by Sean Harrison:
ERDI was invited, along with several other industry professionals, to attend a workshop that focused on the health and well being of public safety divers and their support teams. The workshop was hosted by UC San Diego Health Sciences, Center of Excellence in Diving; and sponsored by: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, OxyHeal Health Group, Divers Alert Network (DAN), ScubaPro, and Diving Unlimited International (DUI). Just by looking over the host and the list of sponsors, you can tell that this was not your average workshop.
The stated goal was, “To create knowledge and competencies in recreational, scientific, commercial, military and public safety through diving research, education, and ocean conservation.” One might wonder how do all these very different sectors of diving relate? Well, there is one common denominator… the water. From the brand new open water diver to the best trained combat diver, every one of us is subjected to the same environmental factors, we may have different reasons for being in that environment but nevertheless, we are being exposed to the same things.
ERDI began its quest to educate the public safety diver of the hazards, concerns, potential exposures and mitigation strategies to protect against these contaminates in 2010 by publishing the Contaminated Water Diving Operations manual. ERDI welcomed the invitation to contribute to the health of the divers and to the environment.
A lot of topics and ground were covered during this workshop. There were some reoccurring topics that need to be addressed and some new ones. With the wide range of experience that was in the room, there was a flurry of conversation and some very sensitive topics exposed. The end goal was always the safety and well being of the divers, no matter what the reason was the diver was in the water.
Since this was the first meeting, everyone involved was sent home with one goal… go on a fact-finding mission, and learn what the divers in our respective communities are feeling. For the public safety diver this could mean some self reflection – how did I feel before and after that dive, how did I feel two days after that dive?
Every new venture takes a while to mature and public safety diving is no different. While divers have been going in the water for many years to recover objects and bodies, public safety diving is really only now coming to the forefront and gaining enough attention as a service that is desperately needed by the community it serves. The end result is: with enough awareness and research data, teams that need funding to obtain necessary training and equipment, will have the documentation they need to support their requests. For the teams that are already well funded, they will benefit by continuing to do their job with the most current equipment and training and… maybe even an “I told you so.”
ERDI will continue to assist with this important mission in any way we can. We will also keep you up-to-date on any progress that is made. For more information or to see how you can be involved visit the UC San Diego Health Sciences website or keep checking back to ERDI News for updates.