DEPTH Blog

The most useful snippets from our authors, all in one place. DEPTH discusses topics of diving, equipment and environment, physics and physiology, technique and technology, and hyperbarics.

Salvaging Lives Through Dive Training with Fred Johnson

Salvaging Lives Through Dive Training with Fred Johnson

What do the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA), commercial dive training, and the NOAA Diving Manual 5th Edition textbook have in common? We found the answer when we were recently introduced to Fred Johnson of CALPIA by Dan Orr, author of Scuba Diving Safety and former President and CEO of Divers Alert Network.

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Nitrox Breathing Mixtures

Nitrox Breathing Mixtures

Divers have used air as a breathing gas since the beginning of diving. Its principal advantages are that it is readily available and inexpensive to compress into cylinders or use directly from compressors with surface-supplied diving equipment. Air is not the “ideal” breathing mixture for diving because of the decompression liability it imposes. Since decompression obligation is dependent on exposure to inspired PN2 (nitrogen partial pressure), this obligation can be reduced by replacing a portion of the nitrogen content of the diver’s breathing gas with oxygen, which is metabolized by the body. This is the fundamental benefit of enriched air nitrox (Nx) diving (Wells 1989). Historically, the two most commonly used nitrox mixtures in NOAA have been 32% and 36% oxygen. Once called NOAA Nitrox 32 (NN32) and NOAA Nitrox 36 (NN36), such mixtures are now identified using a more general nomenclature as Nx32 and Nx36. The remaining gas in nitrox mixes is considered to be nitrogen, even though it may contain other inert gases like argon. “Nitrox” is a generic term that can be used for any gaseous mixture of nitrogen and oxygen, but in the context of this chapter, the implication is that nitrox is a mixture with a higher concentration of oxygen than that of air. Using such oxygen enhanced mixtures can significantly increase the amount of time a diver can spend at depth without incurring additional decompression when compared to air diving.

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Contingency Planning

Contingency Planning

Performing repetitive dives requires a the use of a dive plan. The diver must know what the no-stop dive time limits will be for the dives prior to descending so as not to incur additional decompression obligations. A planned dive schedule will work assuming the diver adheres to the maximum depth and time parameters defined before descending; however, this does not always occur. There are many reasons why divers may find themselves deeper than planned. Some of these might include: higher than normal tides while working on a specific site, down-welling currents, the need to descend deeper to pick up tools or experimental apparatus that may have been dropped, the unexpected need to provide assistance to divers who are working at deeper depths (either on a routine or emergency basis), or perhaps just plain inattention of the divers.

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Thermal Stress Irrespective of Ambient Temperature

Thermal Stress Irrespective of Ambient Temperature

Thermal Stress Irrespective of Ambient TemperatureHypothermia is not a problem exclusive to frigid environments—it can occur irrespective of ambient temperature. Similarly, divers may also suffer extremes of hot and cold thermal stress simultaneously during the same dive. There have been documented cases of severe heat exhaustion in arctic waters by commercial divers as a result of wearing thick, occlusive drysuits, aggravated by dehydration from breathing dry compressed gas and perspiring from prolonged underwater swimming or heavy underwater work. Perspiration from excessive or from pre-dive overheating can also cause the diver’s drysuit underwear to lose insulation, thus predisposing him to hypothermia.

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