Your DAN Safety Stop 2019 Q1


Dive accidents can happen anywhere, any time and to anyone. As divers, we know that oxygen is widely accepted as the standard first aid for symptoms after diving. Oxygen is so vitally important that it should be readily available wherever people are diving.

Oxygen provides many benefits, including mitigating respiratory distress, reducing swelling and increasing oxygenation of the body’s tissues, which promotes healing. In cases of suspected decompression illness, oxygen helps minimize further tissue injury, enhances elimination of inert gas (e.g., nitrogen) and contributes to good outcomes. It can even save lives.

It is important that you take responsibility for your safety. Ask your dive operator about the availability of oxygen. It is absolutely reasonable to ask to see the oxygen unit before the boat leaves the dock; this ensures you know where it is and that it’s in good condition. Note that some dive professionals present the oxygen unit as part of their dive briefing. Depending on the location of the dive site, ask if there is enough oxygen to get at least one injured diver back to the dock or to the closest medical facility. Finally, identify which of the dive staff are trained in oxygen first aid.

Simply having oxygen, it is not enough! Safely and correctly administering oxygen first aid requires proper training. Fortunately, DAN has you covered. The DAN Emergency Oxygen for Scuba Diving Injuries course was developed by medical experts and designed to provide divers (and non-divers) with the skills to respond to emergencies with confidence. For more than 20 years this course has taught divers how to administer oxygen in the event of diving injuries and other aquatic emergencies. DAN is here to field calls about oxygen administration, transportation to medical facilities, follow-up care and other dive accident concerns. We encourage divers and others responding to emergencies to call the DAN Emergency Hotline (+27 828 10 60 10). We even provide medical consultation to emergency departments, hyperbaric facilities and other medical professionals to assist with treatment.

DAN developed the Oxygen Grant Program to both enhance diver safety and support dive professionals. The program improves access to this potentially life-saving treatment by providing oxygen units to dive operations and organisations that demonstrate a genuine need. Improving access to oxygen is particularly important in remote locations, where getting proper medical care may not be straightforward. When dive injuries occur, being able to recognise the problem and respond with the appropriate care can speed recovery and minimise lasting effects.

DAN would not be what it is today without the support of divers and the dive professionals who work to keep divers safe. Spread the word: If you know an organisation that has a genuine need for oxygen in the pursuit of their interaction with the dive or aquatics communities, tell them about the DAN Oxygen Grant Program. Most importantly, make sure your emergency action plan includes access to first-aid oxygen.

First Quarter Round-Up!

The first Quarter is done and dived out already. We were out the starting blocks whilst continuing the holidays at Sodwana Bay. It was good weather and great company to dive with. We were fortunate to be housed by Twobar Scuba at Emoyeni Lodge for the duration of December/January days at the iSimangaliso park. Being there gave us the opportunity to meet with new divers – Open Water scuba students and see where they get trained.

 Once back in Gauteng it was time to make plans for the new year and get around to visiting with the guys in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The excursion to Cape Town was as always somewhat of an expedition with dive centres like the always busy Pisces Divers, Cape Town Dive Centre – nice to meet with instructor Julia Andreas – and Deon Jonker at Indigo divers in Gordons Bay. Congratulations to DAN Distinguished Instructors Ettiene Raal of Alpha Dive in Strand and Carel van der Colff of DiveInn/OMSAC and thank you for your continued Industry Partnership. We look forward to working with all of you this year.

Then there is the Wildside Dive Festival at the Noorhoek ski boat club, Port Elizabeth this year, that has taken place over the long weekend in March. For the first time. Divers came from as far as Langebaan – Piet & Rossouw and their crew from Langebaan Divers and a group from Bloemfontein Sub Aqua club. This club celebrated their 50th year with a social evening and get together at the club house in Bloemfontein. We hope they go even bigger this year and offer our help and advice as always.  
DAN & NSRI Team Engagements

Over the past 12 months the DAN team has been working hand-in-hand with the volunteers at NSRI Stations situated in and around popular dive in South Africa. The aim of the Emergency Oxygen for Scuba Diving Injuries workshops were to provide the volunteers with the necessary knowledge and skill to assist divers with suspected decompression sickness injuries. The main focus was on skills development, maintaining their Oxygen equipment and how to safely manage Oxygen. The workshops have been well received and the plan is to continue the work at the NSRI Station by introducing the volunteers to the DAN Neurological Assessment programme to further their knowledge and to be better equipped to assist divers in the event of an emergency.

