Do you offer a technical diving course that doesn't require helium?
No, we don't. Our classes that train divers to go deeper than 100fsw include the use of helium, for several reasons.
Helium is the diver's wonder gas. Due to its properties, it minimizes narcosis and allows for more efficient deco.
We limit our END (Equivalent Narcotic Depth) to 100fsw or less. For dives shallower than 100fsw, we use air or EAN32. When diving deeper than 100fsw, in order to minimize narcosis, we add helium to our breathing gas.
Standardization plays a major role in team diving. Standardization in equipment, training, protocols, breathing gas and decompression procedures, to name a few. When entering an overhead environment or decompression, standardization becomes more critical, in order to mitigate risk. To execute a dive deeper than 100fsw with no helium means the diver will be using a non-standard gas in that depth range. In addition to using a non-standard bottom gas, the use of that gas may also result in a decompression profile that differs from that if a standard gas was used.
Simply put, in team diving, executing a technical dive without the use of helium creates unnecessary complications and defeats the purpose of standardization that team diving is based upon and the benefits it offers.
Can Tech 1 & Tech 2 be taken together?
Yes, they can. The UTD "Technical Diver" course is Tech 1 & Tech 2 combined. Taken separately, Tech 1 & Tech 2 are each 3 day classes. When combined, Technical Diver is a 5 - 6 day class.
In keeping with "training how we dive", when doing multiple technical dives in a day, we use a bottom stage, in addition to the required deco bottles. For some, moving directly from recreational diving in doubles, with a few practice dives with a deco bottle, directly to dives in the 160fsw range with a stage and deco bottle can be a tall order.
Introducing the new technical diving student to longer bottom times, at slightly deeper depths, using a deco bottle, builds a solid foundation for them to build upon, letting them grow comfortable with a single deco bottle.
Once they're comfortable with a single deco bottle they can then add a stage bottle, along with a deco bottle and deeper depths (160fsw) to their foundation, which are introduced in Tech 2