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Emergency First Aid


Emergency First Aid For Dive Injuries
By Bill Clendenen, Vice President, DAN Training


REMOVE the injured diver from danger.

MONITOR the ABCs -- Airway, Breathing, and Circulation.

POSITION the injured diver in a comfortable, recumbent position.  If the diver is nauseated, unconscious or semiconscious, place the injured diver on his or her side with the head supported.  This is also known as the recovery, or lateral recumbent, position.

PROVIDE FLUIDS. If the diver is fully conscious and having no difficulty breathing, you can provide non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids such as water or fruit juice.

PROVIDE 100 PERCENT OXYGEN. Use a tight-fitting or nasal mask.  If the injury is decompression illness, providing 100 percent oxygen at the earliest moment maximizes its benefits.  The benefits include increased off-gassing of nitrogen and possible reduction in nitrogen bubble size, less tissue swelling, and an increase in oxygen levels to oxygen-deficient tissues.

Once you use emergency oxygen, the results may often be dramatic.  Even if symptoms resolve quickly, continuing oxygen augments the elimination of nitrogen and enhances the ultimate results of recompression treatment


CONTACT DAN at the Diving Emergency Hotline: the number is 919-684-4DAN (collect) or 919-684-8111 (toll).  Divers Alert Network can help you make sure the injured diver is being managed properly and can handle the referral to the nearest available recompression facility.  This service is available to everyone, regardless of membership or insurance status.


Be prepared by having the following emergency assistance information on hand:

Know the Local Emergency Access Number
Your diving preparedness means having access to critical emergency assistance information, even though a diving or medical emergency is unlikely.  Many areas have a single emergency access phone number -- 911 or another emergency number.

Know the Local Police & Fire Department Numbers
You should also secure the contact phone numbers for the local police and fire departments if they are different from the emergency number.  Knowing the location and phone number of the nearest hospital is also crucial.

Wear Your DAN Tag
 Having a DAN TagTM will provide you, your buddy and emergency medical services important medical and insurance information about the ill or injured diver.  If a diver requires evacuation for a life-threatening emergency, contact the Coast Guard or other similar group on VHF Radio Channel 16 to assist with the emergency.

Call DAN for Diving Emergencies
Divers Alert Network (DAN) is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to assist the diving community -- DAN members and non-members alike -- with coordination, evacuation and consultation when diving emergencies occur. The DAN Diving Emergency Hotline number is 919-684-4DAN (collect) or  919-684-8111 (toll).

Call DAN TravelAssist for Medical Emergencies and Evacuations
If you are a DAN member and need evacuation for either a diving accident or a medical emergency, call 800-DAN-EVAC (326-3822).  If you're outside the USA, Canada, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands or U.S. Virgin Islands, call 215-245-2461, collect.


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