The DAN team trained a total 93 NSRI volunteers. These were the NSRI Stations that participated in the DAN Emergency Oxygen for Scuba Diving Injuries workshops.
Western Cape: Table Bay Station 3, Bakoven Station 4, Melkbosstrand Station 18, Hout Bay Station 8, Kommetjie Station 26, Standfontein Station 16, Simonstown Station 10, Gordon’s Bay Station 9, Hermanus Station 17, Kleinmond Station 42, Plettenberg Bay Station 14

Eastern Cape: Eats London Station 7, Port Elizabeth Station 6

KwaZulu-Natal: Ballito Station 41, Port Edward Station 32, Shelly Beach Station 20

To all the DAN members out there! Join Divers Alert Network Southern Africa or renew you membership. We will have your back in case of an diving emergency. It is Your Adventure! Your Safety! We will take care of the rest!

Like us on Facebook OR Instargram @DANSouthernAfrica OR Twitter @DiveSafety

Press Releases

DURHAM, NC – March 20, 2019 – Divers Alert Network® (DAN®) is now accepting applications for the 2019 DAN/R.W. “Bill” Hamilton Dive Medicine Research Grant. The year-long, US$10,000 grant supports new or ongoing research projects in one or more of the following areas:
Development of decompression procedure techniques for commercial, military, technical and/or recreational divers

  • Development of new decompression models
  • Probability of risk or probabilistic modelling
  • Multi-gas dive simulation
  • Dive computer procedures, protocols and testing
  • Treatment of incomplete decompression and resulting incidents

“Decompression safety was Bill Hamilton’s life’s work,” said Petar Denoble, DAN Vice President of Mission. “We established this grant to carry on his legacy and to support the next generation of researchers studying diving physiology and advanced decompression procedures. We’re excited to help fund and promote research that builds on Bill’s work and that can ultimately help save lives.”

DAN established the research grant in honour of Dr. R.W. “Bill” Hamilton, who passed away in 2011 at the age of 81. Hamilton, nicknamed The Prince of Gases, conducted research on dive physiology and the treatment of injured divers. He authored numerous papers, reports and workshop proceedings. He is perhaps best known for co-developing the Diving Computational Analysis Program (DCAP), a computer program that analyses and develops decompression procedures and schedules for a wide variety of exposures to pressure.
Applicants can be involved in any aspect of dive-related sciences, but the spirit of the program is to support projects closely related to Dr. Hamilton’s studies. The grant is open to applicants at any stage of their professional education or career, and recipients are required to present their results to DAN.

To apply for the R.W. Hamilton Memorial Dive Research Grant, email Frauke Tillmans at  [email protected] The deadline for applications is April 24, 2019. The grant recipient will be notified by May 15, 2019.

About DAN: The world’s most recognised and respected dive safety organisation, Divers Alert Network (DAN) has remained committed to the health and well-being of divers for 39 years. The organisation’s research, medical services and global-response programs create an extensive network that supports divers with vital services such as injury prevention, safety and educational programs and lifesaving evacuations. Every year, hundreds of thousands of divers around the world look to DAN as their dive safety organisation. Join the DAN community or learn more at

For more information, call Brian Harper at +1 (919) 684-2948, ext. 1271, or email him at [email protected].
DURHAM, NC – March 26, 2019 – Divers Alert Network is proud to provide internship opportunities to four accomplished individuals this summer. The DAN Internship Program was created more than 20 years ago to give qualified candidates valuable experience in dive safety research. While the program is still research-oriented, its scope has expanded over the years to include projects that focus on other facets of DAN’s mission to help divers in need of emergency medical assistance and to promote dive safety through education. This summer the selected candidates have been invited to spend three months at DAN Headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, working with the directors of DAN Research, DAN Medical Services, DAN Injury Monitoring and Prevention, and DAN Training.

