DAN Technical Diving Conference Receives Rave Reviews

9/15/2008 5:15:22 PM

Reactions to the 2008 Technical Diving Conference, which DAN® hosted Jan. 18-19, have been consistent and enthusiastic. Attendees from the United States and various parts of the world praised the dynamic discussions and workshop contents.

More than 165 persons attended the two-day conference in Durham, N.C.; it consisted of four half-day workshops addressing physiology, decompression, rebreathers and training, with discussions targeting operational and medical aspects of technical diving. Participants came from across the United States and from the following countries: Finland, the United Kingdom, Canada, American Samoa, Australia, New Zealand and Grand Cayman.

Richard D. Vann, Ph.D., event organizer and vice president of DAN Research, said the conference objectives were to establish communications among technical divers, diving physicians and diving scientists, to provide objective information concerning what is known and unknown, and to establish the need for data collection and quantitative analysis to answer unresolved questions.

“Attendees were enthusiastic,” Vann said. “They found the breadth of the information exciting, and they took advantage of opportunities to meet members of the technical diving community who they had not known.”

Simon Mitchell, M.D., one of four workshop chairman and a fellow in anesthesia at the Auckland City Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, said he had never experienced anything like it. “It is the first time technical divers have had the opportunity to interact with experts in the field of dive medicine and dive physiology,” Mitchell said. “They have had many of their unanswerable questions answered by experts you trust.”

Dan Orr, DAN president and CEO, called the event a starting point. “Whether discussing deep stops, oxygen toxicity, thermal issues or other such topics, where do we go from here?” Orr said. “Given its position in the dive industry, DAN should be the focus and provide a forum to bring together parties for the exchange of information on technical issues.”

Kathy Weydig, DAN Board member and conference presenter, placed the event in context, both present and future. “The conference was what the industry will recognize as the jumping-off point with significant lasting impact in disseminating technical diving information to the community,” Weydig said. “The presenters and audience consisted of M.D.s, Ph.D.s, researchers, students, divers and explorers with important research and/or expeditions to share. And share we did!

“This has to be the first, with perhaps a conference every 18 to 24 months. But that will depend on DAN staff. The community is in need of an event of this magnitude.”

Conference participant Suzanne Garrett is an advanced diver with Nitrox certification. She is the diving program coordinator at Oceana, an environmental organization promoting healthy oceans. “Many technical divers experience a very unique part of the ocean, at depths still largely under exploration,” Garrett said. “We are interested in working with the technical diving community to protect these ecosystems and highlight the contributions of deep-ocean dive expeditions and their discoveries.

“The conference provided me the opportunity to learn more about the training and research involved in becoming a safe technical diver, and I have a greater appreciation of these adventurous divers.”

Petar Denoble, M.D., senior research director at DAN and a workshop chairman, said most participants he talked to admitted that, among other things, they learned more about the effects of carbon dioxide on divers than they previously thought possible. “For the first time, this complex issue was explained in a way understandable to most divers,” Denoble said. “Lecture after lecture shed light on many subjects, including aspects of carbon dioxide in diving. Among other things, they took home the message that diving limits imposed by CO2 must be taken seriously.”

Orr commended Vann, the DAN Research department, Cindi Easterling and others who contributed to the outstanding success of the conference. “It was well attended, as most of the two days were standing-room only,” Orr said. “Virtually every area of the diving community was represented, and the consensus was that this was one of the best conferences ever held in the diving community.”

For more details, visit the DAN website at http://www.DiversAlertNetwork.org .

Online information will include audio, Powerpoint slides and videos regarding the conference. In six to 12 months, DAN will also publish proceedings of the conference.

Sidebar 1

The Conference Consisted of Four Half-Day Workshops

  • physiology, with presentations on respiration, central nervous system (CNS) oxygen toxicity, narcosis and high pressure nervous syndrome (HPNS), and thermal;
  • decompression, with presentations on pathophysiology, risk factors, deep stops, therapy and risk assessment;
  • rebreathers, with presentations on U.S. Navy and United Kingdom testing procedures, USN accident investigations and a panel discussion with rebreather manufacturers; and
  • training, with presentations on risk management, risk factors and a panel discussion with technical diving instructors.

Sidebar 2

Participants React to Technical Diving Conference

  • “DAN again has done a superb job! Exceptionally pragmatic and informative. Extremely well orchestrated.”
  • “Excellent content and feedback between the audience and panels.”
  • “I expected it to be much more focused on the physicians; I was pleasantly surprised.”
  • “Thank you, DAN, for an excellent first effort. Well done!”
  • “Great. We need more like this.”
  • “This conference will be hard to match in the future.”
  • “The location was great, the food was great, and the topics were very interesting.”