Let’s face the facts, diving accidents do happen. Thankfully not too often, but as an active scuba diver the law of probability states that sooner or later I will encounter some kind of first aid emergency. With this in mind I would hate to be unprepared or unable to help someone in their moment of need. So when I saw the advert on DAN Europe’s website promoting the diver medic technician (DMT) course run by Code Blue Education, I thought this was the perfect time for a refresher on the latest medical techniques and procedures.
As well as covering the basic ABC’s the 2-week (80 hour) course entered into the realms of suturing, IV cannulation, catheterisation and dealing with a real life pneumothorax. I was really looking forward to the suturing session but the thought of catheterising a patient didn’t really fill me with inspiration. In fact I went weak at the knees just thinking about the procedure.
My last dabble with any form of medical training was a St John’s Ambulance first aid at work course several years ago. I was worried that my level of knowledge would be way below the required standard, but Chantelle Taylor-Newman, Director of Code Blue Education, reassured me that my background would be fine. I didn’t need to bring along any materials as everything from tea, coffee, soft drinks and chocolate muffins to all the course notes and even my own personal stethoscope would be included. I was already starting to get delusions (but then again, Doctor Philpott did have a certain ring to it!).
Chantelle said the DMT course is aimed at commercial and recreational divers. It’s actually an offshore requirement to have one DMT in each commercial diving team. Chantelle, who is also a certified PADI Divemaster, said “The DMT course is designed for commercial divers, but these days there seems to be more accidents in recreational diving, so I feel that it should be taught to all recreational divers as well.”
Code Blue Education is based in Brentford, London. They offer the full range of DAN courses up to Instructor level. The DAN/IMCA (International Marine Contractors Association) accredited DMT course is a new addition to their medical training portfolio. Chantelle said “We are looking at running the course every 2-3 months.” The content is currently around 40% theory and 60% practical work. There is a mid-week multiple choice exam followed by a final written and practical exam watched over by a practising medical professional.
Chantelle gave me some website links for pre-course reading, so when I turned up on Monday morning, I was raring to go. Even having to give a personal introduction in front of the group couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm. There was a good mix of people from different countries and job backgrounds. Andrea had just completed a commercial job looking for dead bodies on the Concordia cruise liner in Italy, and Oliver had been welding pipe work inside a sewage tank somewhere in Oz. Jason was studying economics in Scotland and Chris was working for the forestry commission in the home counties. The white collar workers were represented by Morne from DAN South Africa and Clive who owned 2 decompression chambers in Cyprus.
The first two days mainly consisted of theory focusing on physiology and basic first aid principles. Chantelle emphasised that hygiene was extremely important by saying “you can find faecal matter just about everywhere” (that’s such a nice thought!). Guest speaker Cary Marcelo, a care procedures and resuscitation Instructor working at Harley Street, went through the signs, symptoms and treatment for patients suffering from a variety of injuries. We had quite a few acronyms to remember. ABCDE and SAMPLE were the most widely used. Cary’s catchphrase was “Always treat what kills first.” During the practical sessions everybody had to wear gloves and use the oral nasal masks. I never realised how easy it was to use an AED (automated external defibrillator) – the unit basically talked me through the whole procedure. We also went through how to check blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope.
Police diver Steve McKenna turned up mid-week to go through wounds, bleeding and fractures. Steve has worked with the marine unit for the past 14 years and gets called out on jobs anywhere in London. He had some very interesting (and gory) stories about past investigations. I can still visualise the picture showing a severed penis! Steve’s catchphrase was “We are going to lose people.” Steve explained that even with first aid treatment some people will die; in fact, the actual quoted figure is a 5% survival rate if an accident happens out on the street.
The day wouldn’t be complete without a few new acronyms to memorise. This time SAFE and RICE seemed to be the favourites. By far the best product Steve showed us was Celox. The haemostatic granules were developed for military use to stop severe bleeding. They are now being used by civilian paramedics. DAN even sells the packs on their website. The practical session using spinal boards, scoop stretchers and cervical collars gave everybody a chance to stretch their legs. I soon realised that trying to manoeuvre a stretcher and patient up and over objects and around tight corners is not an easy task.
To finish off the week we had a theory day on diving physics and diving related injuries. I already knew most of the information from my PADI Divemaster days so this was really just a refresher. Some of the pictures of skin and facial barotraumas (suit and mask squeeze) looked horrendous, but Chantelle reassured us that the injuries had healed up without any permanent injury.
