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Your DAN Card: Why It's One of Your Most Valuable Pieces of Dive Gear

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By Joel Dovenbarger, Vice President, DAN Medical Services

Two DAN Members were enjoying a week's vacation at their favorite Caribbean dive destination. On the morning of the fourth day of diving, the wife experienced soreness and swelling around one eye. The soreness was uncomfortable enough that she decided not to go on the morning dive. Instead, she went to her room to rest.

She took her normal pain medication, but the soreness continued throughout the day. The next morning when she woke up, the pain in her eye had worsened; her eye was swollen shut. She described the pain to her husband as shooting, stabbing and intermittent. After repeating this to the group leader for their dive party, he suggested that she call DAN for assistance.

What To Do Now?

This is a good example of some of the medical calls DAN gets through its 24-Hour Diving Emergency Hotline. As a vacationing DAN Member, you may have a problem and need medical assistance. Of course, you've called the right place: this is what the DAN TravelAssist benefit is all about. If, in the course of your illness, you require emergency medical evacuation, DAN will work with its travel assistance partner, MedAire, Inc. of Tempe, Ariz., to provide a variety of referrals and assistance to you as a DAN Member, no matter where you are.

In this case, a local DAN referral physician examined the DAN Member and referred her to a local ophthalmologist who diagnosed the condition and prescribed proper medications. Although the Member's illness was not the result of a dive injury, DAN still provided physician referrals and assistance for her when she became ill while traveling.

Dude, Where's My DAN Card?

How important is it to carry your DAN member card when you travel? Very. It provides the assurance that you are covered if an unexpected dive injury or accident occurs.

Always carry your DAN membership card in your wallet or purse, just like your everyday valuables. The front of your DAN card lists your type of DAN insurance coverage and expiration date and the non-emergency information telephone number for weekday calls. On the back, the card also lists important numbers you'll need wherever you travel. In your time of need, this is valuable information. The top three-quarters of your card bears emergency numbers, available 24/7; the bottom quarter holds the DAN information number, available weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Time.

Vaulting the Barriers: Some Tips for Travelers

The biggest obstacle to overseas assistance is usually the local telephone service. Once you travel outside the United States, available outgoing and incoming phone lines decrease. If possible, when calling DAN from outside the United States, give at least two telephone numbers where you can be reached or where a message can be left - for example, your hotel and room number and perhaps your dive operator.

In situations like these when you're calling to and receiving calls from areas outside North America, a second call to the Member is almost always needed, but there may be some issues to consider. Confirm the time difference if any, and set up a definite time when you can be reached. One of the biggest issues in re-contacting DAN Members is the limited quality of overseas phone lines. If you don't hear from DAN, make a second call to the DAN Diving Emergency Hotline number shown on the back of your membership card.

The Diving Emergency Hotline

Take a moment to read the back of your DAN card now. On the top you will find two dive emergency numbers: +1-919-684-8111, which you should dial directly, and +1-919-684-4326, which you should call if you need to make a collect call. The pluses at the beginning of the number are a reminder to all callers that they need to remember to dial the country code. If, for example, you're calling from outside the United States, you would dial +1-919-684-8111, because the U.S. country code is "1.") Member cards issued in 2004 also list the Latin America Hotline number (+1-919-684-9111), where speakers of Spanish and Portuguese can receive help.

If you have been diving and suspect a dive-related illness, call the 24-Hour Diving Emergency Hotline. Don't wait for days to see if the pain or discomfort goes away. There may be a point where recompression chamber therapy is less effective or useful in resolving symptoms.

The Non-Diving Emergency Line (DAN TravelAssist)

Moving down your card, you'll see the number for Non-Diving Emergencies: 1-800-326-3822. This is the toll-free number for DAN TravelAssist. When you are a DAN Member who needs to arrange covered medical and visitor transportation emergency services, call DAN TravelAssist at 1-800-326-3822 (outside the United States, call +1-919-684-3483 collect). This number, available 24/7, helps arrange transportation provided by MedAire, Inc. of Tempe, Ariz. in order for evacuation fees to be paid. (Expenses not arranged through DAN TravelAssist will not be reimbursed, so remember to call this number first.)

If you experience discomfort, illness or have a medical emergency, call the Non-Diving Emergency number (DAN TravelAssist) as soon as the discomfort or symptoms become a concern for you. If you're calling from anywhere outside the United States and Canada, use the direct line +1-919-684-2948. Remember, the U.S country code is "1"; and you may call collect.

Keep Your Numbers With You

DAN Members can get verification over the telephone. Callers whose memberships have expired sometimes begin their assistance call with "I think I'm still a DAN Member, but I don't have my card with me." The good news is that all assistance calls require that Members be verified. Providing your full name, address and date of birth will usually get the job done, but it's easier and faster if you can give your DAN Member number at the beginning of the call.

Between the 24-Hour Diving Emergency Hotline and the Non-Diving Emergency line at TravelAssist, DAN gets hundreds of medical emergency calls each year and gives appropriate referrals for assistance. We want this process to run smoothly for you.

The Medical Information Line

At the bottom of your DAN card, you'll find the "information" section. There, you'll see the number for Non-Emergency Dive Questions and Other DAN Services: +1-919-684-2948. If you have a question about your membership, insurance status, need to find a dive doctor in your area, or need information on diving with a stuffy nose, this is the number to call. The DAN staff is here to help.

Don't wait to call. If you have an emergency, call sooner than later. Know where your card is and keep it with you when you go diving. Did you know you can get a printout of your card information by going to the DAN website?*

Most importantly, plan ahead. Before you start packing your bags, make sure your membership and insurance coverage are up to date. Remember, your DAN membership card is one of the most important pieces of dive equipment you can take on any trip.

* To do this, go here. You'll register using your DAN Member number (find it on the front of your DAN card) and by choosing a password. After you log in, you'll get to view your member account. At the bottom of this page, find the category "Member Resources" and "Print Card" below that. The rest is smooth sailing! If you haven't already registered with your member number and password on the website, do it today!

From Alert Diver, July / August 2004