Day 2:Seminars and the Show

It was another full day of seminars.

DAN-Physiological Aspects of Breath-hold diving

DAN-Medical issues in Closed Circuit Diving

DAN-PFO & the Risk of DCS

PADI-GoPro nights

DAN-Toxicological Aspects of Marine Life

DAN-Demystifying Hyperbaric Treatment of Divers


Breath-hold diving isn’t as benign as we might like to think.   I’ve taught recreational skin diving and had a reasonable understanding of the hypoxia of ascent (sometimes called shallow-water blackout).   The explanations in this seminar, though, really put it all together.   The key points are: you can black out with ZERO warning, and even after ascending and taking a breath at the surface, you can still black-out.   What does that mean?   Have adequate support–a buddy or other support team that can come get you if you are in trouble.  Have your buddy observe you after you are on the surface–remember, you can still black out after you hit the surface.

Closed-circuit:   This is probably the most prolific new item at the show.  Closed-circuit rebreathers, both for technical and recreational diving.   That also means there are issues we need to start looking at.   Rebreathers are not designed for rapid ascents and descents.   They are complicated devices and they have to adjust your breathing gas mix as you dive.   It’s possible for the gas mix to not have enough oxygen in it as you ascend, which could lead to hypoxia and loss-of-consciousness.   Proper training and equipment maintenance are essential.

Break from the seminars to walk the floor…   Lots of stuff to see, but as I mentioned above, rebreathers are the hot new toy this season.   The good news is that we’ll probably see them drop in price so they’ll become more accessible for divers.

I spent some time at the DAN booth:

Some cool new toys (soft-side O2 kits, First Aid Kits, O2+First Aid kits) and their business membership is evolving into their new Industry Partner Program.   That will open it up to others in the diving world that aren’t just brick & mortar dive shops.

I also hung out at the Project AWARE booth, talking to Ania and Jenny about how to better integrate Project AWARE into scuba programs and non-diving programs.

I’ve you’ve not already, please sign the Shark petition (right side of this page).


Back to the seminars…

PFO & DCS:   Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) is an opening between the sides of the heart that we all have as a fetus and for most of us eventually seals up by about age 2.   It’s thought that PFO’s might predispose divers to having Decompression Sickness(DCS).   Why, you might ask, is that?   Well, about 20-30% of people continue to have this opening throughout their life and it has the potential for allowing bubbles to cross from the venous circulation to arterial, which might lead to serious neurological DCS if the bubbles head to the brain.    The interesting thing is, while 20-30% of people have PFO’s, 40% of people with DCS seem to have them.   The key thing here is, PFO’s don’t cause DCS–bubbles do!   So, even if you have a PFO, if you can avoid bubble-producing dives (e.g., extreme dives), and dive conservatively, you could be fine.   PFO’s have gotten a lot of diving-related press.   From this seminar, I’d agree with the speaker–unless you’ve had multiple DCS hits that seem unreasonable for the dives, it’s not worth worrying about.

In order to get to the PADI GoPro seminar, I had to leave the PFO seminar a bit early.   The PADI GoPro seminar was excellent.   If you’ve never heard James Morgan from PADI speak, you’ll know why.  If not, you’re missing out.   James gave us a lot of incentive to have GoPro nights and while the events are targeted towards becoming a dive professional, that doesn’t mean we should solely talk to Rescue Divers and Divemasters.    As dive professionals, we have the best job in the world.  Others want our jobs.   To get there, though, requires training.   For dive shops, resorts and instructors–even if you’re not involved in creating Divemasters and Instructors–there is a lot to do to get those divers ready to become a Pro.    All-in-all, this is a great thing for our industry.

Back to the DAN seminars…

Toxicological aspects of marine life injuries.   Sounds pretty complex, right?   In some respects, perhaps.   The cool aspect, for me, was some of the explanations of why we treat certain injuries the way we do.   Some injuries are incredibly painful–but not fatal.   Some envenomations are painless, but carry a neurotoxin that can be lethal.   For example, the Blue Ring Octopus.  Painless bite, but the neurotoxin can be deadly.   The toxin, though, primarily hits the respiratory system.   That means that if recognized early, with adequate manual ventillations, a patient can make it to advanced care and survive.  I could include a lot more, but taking a DAN Hazardous Marine Life Injuries course would be a better option.   [Contact me!]

Demystifying Hyperbaric Treatment–this was pretty cool.   After having completed my Diver Medic training and been in a chamber tending patients, this was an interesting presentation.   Different types of chambers (multi-place and mono-place, aka many vs single patient), what they can & can’t do and how patients are treated were discussed.   Treatment tables (how long, what depth, etc) were also covered.   I think DAN has a webinar on this and I’ll see if we can run it at Dive Utah when I get back.


All-in-all, a great day and lots of info (and a stack of notes from the seminars).   Time for a break from DEMA today with a trip to the Kennedy Space Center.


