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DAN On-Site Neurological Assessment for Divers
Kemperite - 9/07/2008 1:08 AM
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Category: Educational
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DAN courses include more than just Oxygen. When most people think of Divers Alert Network two things come to mind. Dive Accident Insurance and Scuba Oxygen First Aid. My training partner Larry Zettwoch (z-man) was there in the very beginning. His Instructor Number is 25. Since that modest start in a small closet at Duke University DAN has grown into a research and training force in the Scuba industry. There are now 9 Dive Safety courses for Recreational Divers, 1 Dive Safety course for Professional Divers and a Hyperbaric Medicine course for Medical Professionals. Whether you are a Diver or an Instructor filling out your Dive Safety toolbox with training in these courses has become an absolute necessity.
The On-Site Neurological Assessment course teaches you how to conduct a neurological assessment on a potentially injured diver. The information gained in this assessment can help convince a diver of the need for oxygen first aid, and help a dive physician determine the proper treatment. Remember that denial is usually the first sign of DCI amongst many seasoned divers.

Approximately two-thirds of divers with decompression illness have evidence of damage to the nervous system. These signs are often vague and can go unrecognized by the diver. This can cause them to be dismissed as insignificant or not dive-related. Remember the note I made previously about the woman who had exceeded the No Decompression Limit on the table but blamed her signs on carrying tanks for multiple days? Stories like hers are the norm in diving rather than the exception.

The On-Site Neurological Assessment course focuses on how to obtain essential information about a diver involved in a dive emergency and what information to relay to emergency medical services. Remember, only medical professionals should diagnose medical conditions. The information you gather while performing a neurological assessment will be useful to help the dive physician understand the extent of the injury and how it has changed in the time it took to get the diver from the dive site to definitive care.
Essentially, you are the first person on the scene. You know what the diver looked like before the accident. You know what the diver looked like after the accident. You are probably with the diver up until the transfer to Advanced Life Support. You therefore have the opportunity to perform the field checks and make notes for the treating physician. DAN has also developed a handy slate that fits right inside the DAN Oxygen Kit Pelican Case. Use the slate to record all of your observations as well as a check list of all the steps in the assessment. The only thing missing in this equation is the proper training to conduct the assessment.
So as a diver you should ask for Neuro Training from your Instructor. As an Instructor you should be able to offer that training! As an Instructor Trainer you should be emphasizing to your Instructors how important it is to be a fully qualified professional who can train their students in all the necessary areas of diving and dive safety.
At the DEMA Show 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada we will be conducting the On-Site Neurological Assessment course for both Instructors and Instructor Trainers. The Instructor and Instructor Trainer courses will be held on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons to allow for maximum attendance and flexibility in your schedule while at the DEMA Show. For those who can’t make it to the DEMA Show this year the DAN Examiners are available to travel to your location for group class sessions.
On-Site Neuro has a few business advantages beyond just the addition to your diver’s safety toolbox. DAN Business Members are eligible to upgrade their store to a DAN Training Center when they have a DAN Diving Emergency Specialist Instructor or Instructor Trainer. A DAN Training Center has shown their commitment to Dive Safety by keeping a Diving Emergency Specialist Instructor or Trainer on staff to teach at least 5 of the DAN programs. In recognition of this DAN provides a special designation on their website business member directory and provides the DTC with half off on the purchase of all the required training materials. So Divers know that when they get their training from a DTC that the training will be provided by a competent Instructor or Instructor Trainer. DTC’s know that they have the highest qualified staff of Dive Safety Instructors teaching both diving as well as how to round out all of their educational needs.
In order to be a Diving Emergency Specialist Instructor a DAN Instructor must be certified in 5 modules and have completed 50 certifications spread appropriately through the 5 modules. Accelerated recognition can also be earned through a combination of training and classes. On-Site Neuro has become the newly requested fifth module by DAN Instructors and Trainers looking to help their store achieve DTC status.
So what we have learned is that On-Site Neuro can be used to help injured divers start Oxygen First Aid, it can be used to create a baseline so that treating physicians can possibly accelerate the regimen of treatment for maximum efficiency, it can be used to help Instructors and Instructor Trainers achieve their Diving Emergency Specialist Recognition and it can thus help DAN Business Member shops become DAN Training