The second week involved more complex procedures starting with IV cannulation. I am not a fan of needles so this was quite an interesting session. We all got to practise on the plastic/rubber training arms that were filled with fake blood. Even I managed to get the procedure right after a few tries. Catheterisation had everybody grimacing apart from Chantelle who seemed to be smiling as she performed the delicate demonstration. Watching someone put a 30cm long catheter inside a penis brought tears to my eyes (it wasn’t a real penis I might add. We used a training manikin). This is one procedure I would not want to do in real life. Morne, from DAN South Africa, pointed out to me that the correct medical term for the male genitalia is a winky!
Doctor Mark Downs was our next guest speaker. Mark is an HSE Medical Examiner. He is one of only eighty doctors in the country that can conduct commercial diving medicals. Mark is an active PADI Divemaster and has been diving for 10 years. We listened to Mark’s presentations on diving related accidents and how to check out a possible bends case. Mark said “the 5 minute neuro exam provides a reliable system to judge the urgency of a diving emergency. It also demonstrates to the diver involved that there is a problem and convinces them to commence oxygen first aid treatment.” Mark’s catchphrase was “Oxygen is the answer to all diving related injuries.” He stated that in two thirds of all DCI cases there will be some kind of neuro damage, which is quite a sobering thought. We looked at the DDRC, DAN and Mark Powell’s neuro assessment sheets and tried them out on each other for good measure.
Before taking the dreaded exams we spent an interesting day with Spencer Phillips at the Diver Clinic’s recompression chamber based in Reading. Spencer has more than 20 years experience in decompression therapy. We sat through an in-depth presentation on the ‘bends’ going through the general causes and treatments. Spencer said he had recently seen an increase in trimix rebreather related incidents quoting one particular case where a woman wasn’t carrying any bale out gas for a dive in the 50-100m range. When the unit failed she came to the surface missing a considerable amount of deco time. Spencer quoted some interesting statistics. He said that in the UK there is a one fatality per 200,000 dives and one decompression related incident for every 5,000 dives. Rapid ascents seemed to be the main problem. Between 70-80% of the cases he treats are Type 1 bends. 98% of symptoms appear within 24 hours, 50% are within the first hour. Spencer said “time to treatment is crucial for getting a good result.”
On the final day everybody passed the written exams and scenarios with flying colours. Code Blue Education’s second ever DMT course had been a resounding success. The problem I find with any course is trying to retain all the relevant information. After 2 full weeks of theory and practical sessions my brain was about to explode. I had thoroughly enjoyed the course, especially the practical scenarios. Having specialists speakers come in and give presentations definitely made the course more interesting and helped increase everyone’s attention span, although on a few occasions listening to different perspectives did lead to confusion as to what was the correct procedure to use.
Going through accident scenarios in a controlled classroom environment is never the same as facing a real life emergency situation. I kept wondering, how would I react? What I do know is Code Blue Education’s DMT course has certainly raised my first aid skill levels, so if there ever was a situation I had a far better chance of helping someone out.
Participant Fact File
Name: Morne Christou
Resides: Jo’burg, South Africa
Job title: DAN South Africa Office Manager
Years in diving: 12
Qualifications: PADI Instructor
Reasons for participating: To further my knowledge and see how the course is run from a DAN perspective so we can work together with Code Blue on future courses.
Observations: Great course, lots of information I didn’t know. Long days so need to stay focused.
Guest Speakers: From my experience it’s nice to have different speakers. It adds to the dynamics although sometimes there was conflicting information.
Best moments: Definitely the practical sessions, I can really relate to it.
Name: Clive Martin
Resides: Larnaca, Cyprus
Job title: Decompression Chamber owner
Years in diving: 27
Qualifications: PADI Master Instructor, BSAC Advanced Instructor
Reasons for participating: Increase knowledge.
Observations: Overall I really enjoyed the course. It’s not just diver related, other injuries are included.
Guest Speakers: Not so monotonous with other speakers, it really broke up the days.
Best moments: The hand’s on stuff, scenarios, especially the IV, advanced airway and suturing.
Name: Jason Teoh
Resides: Malaysia, Kuala Lumpa
Job title: Student studying economics at St Andrews in Scotland.
Years in diving: 5
Qualifications: PADI Instructor, Emergency Medical Technician.
Reasons for participating: I already have basic EMT knowledge but wanted more diving related knowledge.
Observations: Very informative. It covers lots of topics and encompasses lots of diving aspects. I originally trained on the American system so it was good to learn the European standard.
Guest Speakers: It was nice to get different perspectives.
Best moments: Definitely the suturing.
Name: Chris Jenkins
Resides: UK, Devon
Job title: MD of a forestry company
Years in diving: 2
Qualifications: PADI Rescue Diver
Reasons for participating: Increase personal knowledge.
Observations: I haven’t wasted my time, it was a good course. On a medical level I learnt an adequate amount. I would recommend it to the right person.
Guest Speakers: Nice to break the 2 weeks with different speakers.
Best moments: the practical sessions, especially life support.
