I worked with DAN’s Medical Department today, where I got to learn how emergency calls are handled. Every morning the team holds a recap meeting where they go over any unresolved calls from the previous day, and any calls that the “on-call” night person received. All of the cases, both opened and closed are entered into a database, and any of the people on-call have access to them. It’s a great system, because it means that it doesn’t matter who answers the phone, they have access to all of the information they need immediately.
I was actually able to sit-in for the day and listen to some of the incoming emergencies and questions. I learned what types of questions you need to ask right away to get a feel for how serious the injury it is, or if it is even a dive related injury. DAN also has access to a listing of all hyperbaric chambers in the world, and which ones are open for use. This makes it very easy for them to direct the caller to their nearest available help. DAN can even provide transport assist for its members to get to the treatment facility they need. But, while all of that sounds very exciting, it turns out that most of the time, the medical department deals with ear infections and directing people to see their nearest Primary Care Physician. Which is a good thing; because it means that diving safety practices are becoming more and more common.
While we were not on the phone, my host for the day, John Lee, showed me some old cases and explained how they handle some of the more “exciting” cases. He also provided me with a lot of books for further researching diseases and how they affect divers. Later in the afternoon John gave a presentation on recognizing the symptoms of decompression illness. It was extremely informative, and helpful to me as both a new, and ever-learning diver. After today I feel much more confident in my abilities to differentiate if symptoms are dive related or not. I feel like this is going to be an extremely useful, vital skill for me to have as I become a more advanced diver.