By Dick Kauffman
June 06, 2005
Adam Day, of Diversified Diving, receives training. Inside the chamber
during the training was diver Alan Benitz of Ketchikan.
Photo by Dick Kauffman
The bends, a popular name for a syndrome seen in deep-sea divers, is a very serious, potentially lethal condition. Decompression sickness, the bends, arises from too rapid a release of nitrogen from solution in the affected diver's blood. If a diver surfaces too quickly, nitrogen that had dissolved in the blood under increasing water pressure is suddenly released, forming bubbles in the bloodstream and causing pain (the 'bends') and paralysis. Sixty percent of your nervous system is composed of fatty tissue. When the nitrogen stored there turns into bubbles, it wreaks havoc. Nitrogen is also stored in the joints - thus the name the bends - and directly under the skin producing a blotchy rash. Immediate treatment is a gradual decompression in a decompression chamber, while breathing pure oxygen.
Adam Day and Andrew Driver, a representative
of Nautilus Underwater Systems from New York...
Photograph by Dick Kauffman
Driver said if you don't get the affected diver back under pressure immediately he could die. With the ability to have the portable hyberbaric chamber unit on board and readily available, Driver said the diver won't be waiting long hours for a plane to fly in and transport him to the nearest decompression chamber. A lot of damage can be done in that wait time said Driver.
The bends, or decompression sickness, is just one danger of diving. Other dangers include nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity and simple drowning if a diver runs out of air before making it back to the surface. During Thursday's training session, Diversified Diving demonstrated to its staff that proper training, good equipment and careful execution are the keys to safe diving.
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