DAN is My Buddy

​Diving-related injuries are rare, but when they do occur, there is an urgent need for diving medical assessment and appropriate emergency medical management. The latter may include recompression - but not always. 

The complexity of diving injury cases is largely two-fold: Firstly, they often occur in remote locations; secondly, in addition although diving does introduce some unique risks and disorders - some of which may require recompression, divers are not exempt from non-diving-related emergencies and illnesses. As a result, general medical assessment and management is always required. Then, when appropriate - but only if this can be undertaken with safely - recompression may be required in some situations. 

Any medical emergency revolves around the following four key elements: 
  1. What the problem is - Recognition; 
  2. What can be done right away - Response;
  3. Where the closest most appropriate resources are for medical assessment and management - Referral;
  4. How to make it happen - Resources.
Divers Alert Network was created as an international public benefit organization to assist recreational divers. The mission of DAN has always been to (1) create a hotline or communication platform for the purpose of facilitating access to medical assessment and management; (2) create awareness of diving-related disorders to assure prompt recognition; (2) compile and offer dedicated first aid and diving medicine training to optimize the local response given all the limitations of the actual location and the environmental conditions. 

Unfortunately, people may be in denial, which can delay recognition of, and response to, the problem. First aid and medical resources may also be lacking. Communication may be hampered by local telecommunication services and language barriers. On top of this, there is the reality that any transportation and medical services cost money. For this reason, DAN realized that it had to make provision for part of the fourth element - financial resources, i.e., funding for emergency medical transport, assessment and management. DAN America and DAN Europe have now grown to a size that it has become more economical to bring their insurance in-house. We are still at a stage that our members are covered under a Group Policy. In other words, DAN Southern Africa is not an insurance. DAN Southern Africa is the insured, with our members ultimately enjoying the benefits of DAN Southern Africa's cover.

The final challenge, however, is this: Even when individuals do recognize the problem, and do have access to funding, the appropriate infrastructure and services may simply not be available or be too far away. As much as DAN would like to, it cannot create local infrastructure that does not exist (e.g., it cannot light runways; build roads that do not exist; or even compel an aeromedical service to fly to and land amidst adverse lighting and weather conditions). As such, all DAN can offer is the very best it can do under the circumstances. 

DAN is an association of divers helping divers. Our commitment to our members extends as far as a call can reach. Funding is also available for whatever is necessary for emergency medical assessment and management. But the reality is that those very services which DAN and its members depend on,  to assist near the dive-site, may not always under our control. Under these conditions, the best decisions must be made while weighing up the potential benefits and all the potential dangers. This is what DAN has committed itself to for 20 years, and we will continue doing it as best we can for the benefit of our members.


Peter Southwood - June 6th, 2015 at 10:46am

In the context of diving, a buddy is usually understood to be a diver who accompanies you on a dive, in close proximity, and ready to provide immediate in-water assistance. DAN is more like the surface support team in commercial or technical diving. In some cases they actually are part of the surface support team, but never really a dive buddy.


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