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Safety net: DAN – Divers Alert Network

Right from taking my first steps into the scuba diving world, in 2002, my instructor recommended me to take on a medical insurance. She told me that, besides being compulsory, it spares you from a great deal of costly expenses in the case of unpleasant events. For a few years I took on some annual insurance, from different insurance agencies. At that point I wasn’t familiar yet with Divers Alert Network (DAN); I’ve heard of this organization, but I wasn’t so well informed. Then, in 2007, when I moved up to the PADI professional level, I took my first DAN insurance. But when did I truly see the benefits of DAN insurance? It was in the past few years, in 2009-2010, on two occasions, both onboard the Clipper Odyssey passenger-expedition vessel, where I’m working since 2008 and until now.

The first incident took place in 2009, when a Divemaster (which was part of the staff of the expeditions agency which rents the vessel as a charter boat), after a recreational dive, suffered an episode of DCS (even though the profile of his diving computer looked OK) somewhere north of New Zealand-Australia. The boat changed then the itinerary to reach the closest island and, from there, the patient was transported by helicopter to a larger hospital on another island, and so on until he reached a recompression chamber. It all ended well!

The second incident took place in 2010, on an island in the French Polynesia. A member of the charter’s staff, Mike (ex-commercial diver and Divemaster) was stung by a jellyfish (the type wasn’t really determined, but… it was the bad kind). The result? Very serious cardiac and respiratory problems. The doctor onboard put him immediately on oxygen and painkillers and decided he should be evacuated straight away. Alerted via satellite phone, in less than two hours, a helicopter of the French Marine Forces safely lifted and transported the patient to a hospital in Papeete, the capital of French Polynesia. Within less than a week, Mike returned to the boat, with the same energy and well-known humor.

In both cases both patients had DAN insurances. If they wouldn’t have had this type of insurance probably the employer or themselves would have had a “serious” bill to pay. The safe evacuation and transportation of the patients to the nearest qualified medical facility was prioritized. The bureaucratic part, the papers… had enough time to be sorted out afterwards.

Divers Alert Network is probably the most renowned NGO offering qualified online medical assistance, organizing medical evacuation, offering assistance in hyperbaric treatments, legal and medical insurance, as well as First Aid educational courses aimed at scuba divers and non-divers.

With five international branches divided by regions (America, Europe, Japan, South Africa and Asia Pacific), Divers Alert Network has already established itself for benchmarking safety criteria in the recreational and technical diving, the recommendations made under the DAN name being since long applied by the certification agencies in this field.

All these recommendations, offered by qualified specialized doctors, rely on years of research, on gathering and analyzing results of various hyperbaric experiments of dive accidents, be it in scuba diving or freediving.

The European branch of DAN is located in Roseto, Italy, and covers the entire European region (and the dependent territories) plus the entire region of the Mediterranean Sea (land and sea), the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, Ethiopia and the Maldives. DAN Europe offers phone services in English, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Spanish. A network of national phone numbers is available, unfortunately Romania is not (yet) included on this list. For emergencies, the international access number is: 0039 (0) 64 211 8685. The Roseto branch can be contacted at 0039 (0) 85 893 0333, as well as on Skype: DAN_Europe_Foundation.

Courses
In the educational field, DAN Europe offers 10 different courses: Basic Life Support, Oxygen First Aid for Scuba Diving Injuries, Advanced Oxygen First Aid for Scuba Diving Injuries, Medical Oxygen Rebreather, Oxygen First Aid for Aquatic Injuries, First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries, Automated External Defibrillator for Scuba Diving, On-Site Neurological Assessment for Divers, Diving Emergency Management Provider/ Diving First Responder and Diving Emergency Specialist. The other international DAN offices can offer similar courses, depending on some of the regulations applicable to those areas.

The informational structure of the courses is conceived in such a way to be accessible to all attendees and is based on video materials and textbooks, supplementing it with a practical part (dummy, oxygen and First Aid equipment, etc) depending on the situation.

The Basic Life Support course is acknowledged by PADI (international diver certification organization which sponsors Emergency First Response) and, so, is valid for Rescue Diver certification and above.

All DAN courses are aimed at divers (recreational, technical, and commercial) as well as non-divers, the First Aid methods being in agreement with the international regulations in this field.

In the portfolio of DAN courses which I offer, at the moment you can find available the following courses: Basic Life Support and First Aid, Oxygen First Aid and First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries. Shortly, a few other courses will also be available.

As an additional information, my first courses (eight in number – DAN America) as a DAN service provider I’ve executed in February 2010 under the guidance of Dr. Pierre Guibor – DAN Reference Physician and NAUI Instructor, while I was onboard the Clipper Odyssey passenger-expedition vessel, in the Pacific waters, while in January 2011, in Key Largo, Florida – under the guidance of Tom Witmer – DAN Instructor Trainer and PADI Platinium Course Director, I’ve received my DAN Instructor license. Starting with February 2007 I am also Emergency First Response Instructor.

Insurances
DAN insurances are divided into three categories (Sport, Pro and Club) plus a Family plan. In its turn, every category has three other insurance alternatives: Bronze, Silver and Gold.

All these insurance options have different prices (between 59 Euros/year for a Sport Bronze and 265 Euros/year for a Pro Gold, for example), depending on the diver’s needs and the options the insurance covers.

For those who will purchase any DAN Europe diver insurance by clicking the following link (as I am a DAN Professional Partner) they will benefit from discounts when subsequently acquiring DAN educational courses. 

Furthermore, DAN Europe issues an electronic magazine (available for download, but only for members), organizes a digital photography competition and, also, has an online shop where different educational and First Aid materials can be bought and, last but not least, organizes or participates in international seminars where dive safety is promoted.

You can find detailed information about DAN Europe by accessing their webpage here.

And don’t forget… the price of DAN Europe insurance is insignificant compared to the benefits it offers.  You have life, vacation, gear and peace of mind for yourself and your dear ones!

Anyhow, no medical insurance exempts you from the obligation and the responsibility of being a safe diver!

Guest author: Constantin “Costa” Benedic
DAN Europe Instructor # 187305

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