We all know they are there for our safety, but sometimes it appears as if the goals of divemasters and lifeguards is to take the fun out of diving. “Dive here, not there; stay with your buddy or else; come back with 500 p.s.i. or else.” They poke and twist your dive gear, ask a lot of questions, and want your autograph more than a crazed sports fan after his favorite star.

So how do we deal with these “scuba police”? First, understand that they truly are there for your safety. They are there that should you get in trouble, you stand a good chance of a trained rescue.

As with any emergency management, prevention is the beginning. This is the reason for the questions, prodding and insistence on compliance to procedures. Without the intrusions, boats and beaches would be overwhelmed with rescues or worse, corpses. And if the divemasters and lifeguards are overwhelmed, some rescues, perhaps yours, could go unattended. Prevention is key to accident management.

With that in mind, treat these authorities with respect. If you don’t know the reason for a procedure, ask. Communicate with respect and you should get a reasonable answer.

If you do not get a reasonable answer, or you show respect and do not get it in return, complain to a higher authority. We are, after all, here for fun, not stress and tension. Anything that gets in the way of a relaxing time, in particular, a person in a position of authority with a bad attitude should be looked into. For a divemaster on a boat, complain to the person in charge that day, usually the boat skipper or the charter group. If the divemaster is the head of the charter group, and you feel are being unfairly treated, cease patronizing that business and let them know why.

For lifeguards, you’ll have to go to the supervisor or captain. Problems with lifeguards, unfortunately, seem to be more common but also more easily resolved. Young bucks get their first job, lack people skills, and get power crazed. It is usually cleared up quickly with a mention to their more experienced boss.

In a utopian society, there would be no need for police. Everybody would comply with all the laws making society smooth running a safe. But of course utopia is impossible and enforcers are necessary. Respect lifeguards and divemasters and their very important role in our underwater recreational activities.