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.
Based on the errors that staff at USPA Headquarters encounters daily, many rating holders are too busy skydiving to worry about the administrative side of things. Headquarters staff must reject license applications daily, largely due to easily preventable administrative errors. Since license applications include instructions on the form, all that coaches, instructors or Safety and Training Advisors need to do is take a minute to verify that everything is initialed and signed correctly.
License application mistakes are bad enough, but errors on rating applications send the potential for safety and legal problems through the roof. Far too frequently, USPA discovers that a skydiver acted as an instructor for months—or even years—without a USPA rating. This is almost always due to an error that prevents USPA Headquarters from processing (or even receiving) the certification course paperwork. Until recently, nobody was required to follow up to ensure that USPA issued a rating after a course. Though USPA staff would send an email and postcard to the member if they could not process a rating, that worked only if they received paperwork at all.
USPA recently implemented changes to help ensure it issues ratings appropriately following a course. Examiners must now submit candidate proficiency cards to USPA for each candidate and follow up after certification courses to ensure the paperwork is complete. This will prevent the candidate from finishing a course but never submitting the rating proficiency card to USPA for processing. Regardless, examiners also need to emphasize administrative requirements during coach and instructor rating courses so the candidates understand their responsibilities.
Once USPA issues a rating, the rating holder must renew it annually along with USPA membership. Each drop zone owner must develop a process to ensure their staff maintains current USPA membership and ratings. The drop zone can use manifest software that tracks membership and rating expiration dates or simply set a calendar reminder for each staff member. Regardless of the method, it is a good idea to have a system in place. To assist, USPA is developing a system that will allow rating holders to renew online, which should help automate the rating-renewal process.
Jim Crouch | D-16979
USPA Director of Safety & Training