Decompression and other diving related accidents and injuries can and do occur in any body of water. They also occur in less oblivious non-water based settings when individuals undergo planned or unintended significant changes in ambient pressure.
Resulting medical problems range greatly in severity and extent. Some are life or central nervous system threatening and require immediate transfer to highly specialized clinical facilities. Others will be less severe but still require specific knowledge on how to best stabilize and initiate injury-specific destination planning protocols.
It is uncommon for EMT’s and paramedics, the very personnel likely to respond to such events, to have previously undergone training in these unique pre-hospital medical emergencies. Standard training modules generally have little to say on this topic. Some medics have, therefore, sought out training through enrollment in NBDHMT approved diver medic training courses.
While this might appear a reasonable thing to do, in actual fact it is not a good option for the shore-based medical first responder. The diver medic course is directed at medically and geographically remote diving operations, those commonly associated with offshore oil and gas exploration. Here, medics are taught to practice within and around the decompression/recompression chamber complex. This setting is far removed from the practice environment of the shore based medic. Not surprisingly, then, much of the diver medic course content bears little relevance and value. It is this practice environment disconnect that prompted the Board to introduce a program specific to the shore based medical first responder.
Diving accidents and injuries are not common, certainly when compared to the number of motor vehicle accidents, acute cardiac events, falls and diabetic hypoglycemia cases shore-based medic will respond to. Accordingly, the steep learning curve associated with this course will be difficult to retain unless a process is in place to support knowledge retention.
To gain and maintain certification is, therefore, a key program feature. A two-yearly recertification standard is based upon accrual of no less than five continuing education credits. Credits are available at no cost by viewing lecture content maintained on the Board’s website.
Each course is taught by nationally recognized emergency medicine and diving medicine subject matter experts. Physician team members hold board certification in both emergency medicine and undersea and hyperbaric medicine and are closely associated with EMS teams, including EMS medical director positions.
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The National Board of Diving & Hyperbaric Medical Technology is a not-for-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under the United States of America Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) to ensure that the practice of diving medicine and hyperbaric oxygen therapy is supported by appropriately qualified technologists and nurses, through respective certification pathways. Funding is generated solely through certification fees and sales of Board merchandise. The National Board of Diving & Hyperbaric Medical Technology does not host or receive funding from advertisers or any other forms of business.
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Updated September 5, 2020