DAN Emergency Hotline Celebrates Five Years of New Zealand Operations

Divers know they can trust the DAN Emergency Hotline to provide crucial support during diving emergencies. Trained medics and physicians are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring divers never have to face an emergency alone — no matter the time or location.

For nearly four decades, the hotline was operated solely from DAN’s headquarters in North Carolina. However, rising call volumes made it increasingly difficult to manage cases across various time zones. To maintain high-quality 24/7/365 service, DAN established hotline centers in New Zealand and South Africa in recent years. This global coverage “follows the sun,” meaning that DAN has medical staff available in shifts across time zones to serve divers in need.

“Having three hotline centers strategically located around the globe allows us to stay highly responsive and engaged with cases that occur overnight or in different time zones. As we continue to strengthen our teams and operations in New Zealand and South Africa, DAN is committed to enhancing the hotline’s capability to assist divers anytime, anywhere, for years to come.”

— Matias Nochetto, M.D., Vice President of Medical Services at DAN

Johan Olivier’s Path and Impact

Johan Olivier, DAN’s New Zealand Call Center Manager based in Auckland, New Zealand, played a pivotal role in the 2019 launch of the organization’s New Zealand operation. His lifelong journey with dive medicine began at the Institute of Aviation Medicine in South Africa, where he crossed paths with Francois Burman, formerly CEO of DAN Southern Africa and now the Vice President of Safety Services at DAN in the United States. Johan’s experience led him to work with the South African Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Association and manage the Port Elizabeth Hyperbaric Unit. In 2008, he relocated to New Zealand, where he worked for a major hyperbaric systems manufacturer, volunteered for St. John Ambulance, and became a New Zealand Resuscitation Instructor.

Recognizing Johan’s expertise, Francois invited him to present at a conference in Bali, Indonesia, in 2016. This sparked ongoing conversations with the DAN team. After discussions with Matias Nochetto, M.D., Vice President of Medical Services at DAN, about plans for the “follow the sun” strategy, Johan and his wife, an anesthetist technician, accepted an offer and started taking North America’s night calls from New Zealand.

Despite the difficulties caused by COVID-19 just months after he began and a scarcity of trained and experienced dive medics in Auckland, Johan embraced the challenge to take the operation to the next level. With the support of Matias and the DAN Medical Services team, Johan identified candidates with emergency medicine experience, trained them in dive medicine, and provided guidance and oversight. As a result, he now leads a growing Call Center that works seamlessly with its counterparts in North Carolina and South Africa.

DAN’s New Zealand Call Center in Auckland
DAN’s New Zealand Call Center in Auckland

The Emergency Hotline’s Global Future

On the fifth anniversary of the New Zealand operation’s launch, Johan flew 30 hours across a 16-hour time difference to visit the DAN headquarters. This trip marked a major milestone for Johan and the DAN Medical Services team as they reunited in person for the first time since 2019. His visit included sessions with Matias to plan for the hotline’s future and evaluate training and systems improvements.

Looking ahead, Johan and Matias aim to expand hotline staffing with more medics and doctors in New Zealand. This summer, Matias, Johan, and their teams will host a DAN Emergency Hotline workshop, inviting all hotline agents to join and collaborate virtually. There will be medics, nurses and doctors from North Carolina, Hawaii, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil, and even as far as Iceland. The plan also includes upcoming medic exchanges between DAN’s North Carolina and Auckland teams to encourage knowledge sharing and consistent practices across hotline offices while absorbing organizational culture and values.

Matias Nochetto, M.D., and Johan Olivier at DAN Headquarters in May 2024
Matias Nochetto, M.D., and Johan Olivier at DAN Headquarters in May 2024

“Building personal relationships and exchanging knowledge with hotline colleagues across our offices enhances operational cohesion and efficiency. Despite physical distances and different time zones, shared experiences, conversations, and collaboration contribute to our collective success — and help us provide a consistent experience for emergency hotline callers, whether they’re speaking to a DAN medic in Auckland or Durham.”

— Johan Olivier, DAN’s New Zealand Call Center Manager

The DAN Emergency Hotline strives to deliver excellent service and seamless operations, around the world and around the clock, to provide real-time emergency medical assistance to divers in need.

DAN Emergency Hotline: +1-919-684-9111