Hannah DeWitt, a recent graduate of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, has been selected to work with Frauke Tillmans, Ph.D., in DAN Research. Hannah has a B.A. in biology and a minor in aquatics with a concentration in scuba diving. Hannah is an advanced open water diver and a rescue diver who is eager to learn more about the dive industry as she pursues dive physiology research with DAN this summer.

Elizabeth Helfrich, a McDermott Scholar and rising junior at the University of Texas at Dallas, is currently completing her degrees in biology and historical studies. This summer she will work with Matias Nochetto, M.D., studying children and diving. Her background as an EMT and divemaster along with extensive shadowing experience in pediatric medicine make her especially qualified to work on this project. Elizabeth hopes to one day practice undersea and hyperbaric medicine.  

Andrea Filozof is a post-baccalaureate student at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she is currently completing prerequisites for medical school. Prior to this internship Andrea spent eight years serving as an active-duty officer in the United States Army. During this time she focused primarily on civil-military operations and foreign humanitarian assistance but made time to become a certified diver as a member of an Army dive club. This summer she will be working with Allan Uribe, Ph.D., DAN’s director of injury monitoring and prevention. Andrea plans to eventually return to the military to practice medicine.  

Abigail S. Dias is a rising senior majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. A rescue diver, Abigail is committed to promoting marine conservation and preservation as well as safe diving in the Seattle-area diving community. This summer she will work with Patty Seery, director of training at DAN, to improve dive safety education materials. Following her internship Abigail will give a presentation about her experience and accomplishments at the Our World Underwater Scholarship Society’s Annual Scholar Weekend in New York.
“Each summer, DAN interns come through the door with unique skill sets and long lists of remarkable accomplishments,” said DAN vice president of mission Petar Denoble. “It is inspiring to work with these bright young students who have clear and personal missions to make the world a safer place to dive. It is even more inspiring to see what they accomplish after their internship with us. We are so grateful for the opportunity to foster future generations of dive safety leaders, year after year.”  

About DAN: The world’s most recognized and respected dive safety organization, Divers Alert Network (DAN) has remained committed to the safety and well-being of divers for 39 years. The organization’s research, medical services and global-response initiatives create an extensive network that supports divers with vital services such as injury prevention, safety and educational programs as well as lifesaving evacuations. Every year, hundreds of thousands of divers around the world look to DAN as their dive safety organization. Join the DAN community or learn more at

For more information, call Brian Harper at +1 (919) 684-2948, ext. 1271, or email him at [email protected].

Cannabis & Diving

Cannabis/ marijuana has been known to man for thousands of years.  It is believed to have originated in central Asia some 12,000 years ago and that it was widely used by Neolithic times for its protein-rich seeds, oils and fibers. Some of the earliest reports of its use date back to approximately 4000 BC, when it was actively farmed and considered one of the “five grains” in China.

Likewise, it was commonly used by the indigenous peoples of Southern Africa for many centuries – long before Europeans set foot on the continent.  The more common and “proudly South African” name (“dagga”) is actually a Khoi-derived word, which means “intoxication”.  In the year of his arrival (1652), Jan van Riebeeck already documented that dagga was used in South Africa.  We know that centuries ago, dagga was widely used for a variety of medical conditions.  Dr Russell Reynolds (the personal physician of Queen Victoria) published his experiences in using cannabis for a range of conditions and Queen Victoria allegedly used it to ease menstrual pain.

DAN Education

Whether it is being on the scene of an accident or witnessing a health-related emergency, most people will be involved in a crisis situation at some point in their lives. Are you prepared to help? Do you have the skills to respond quickly?

