with assurance means you've made prior planning and preparation
before the emergency happens
DAN Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Years ago, I was diving a river near a small
community when I heard a diver in the water yell for assistance. The
diver, in obvious distress, was at the surface spitting up dark red,
We immediately put someone in the water to
provide assistance as we prepared to remove the diver from the
swiftly moving river water.
The boardwalk was at least 6' to 8' (1.8m to
water level. As part of our preparation for such a emergency, we had
carried with us surplus aluminum aircraft ladders -- they were
perfect for rapidly carrying to an extrication point, hooking onto
the existing railing and lowering down into the water. Once this was
done, removing the diver from the water was not difficult.
In the meantime, we called the local emergency
medical services (EMS), but the volunteer rescue squad was busy with
another local catastrophe. We prepared to remove the injured diver
ourselves. (Note: when available, it is always better to remove any
injured person using the local EMS).
The diver was anxious, to say the least, but
otherwise conscious and having no difficulty breathing. We performed
all appropriate first aid, including the use of oxygen, and we moved
the diver to the local medical facility without delay.
We had called the facility as we were preparing
the injured diver for transport, so they were ready when we arrived.
After a complete examination, it was determined that the diver had a
bleeding ulcer that he was not aware of.
true scenario reinforces the point that not all accidents at dive
sites are dive accidents. Recreational scuba diving, like any other
outdoor leisure activity, is not without the risk of normal
accidents. Anytime you are involved in lifting or carrying heavy
equipment, climbing ladders, rocks and/or coral there is always the
possibility of injury. Just remember the last time you tried to get
yourself and your gear onto or off a bobbing boat while it was tied
to the dock --it's like to trying to walk through the rotating
barrel at the fun house.
As long as we are careful, the risk of diving
and non-diving injury is minimal, but it helps to be prepared.
all know, even the best-made plans can be unmade by the most dreaded
of travel buddies, "Murphy." According to his
"law," if something is likely to go wrong, it probably
already has, or it soon will. In this case, you must be prepared to act, not just react,
and to do so with prior planning and preparation for unforeseen
events. Early recognition and planned and practiced action is
critical to the welfare and safety of an injured person. It is
essential that you be prepared to manage an accident in the
conditions where you are actually diving. In the example above, had
we not been prepared to remove the injured diver at the boardwalk,
the nearest easy exit point was more than a mile downstream. As part
of our preparation for those circumstances, we had already practiced
removing a simulated injured diver from those or other rather
difficult, but realistic, conditions.
Unfortunately, here at DAN we have received
reports of injured divers at specific sites -- only to discover that
they cannot be assisted easily because no one at that site is
prepared. The result can be a considerable delay in assistance and
treatment, possibly transforming a serious but treatable injury into
a far graver injury, or even into permanent disability.
Safe diving includes not only being prepared
but acting with knowledge, experience and preparation rather than
Here are some other ways to be prepared for an
emergency while diving:
Find out beforehand who in your dive group are
DAN members. Remember that all DAN members have travel assistance
and other emergency benefits. Encourage nonmembers to sign up for
DAN membership well in advance of your trip.
Have at least one person always on the surface
to assist if necessary.
Have the phone number of the local emergency
medical services (EMS) readily accessible. On some Caribbean
islands, there are local REACT groups to help in emergencies. If you
plan to do any diving outside of what's organized at your hotel, it
would be worth your while to have this information available.
Keep on hand the name, address and phone number
of the local medical facility. Part of our normal procedure when
arriving at a dive site was to drive the route to the local medical
facility beforehand, just in case we had to get there on our own.
had even prepared local maps to provide directions.
Once at the site, identify communications
alternatives. If it is a local curbside phone, make a call to make
sure the phone is working. It is wise to have coins available or a
calling card (such as the DAN calling card) so there is no delay.
Make sure your cellular phone works in any
remote area where you will be diving. Cell phones are a great
alternative since they provide constant communications both at the
site and en route.
Have and consult the DAN Dive &
Travel Medical Guide not only to get the DAN Diving Emergency
Hotline and DAN TravelAssist numbers but also to provide additional
information to the EMS if they should want it.
Look for a DAN TagTM on buoyancy compensation
devices. If the injured person is unconscious, look for a DAN TagTM
to get the DAN emergency phone number and personal medical
information about the injured person.
Keep on hand any additional information that
might be helpful in managing any type of accident.
--Based on the article Emergency Assistance
Planning by Dan Orr in Alert Diver, the member magazine of Divers Alert Network.