Day 1–Seminar Overload? DAN and PADI Seminars

Wow!   Lots of cool stuff today…maybe even a bit too much. Here’s the quick preview:


This was the plan:

9-11am DAN Instructor/Trainer update

11am-Noon  PADI Public Safety Diver Program

Noon-1245   Walk the show floor

1245-1345 DAN Controversies of in-water recompression

1400-1500 DAN Diving Emergencies

1500-1630  PADI Risk management

1630-1730  DAN   Electronically recorded dive profiles

What happened:

The DAN Instructor/Trainer update was excellent!   The course revisions look great.   Good direction with course updates and course consolidation, making the materials more diver-friendly and updates based on feedback from DAN Examiners, Trainers and Instructors.   The short version:   The DAN Oxygen and Advanced Oxygen courses are merging.   The AED for Scuba course is going away, being replaced by their full Basic Life Support/First Aid (BLSFA) program that includes the AED skills in a logical sequence of primary care.   The DEMP (Diving Emergency Management Provider) program now includes the revised O2 course, BLSFA, Hazardous Marine Life Injuries and Neurological Exam for Scuba.    Hazardous Marine Life is also being revised to include freshwater aquatic life hazards.

PADI Public Safety Diver–WOW!!!   PADI is partnering with the pros at Underwater Criminal Investigations to expand this program from the first program (a basic intro) to expanding it into comprehensive training including evidence recovery, body recovery (yes, bodies), vehicle recovery and much more.   From an instructional point of view, this looks to be an awesome evolution.

DAN programs:   In-water recompression was an eye-opener.   I knew of some of the hazards based on my Diver Medic training and the obvious needs for better support during recompression therapy.   Good case studies and questions.   The Dive Emergency planning seminar was awesome.   I’m happy to say I’ve included some of their ideas when I teach my Rescue Diver courses, but I learned a lot.   For example, an Emergency Assistance Plan isn’t just “where is the nearest chamber?”   From a accident history problem, we’re more likely to run into a medical or trauma problem that is due to heart problems than a truly diving-related problem.   Think about it.  If someone has a heart attack while playing golf, it’s not a “golfing accident.”   If they have a heart attack while diving, though, it’s almost always a “diving accident.”   We need to plan for more than just diving problems.   As with all other emergency scenarios, training is crucial.   We need to practice what to do during an emergency.   For those of you that went through Rescue Diver a while ago, think about taking a refresher!

Ok…at that point, I figured I need to walk the show and see some of my friends, so I skipped PADI’s Risk Management seminar.  [I figured I just had a small dose of risk management in the DAN seminars.]   Walked the show for a while, talked to folks at DAN, PADI, Project AWARE, saw my friends from points south–TJ in the Caymans, Patty from Roatan, etc.

Back to the training…What can we learn from electronically recorded dive profiles?   A lot–and probably the most important, that we don’t know enough yet!   Combine this presentation and the others earlier in the day and the nutshell version is “Dive conservatively!”    Another way to say it, “don’t dive stupid.”   There are lots of profiles that seem to be very low risk.   There are also a lot of profiles that seem high-risk.   Diving really deep, staying long, missing decompression and safety stops, running out of air and making fast or “explosive” ascents, etc.  can lead to a really, really poor outcome.


Pre-DEMA: CD Update and PADI Live!

It’s going to be a crazy week.   It started yesterday with some pre-DEMA PADI programs: the 2011 Course Director Update and PADI Live!


The Course Director update covered a lot.   What’s new with Project AWARE, evaluation training for knowledge development presentations, instructor development updates, new programs like Sidemount Diver and Recreational Rebreathers, a glimpse into how business looks for the industry and more.

Project AWARE relaunched this year with two long term objectives on marine debris and shark conservation.   As divers, we have a great opportunity to see change as well as see a permanent record of what people have done to the planet.   We are in a unique position to not just observe, but to share that with others.   Check out the Dive Against Debris and Shark Conservation information at

One of the cool things in Instructor Development is that PADI’s Dive Theory online will credit towards the theory exams at PADI Instructor Exams starting next year.   That means rather than sitting for the Dive Theory exams (Physics, Physiology, Equipment, Recreational Dive Planner and Dive Skills & The Environment), a candidate can present an eLearning record and just take a Quick Review quiz at the IE.   I’m not sure exactly when this will happen, but it’s slated for early next year.

Sidemount and Rebreathers–wow!   This has come a long way.   I have to admit I still view Sidemount as more of a Tec diving thing, but it might open up a lot of doors for people with back problems.   There’s no requirement that a diver has to carry their gear long distances or in a position that might hurt them.   Sidemount, with tanks slung along your sides, might open diving to a whole group of people that weren’t able to handle a tank on their back.   I can see I’ll be taking Chris Langehaug’s Sidemount class when I get back to Utah.

Rebreathers have also come a long way.   I’m hoping to get a glimpse of some of the new Recreational Rebreathers at DEMA this year.   The rebreathers themselves are more complicated devices, but that makes them easier for the diver to use.   A simplified way to determine if there are problems, a short list of what to do if there is a problem and a fun way to dive–with out bubbles!


PADI Live!  (with red carpet and all) was a great program.   Drew Richardson gave us a good look at the Dive Industry and reminded us all that we’ve the best jobs in the world.   We get to explore that 70% of the planet covered with water and we get to share it with others.   For me, I’ve always wanted to be an astronaut.   Ok, NASA isn’t going to hire me, so the way I get to be weightless is in the water.   Drew told us about an astronaut that is on the International Space Station.   He’s a PADI Instructor and he thinks and dreams about diving while in space!    That makes me think I’ve the better job (I’d still try the astronaut gig if I had the chance).

It was awesome to see my friend Peter from Abyss Scuba be recognized for all he’s doing.   Peter was in my Course Director Training Course and he’s a great example of how to succeed in this industry.   Congrats, Peter!

Time to head to the Orange County Convention Center…DAN Instructor/Trainer Update this morning.