Developed by medical experts, DAN’s courses are easy to understand and designed to provide you with the skills and confidence you need to respond in emergency situations. DAN first aid courses prepare divers to manage injuries related to scuba diving. All courses meet the 2015 ILCOR and AHA CPR guidelines. The training can also extend to other environments. Isn’t it worth a few hours one evening or weekend to learn the skills that could save a life?

Alert Diver Magazine

Alert Diver is the dive industry’s leading publication. Featuring DAN’s core content of dive safety, research, education and medical information, each issue is a must-read reference, archived and shared by passionate scuba enthusiasts. In addition, Alert Diver showcases fascinating dive destinations and marine environmental topics through images from the world’s greatest underwater photographers and stories from the most experienced and eloquent dive journalists in the business.

Weight Training for Better Diving

It's not your imagination: Your 50-60 pounds of scuba gear feels heavier as you age. Sedentary people can lose as much as 5 percent of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. This muscle loss is called age-related sarcopenia.

Don't worry — this is, to some degree, preventable. All you have to do is participate in a strength-training program three days per week. Most age-related loss of muscle mass occurs in fast-twitch fibers, so target these fibers with heavier weight and more explosive movements. First, however, you must master proper form. A weight-training program that targets the muscles most used diving will allow you to do multi-day dives without undue strain or fatigue.

Strive to complete three sets of 10 for each of the following foundational lifts. To promote good form, be sure to allow sufficient rest in between attempts. Once these foundational lifts are mastered (i.e., the movements are mapped in your brain) you will be able to shorten your rest periods without risking injury. Always make sure you use collars on bars with weights to keep the plates from slipping off.

Frequently Ask Questions

Question: I’m getting a new tattoo on my thigh. Is it safe for me to go diving two days later?

Answer: Your tattoo artist will tell you how to properly care for the site of the tattoo and how to prevent infection. The general recommendation is to avoid immersing your tattoo in water — other than showering — until the area has healed (the skin is no longer flaking), which can take several weeks. Going diving two days after getting a tattoo is not recommended due to the risk of infection. As with any wound, be sure healing is complete before you dive.

Emergency Hotline Advice

Scuba diving accidents are rare, but they do happen. Knowing how to recognise and appropriately respond to diving injuries may benefit you or someone you care about.
One of the most common issues reported via the DAN Hotline is ear barotrauma.
Ear barotrauma is the most common injury in scuba diving. Barotrauma occurs when pressure outside the ear is greater than in the middle ear space, and the diver does not sufficiently equalise.

Symptoms of ear barotrauma may include:
  • Ears feel “full” or like they have water in them
  • Severe ear pain
  • Dizziness, vertigo, nausea
  • Muffled hearing, hearing loss, ringing in the ear
  • Red or swollen external ear
  • Blood or fluid oozing from ear
  • Pain when swallowing

If you or another diver experience any of the following symptoms, stop diving and seek medical care - ideally from an ear nose and throat specialist. After ruling out an infection, the doctor may recommend nasal steroid sprays, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, a hot compress or oral decongestants like pseudoephedrine.

Avoid ear barotrauma by equalising early and often. Never force your descent and avoid using decongestants.

Evacuation Options
As a standard rule, always prepare an emergency assistance plan (EAP) for your dive trip,
over and above planning your dive, even if you go to the same dive site regularly. Know what emergency resources are available in that area so that you can be prepared and informed of what time delay to expect before an ambulance or flight can get to you. This will also help in knowing what type of medical kit to take with.

The hotline can assist you with this if you are unsure where to start. You can simply email
[email protected] with your plans, and we will advise you what recourses are available in the area and what time delays are expected. From there you will know how to prepare optimally for an emergency.

In the Event of an Emergency
We would like to remind all our members to please contact the DAN hotline as soon as possible in the event of an emergency. The dive medical officer on duty will pre-approve any services that may be required and advise whether you are getting the correct medical care. Claims received that have not been pre-approved will be assessed upon their merits.

Emergency Hotline Reports

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