Name: Andrea Cerilli
Resides: Monza, Italy
Job title: Commercial Diver
Years in diving: 4 years as a commercial diver, 8 saturation jobs including the Concordia.
Qualifications: PADI Instructor, air and saturation diver
Reasons for participating: There has to be a DMT on every sat diving team. It’s nice to learn more so maybe I can help someone.
Observations: Generally very good, I learnt a lot.
Guest Speakers: I liked the different lectures. It was nice to hear them talking about their own experiences.
Best moments: the practical
Name: Oliver Bittar
Resides: Perth, Australia
Job title: Commercial Diver, NW shelf
Years in diving: 4 years as a commercial diver
Qualifications: SSI Master Diver, commercial air diver, degree in marine biology
Reasons for participating: Gain better employment opportunities, extra knowledge.
Observations: Brilliant, really like the course. Lots of information condensed into 2 weeks, particularly the 2nd half. Good course construction and particularly good revision for me.
Guest Speakers: Having specialists added a massive part to being a good course.
Best moments: The hands on practical, especially the IV cannulation.
Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 1
Over the next seven days, join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy as we publish a Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.
Deptherapy made the very brave decision to book an expedition to our home in Egypt as soon as Roots Red Sea received their certificate from the Egyptian Authorities that the camp and dive centre was COVID secure. Roots is one of very few resorts to receive a certificate from the Egyptian Government.
We arrived in Roots the day after they re-opened.
Getting together an expedition was a major task. Very few Approved Medical Examiners’ of Divers or Dive Referees are conducting consultations at the moment. Availability of beneficiaries and the requirement to quarantine on return from Egypt affected the number of beneficiaries available.
There was also a requirement to pass a COVID PCR virus test within 72 hours of travelling.
We had decided on a small expedition and on the day of travel we had six flying to Egypt. Unfortunately, Chris Middleton had to drop out the day before we travelled after emergency wisdom tooth surgery.
Our group comprised of Richard Cullen, Michael Hawley, Tom Oates, Tom Swarbrick, Keiron Bradbury and Corey Goodson. Keiron was undertaking his RAID Master Rescue Course and, as it turned out, Corey was undertaking the RAID Open Water 20 course.
Our outbound flight was before midday on Saturday 10 October and I must admit we were all shocked at how deserted was. Checking in with easyJet took minutes and when we boarded the plane, we found it less than half full.
Corey is a paraplegic since a car accident two years ago while he was training prior to joining the Royal Anglian Regiment. Corey has no sensation below the waist and is unable to use his legs. The cabin crew on our flight were quite amazed to see the two Toms and Michael lift him from his wheelchair and place him in his seat for the flight.
Mask protocols were strictly observed by the team, the flight was uneventful, and the easyJet Cabin Crew superb. We also took a digital thermometer to check temperatures prior to flying.
Hurghada Airport was very quiet and we moved through Immigration and collected our baggage in very quick time.
Two things to note: If you are travelling to Hurghada you need to complete a COVID declaration for the Egyptian Authorities. If not, you have to fill out the rather lengthy form when you arrive. You can undertake a COVID test on arrival at Hurghada Airport but the queues are long. It costs much less than the tests we had done in the UK – BUT – you are required to be quarantined at your hotel until the test result comes through. This means two days with no access to resort facilities. If the test comes back as positive you have at least two weeks being confined to your room.
Transport to Roots was, as ever, on hand and we were soon at the camp and being briefed about the COVID arrangements. A lot of work has been put in place to make Roots COVID compliant – and all at considerable expense.
None of the usual hugs with the Roots team and you have your temperature checked every morning and every time you return from the dive centre. Your dive kit is sterilised every night ready for the next day’s diving.
We all felt very COVID secure.
Check back for tomorrow’s Blog and our first day diving…
Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk
Dive Instructor! Is Your Paycheck rubbish? Here’s 4 passive income ideas for Scuba Pros (Watch Video)
How much money does a Dive Instructor make? The easy answer is not much. Here’s 4 ways a Scuba Diving Professional can diversify their income streams.
You hear it all the time: Being a Scuba Diving Instructor is a labor of love. Why is it that Scuba Instructors, when compared to almost any other professional in a sports training or educational role, make less money? Well, we’re not going to dive into that topic, because nobody here has the time for that!
What we are going to do is give you 4 ideas for generating passive income using your expertise as a Dive Instructor. Each of the ideas requires a little effort and investment on your part, but with a long term strategy, you can absolutely add money to your monthly income.
If you’ve just finished your Instructor Development Course, I strongly encourage you to diversify your income streams by trying your hand at some or all of the ideas we explain in this video.
We want to thank all of our subscribers for supporting this channel and being such an active and engaged audience! We appreciate you all! And thanks for making our most recent video our most watched video yet!
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