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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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