to see how your understanding stacks up to reality.
Several changes that came out of the February 1-3 USPA Board meeting in Dallas, Texas, affect USPA rating holders.
How do the best competitors in our sport reach success? Teamwork: individuals combining efforts to achieve a common purpose. Teamwork works best when each member understands their part in the whole. So, in the case of skydiving instruction, who does what?
In the real world of skydiving, people who are coaches, instructors and role models have their own personal experiences, training backgrounds and motivations. Achieving common safety objectives and targets instead of operating as a group of individuals without a common purpose requires an interactive process. Using a Plan–Do–Check–Act process can provide the structure and commonality needed to get everyone on the same page and working together. Like a circle that has no end, the PDCA cycle requires repetition for continuous improvement. When using PDCA for safety initiatives, you, the instructional rating holder, have a crucial part to play.
Real life often gets in the way of skydiving, and jumpers may find themselves away from the sport for 61 days, 30 years or something in between. One of the regular tasks of USPA Coaches and Instructors is to help these jumpers knock off the rust and get back in the air. Every jumper’s situation will be different, so it requires the instructional staff to create a training plan unique to each individual.
One of the simplest ways to become a stronger instructor and a better leader is to change ineffective speech patterns. Three common habits can cause a noticeable lack of clarity. Once coaches and instructors correct these habits, they instantly add power and confidence to their lessons.
Section 4 of the Skydiver’s Information Manual contains the Integrated Student Program, now in its 18th year as the progression that USPA recommends for students working toward the A license. It is a very detailed program, which can make it look intimidating to the casual observer, but it’s actually easy to implement and use. The program makes it simple to track exactly what students have completed and what they still need to accomplish as they work through each of the tasks required for the USPA A license.
At the July 13-15 USPA Board meeting in Milwaukee, the board passed a motion to change the Basic Safety Requirements regarding accelerated freefall student training. The new language spells out the minimum requirements for students who train in wind tunnels before they make their first jumps with only one AFF instructor.
In 2017, USPA conducted five standardization meetings for all current AFF instructor examiners and tandem instructor examiners, as well as those pursuing an examiner rating or attending purely for educational purposes. This was USPA’s first attempt at hosting the AFF and tandem meetings in one location and condensing the length of each discipline’s meeting to one day instead of two. The meetings went well, but the shorter meetings meant leaving out a lot of valuable information and discussion.
Have you ever spent months working with a student, ensuring that you covered each category and transferred the necessary knowledge and skills, then proudly stamped the A-license card and watched in disbelief as he ran off to sign up for a 10-way speedstar competition with a freshly mounted GoPro on his helmet?
Skydiving coaches, instructors and instructor examiners would much rather spend time in the air skydiving than on the ground handling paperwork. While this is understandable (hey, nobody likes to fill out forms, right?), each rating holder’s administrative responsibilities are extremely important.
Last August, two tandem double fatalities occurred just a week apart. The details for both of those tragic accidents can be found in “Incident Reports” in this issue of Parachutist. While the casual observer may not see a correlation between the two accidents, they should be a flashing neon warning sign that screams for every tandem examiner, Safety and Training Advisor and drop zone operator to regularly review staff members’ tandem procedures.
Several changes that came out of the March 2-4 USPA Board meeting in San Antonio, Texas, affect USPA rating holders.
If you ever need a quick and easy way to make every coach and instructor in the hangar run away and hide, just yell, “I need someone to handle the student radio!”
Each year, more states legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. As the use of pot continues to gain acceptance around the country, the skydiving community needs to be aware that it may lead to some issues with students, licensed jumpers and instructional rating holders.
As adult human beings, we make approximately 35,000 decisions a day … 35,000! That’s a ton of decision making! If you’re a skydiving coach or instructor, a lot of those decisions involve the safety and wellbeing of skydiving students, and hopefully, your decisions are based completely on those considerations.
Good judgment comes from experience, but for many, a lot of their experience comes from bad judgment. Regardless of whether you are just getting started in teaching skydiving by gaining a USPA Coach rating or have been at it for years and are receiving an Instructor Examiner rating, working toward a goal and earning a new rating is a challenging process that requires hard work and dedication. It is the end of one process (preparing and completing a certification course) and the beginning of another (the real-world environment). You have proven you deserve the rating with your knowledge and flying skills, but now is when learning really begins.
An ever-increasing number of tandem accidents are attributable to the use of handcams, either as a direct or indirect cause. Sadly, the mistakes leading to these accidents are easy to see in high-definition video, as the tandem instructors continue filming with a straight left arm even as the world around them is going to hell.
At the July USPA Board meeting in Seattle, Washington, the Safety and Training Committee spent most of its meeting time discussing the instructional rating process. The results were multiple changes, some of which went into effect immediately and others of which will come into play at a later date.
As a USPA Instructor or Instructor Examiner, you may need to help a skydiver who holds foreign or military credentials obtain a USPA license or rating. USPA does not have a process for automatically converting non-USPA licenses or ratings into USPA licenses or ratings, but shortcuts are available in some circumstances.
One of the most important of an instructional rating holder’s tasks is ensuring that each student receives proper training for the USPA A license. Part of this responsibility includes making logbook entries and initialing required items on the USPA A-License Proficiency Card or A-License Progression Card to properly track and document this training. Some instructors are very good about making logbook entries and updating the license cards, but many could use improvement, and drop zones handle this process in a seemingly infinite number of ways.
Does an instructional rating holder have more liability than those not coaching or instructing? Inherently, yes. You take on more responsibility—hence more liability—by assuming a role that cares for students. However, there are clear limits to that liability and simple ways to reduce the likelihood that you will be held legally accountable in any situation. How do you reduce your risk? By applying your ethics.
(More articles being added every day!)
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