Decompression Illness (Article)

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Nick Bird, MD, MMM

About the Article

Written by Nick Bird, MD, MMM. former Chief Medical Officer and CEO of Divers Alert Network, this article explains decompression illness (DCI) in terms that are easy to understand. This article is for those who desire a solid understanding of decompresion sickness, arterial gas embolism (AGE), and DCI. Treatment of DCI and evacuation are also discussed. If you are an educator or dive leader, this article is a perfect tool to use with your open water, advanced open water or rescue diver students.

About the Author

Dr. Nicholas Bird is a fellowship-trained, board certified hyperbaric physician and the former CEO and Chief Medical Officer at Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) in Durham, NorthNick-Bird-MD-MMM Carolina. Prior to his position at DAN, he served as the Medical Director of Hyperbaric Medicine at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah. Additionally, Dr. Bird served in the United States Air Force as a flight surgeon and received his initial training and experience in hyperbaric medicine at Travis AFB while working as the Deputy Flight Commander of the hyperbaric /wound center. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Major, but not before serving as the final Commander of the Base Hospital in Jordan during Operation Iraqi Freedom

Earning his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1992, Dr. Bird went on to earn a medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin Ireland in 1999. He completed a residency in family medicine at the University of Washington and a fellowship in hyperbaric medicine at the University of California at San Diego. In addition to his fellowship training, he attended the US Air Force hyperbaric course, the International ATMO program, and the NOAA Diving Medical Officer course.

Dr. Bird has remained a clinical instructor in hyperbaric medicine and wound care.  He is an active member of the UHMS, works as part of the UHMS accreditation team, has authored articles and book chapters in diving medicine, is a member of the UHMS Diving Medicine Committee, and he has both attended and presented at multiple conferences on diving and hyperbaric medicine. Additionally, he served as the course director for the DAN DMT course and author of a revised series of DAN educational programs.

Raised in California, Dr. Bird has pursued his interest in diving from a young age. An avid diver, he was certified in 1984 and became a PADI Instructor in 1989. He now lives in North Carolina with his wife, daughter, grandson and Jack Russell terrier.

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