Time Is of the Essence

Bill Ziefle in front of DAN Headquarters. © Steve Exum

In each issue of Alert Diver, you’ll find advertisements for some of the world’s best and most reputable liveaboard operators. Liveaboards are a great way to explore remote dive destinations for multiple days at a time, giving divers immersive and unforgettable experiences in certain corners of the underwater world.

In this issue, DAN Safety Services staff have written an article about liveaboards and lessons learned from the Conception tragedy, sharing important safety takeaways for liveaboard operators to consider. Regardless of whether you dive from a liveaboard, a day boat, or the shore, your safety is still your responsibility. Don’t let the excitement of a vacation or the presence of capable crew members or dive guides lead you to outsource your self-preservation. Accidents can happen to anyone at any time.

Although we know this intellectually, and we see it both in and outside of diving, many people decline to acknowledge this reality, believing instead that adverse events will happen only to others. Being a safe diver, however, means hedging your bets against dive accidents by equipping yourself with the tools and training you need to mitigate unnecessary risks and respond to unexpected events. In emergencies, your reaction matters, and every second counts.

Your Responsibility as a Safe Diver

While a degree of trust in your dive operator is important, it’s never wrong to advocate for your own safety. You can ask your liveaboard or charter operator if emergency oxygen is on board, if crew and dive staff have up-to-date first aid training, and if the operator has an emergency action plan in place. But safe divers take it a step further: They have recent first aid training, they know the importance of emergency oxygen and how to administer it, they have their own emergency action plan, and they are ready to act if needed. 

Hesitation or failure to act may result from lack of experience, poor skills, or insufficient training. Taking action in a dive emergency may be as laborious as providing CPR for more than 40 minutes, as Amy Arnold courageously did in this issue’s Incident Insight article. Or it may be as simple as recognizing signs of decompression sickness (DCS), taking them seriously, and promptly calling DAN. 

“Being a safe diver means hedging your bets against dive accidents by equipping yourself with the tools and training you need to mitigate unnecessary risks and respond to unexpected events.”

If you or someone else suspects that you may be suffering from DCS, then forgo that postdive nap. The sooner you call DAN, the sooner we can get you to treatment and organize your emergency evacuation if needed. The longer you take to initiate this crucial step, the longer it will take to set things in motion. Your health and safety are at stake, so take them seriously. Everything else can wait. 

DAN’s Responsibility as Your Dive Safety Association 

DAN has been managing dive emergencies and arranging evacuations for more than 40 years. We’ve successfully completed thousands of these missions. We constantly strive to improve our infrastructure, and we update our standard operating procedures based on our experience. All members can be assured that we take preventative measures to streamline our evacuation and medical services.

DAN’s medical director is available for consultation with treating physicians. If the treating physician lacks the skill or education needed to diagnose a dive injury, the DAN medic will strongly recommend an immediate consultation with DAN’s medical director to determine what’s best for the injured diver. 

DAN remains the primary point of contact for case management. The DAN medic assigned to the case will participate in all calls between DAN’s travel assistance provider and the injured party to reinforce the urgency of action and to ensure the member gets all the benefits and services their DAN membership and insurance provides.

“DAN has been serving diversfor more than 40 years. You can rest assured that if you have a dive emergency, DAN will be there for you.”

In situations where payment is required prior to or at the time of service, the DAN medic will engage with other DAN staff as needed to approve charges, issue guarantees of payment, and issue payments by credit card and/or wire transfer.

DAN’s goal is for members to never have to make direct out-of-pocket payments. We continue to refine our systems and database to allow information collection on key airports and local provider options for air transportation — similar to what we have for hyperbaric chambers. 

We are also continuing to develop and enhance the emergency action plans we have in place for key dive destinations, which we are doing in conjunction with developing the local medevac provider database to give us a more complete picture of what needs to happen in specific situations and locations.

A part of DAN’s medical services operation, the new DAN Assistance Services group will soon replace DAN’s travel assistance provider. While these services were originally scheduled for rollout later this year, DAN is accelerating plans to allow us to assume responsibility for all member assistance services at the earliest possible date. We will provide more information about this expanded service as it becomes available.

DAN has been serving divers for more than 40 years. You can rest assured that if you have a dive emergency, DAN will be there for you.

© Alert Diver — Q1 2024