The Dive industry will come together on November 16, 2012, to celebrate the exceptional careers of Dan Orr and Richard “Dick” Rutkowski, recipients of the 2012 DEMA Reaching Out Award (ROA). These newest additions to DEMA’s Hall of Fame will be honored at this year’s DEMA Awards Party taking place at the Hard Rock Hotel’s premiere event and music venue, The Joint. First awarded in 1989, the Reaching Out Award honors diving community leaders whose significant contributions to the sport have elevated the industry for all and this year’s recipients, Dan Orr and Richard Rutkowski join an extraordinary list of distinguished past honorees.
Dan Orr is best known for his work to make diving as safe as possible. He has been a diver for nearly 50 years and a dive professional for over 40 years. Throughout the years, Orr has been involved in many facets of recreational, commercial, scientific and military diving. He has worked and taught recreational diving in a retail store, developed and implemented course curricula in the university/academic environment, supervised research efforts in the field of scientific diving, tested diving equipment for military contractors and served on the boards of various nonprofit organizations.
Currently the President of Divers Alert Network (DAN), his more than 21 years at DAN have helped the nonprofit focus on its mission to help divers in need worldwide while promoting successful business and administrative practices. One of his first projects at DAN was developing and implementing the DAN Oxygen Program. This program has become the worldwide standard in training to provide emergency oxygen to injured divers. Prior to that, he worked with both Florida State and Wright State Universities to help make their diver education and safety programs some of the most comprehensive educational experiences available.
In addition to working for Divers Alert Network, Dan has published or contributed to more than 100 articles and a dozen books and manuals including Scuba Diving Safety, Pocket Guide to First Aid for Scuba Diving Injuries, Pocket Guide for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries, the NOAA Diving Manual and numerous articles in national and international magazines and journals.
Orr continues to be one of the core leaders to promote the sport of diving and safety. He has been recognized by his peers by being the recipient of many prestigious awards including the Wright State University Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence, the NOGI Award in Sports/Education, the Leonard Greenstone Award for Outstanding Contributions to Diving Safety, the Our World Underwater Award, the NAUI Award for Outstanding Contributions to Diving, the Alberta Underwater Council’s Award of Merit, Beneath the Sea’s Diver of the Year, the DAN Asia-Pacific Contributions to Diving Safety Award and the Wyland Foundation Award for Lifetime Achievement. Dan is also a member of the Hall of Fame for Divers with Disabilities.
Richard “Dick” Rutkowski is a pioneer in the fields of hyperbaric and diving medicine and diver training, especially in relation to the use of breathing gases. He helped change the course of modern diving through his continued efforts to test and promote the use of mixed gases, such as Nitrox and Trimix. His work helped develop technical diving and clinical hyperbaric medicine as we know it today. In 1973, Rutkowski became a NOAA Aquanaut working in the undersea lab located in Freeport, Bahamas. During this time he was directed to obtain a recompression chamber for NOAA to serve the recreation and military diving communities in areas of Miami, Fla., as well as Central and South America.
In addition to his affiliation with NOAA, Rutkowski is a graduate of Divers Training Academy and past owner and president of “Dive Incorporated,” a commercial diving company whose primary purpose was to service oil rigs. Upon retiring from federal service in 1985, he formed Hyperbarics International, Inc., to educate and consult in the field of hyperbaric medicine, use of various diving gases and life support systems.
Since retiring from NOAA, Rutkowski has continued to use his vast knowledge to conduct training programs for NOAA and other agencies such as U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, NASA, EPA, U.S. Customs, Panama Canal Commission, hospitals, commercial diving companies and foreign navies. Rutkowski has taught thousands of professionals in programs such as recompression chambers, engineering, diving gases, physics, physiology, pathophysiology and medical aspects of diving. His contributions to hyperbaric medicine and his work with mixed breathing gases have made diving a much safer sport today.
DEMA congratulates Dan and Dick for their service to our industry.