Diver Rescues

By Divers Alert Network

Whether youare a dive professional or a newly certified diver, diver rescues are something you should be familiar with. Rendering aid to a panicking diver is admirable but can put you at risk. Knowing when and how to help is criticalaitas better to avoid helping at all if youare more likely to create a second victim than help the diver in need. Brush up on your diver rescue skills now, so youare better equipped to make an educated decision about how to assist if the need arises.

UnconsciousA diverA recovery

The rescue of an unconscious diver is one of the most sobering( and thankfully, least usually applied) skills that divers are required to learn. The various techniques involved can be a challenge to master, and experts have spent years debating the finer points of bringing an unconscious or unresponsive diver to the surface. Whatas important to understand is that any situation that results in loss of consciousness in the water has a high probability of serious injury or death. Because of this, itas critical to bring a diver to safety as expeditiously as possible.A

The way a diver is recovered to the surface, however, raises several questions about airway upkeep and potential barotrauma. It is possible that a diver, as a result of seizure or reaction to water in the airway, could have something called a laryngospasmaa spasm of the vocal cords that can result in a closing of the airway. This airway closure could potentially trap air breathed at depth in the lungs, which upon ascending could expand and potentially cause a pressure injury. The Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society( UHMS) Diving Committee is chaired by experts in medicine, physiology, and hyperbarics and has spent a lot of hour considering this topic. Their solution is the following algorithm for the rescue of an unconscious diver: A

This protocol prioritizes the idea that any diver are still not convulsing should be brought to the surface, induced positively buoyant, and either be given rescue breaths and towed to security or removed from the water to receive CPR, as determined by the environment. Each of these steps seems self-explanatory on its own, but piecing them together can take time and practise. Complex rescue protocols such as this one rely on frequent practice and regular knowledge updates.A

The rescue of a conscious but panicking diver can be even more dangerousato the victim and the rescuerathan the rescue of an unconscious diver. If there is a single most important concept in diver rescue training, itas that no rescue should be attempted if it is likely to create additional victims. Itas easy to suffer traumata from flailing panicked divers, and serious harm might result if a panicking diver tried to hold you underwater or interfered with your equipment on the surface or at depth. Never engage a distressed victim via a direct approach; swimming underneath, around, or behind is a great way to gain control of the diver while minimizing the possibility that they could grab you or your equipment. BCDs and tank valves provide great handholds for controlling a panicking diveras motions as you tow them to safety. If you cannot safely approach a distressed diver, it is better to allow them to work themselves out of their panicked country or become fatigued or even unconscious than to put yourself at risk by immediately engaging them. If the diver is conscious you can assume theyare breathing, and you can focus on controlling their movements, stimulating them positively buoyant, and eliminate them from the water as rapidly as possible.

WhatA now ?

Putting your skills to the test in a simulated( or real-world) scenario is the best way to bring together everything you know and commit your response plan to memory. Even the best diver recovery is rather pointless without a thoughtfully planned follow-up, and you should consider the best protocol for your environment. Take the time to walk through exactly how youall respond to a few of the most common diver injuriesafrom the onset of trouble to the hand-off to emergency services. Itas easy to overlook small but critical pieces of an emergency action plan until you set it into action. Consider how youall stabilize your victim, remove them from the environment and offer first aid as well as how emergency services will be reached and engaged.A

For more information on safe diving practices visit www.DAN.org

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