DAN Medical Frequently Asked Questions

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Why DAN Does not Provide Chamber Location Information

I don't understand why DAN doesn't tell divers where the closest chamber is? This could be important in an emergency.

DAN frequently consults on the care, transport and hyperbaric treatment of injured divers but does not provide chamber location information. This is an effort to get divers with a suspected decompression illness into hospital care.

In the past, divers would often drive past legitimate health-care facilities to get to a recompression chamber. Even when divers surface with clear symptoms of an arterial gas embolism, the treatment of choice is the local emergency service and hospital. Your best option is to use existing emergency services for an injured diver.

The reasons:

  • Hospitals and urgent-care facilities have an unlimited supply of oxygen, intravenous fluids and medications.

  • A physician/emergency care provider needs to rule out other illness such as pneumothorax (collapsed lung), myocardial infarction (heart attack), and neurological and musculoskeletal injuries with symptoms similar to DCI.

  • An injured patient needs to be stabilized before and during transport and should be transferred under medical supervision.

  • Transporting a diver without a proper evaluation may adversely affect the diver's health and treatment outcome.

  • A chamber's operational status can change. Chambers may close for scheduled maintenance, staff vacation or a limited staff because of a high daytime patient treatment load. The chamber you are driving to may not be available. Prior notification from an evaluating facility is usually necessary to begin the call-in procedure to staff a hyperbaric treatment. Finally, most hyperbaric facilities have regular daytime business hours and are not staffed in the evenings and on weekends. In fact, some chamber facilities choose not to staff their unit after hours and do not wish to treat divers. Most cases of decompression sickness report for evaluation after normal business hours.

Divers traveling outside the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) and Canada may contact the DAN information line for chamber information appropriate to their destination. Keep in mind that DAN is not the only resource for chamber information for travel abroad. It also is reasonable and appropriate to obtain this information from the planned dive operator/resort before arrival. Please understand that the same issues that affect availability with domestic chambers can also affect international chambers.

If you suspect a diver has a dive-related injury and needs evaluation, you should safely:

  • Monitor airway, breathing, circulation
  • Provide 100 percent oxygen if you are a trained oxygen provider.
  • Call the local EMS for transport or assist in the transport of the injured diver to medical care.
  • Call the DAN Emergency Hotline at +1-919-684-9111 (emergencies can call collect) for consult and advice.

If you are uncertain about symptoms that occur hours or days after diving, and there is no emergency, or you wish to ask questions about the signs and symptoms of decompression illness, contact the DAN Information Line at +1-919-684-2948, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.