Emergency Oxygen Providing

Breathing elevated concentrations of oxygen is beneficial in the treatment of many scuba diving ailments.

Oxygen breathing will increase the oxygenation of any hypoxic body tissues and also help to flush out any dissolved nitrogen and nitrogen present in bubbles.

To achieve maximum benefit, the concentration of inspired oxygen should be as near to 100 percent as possible. One hundred percent oxygen is used because it does not contain any nitrogen or other inert gases.

All dive operations should have suitable oxygen equipment and an appropriately trained and qualified Oxygen Provider at the dive site. Ideally, all divers should have access to oxygen should it be needed after the dive.

For maximum benefit, oxygen breathing should begin as soon as possible after a diving injury. If only a limited supply of oxygen is available, it should be given in heavy concentrations from the time that the injury is recognized until the supply of oxygen is exhausted.

Enough oxygen should be available for the anticipated transport time between the dive site and an appropriate medical facility. It is important not to stop oxygen breathing too soon because even if the initial symptoms have disappeared with oxygen first aid, they can re-appear later and can worsen substantially.

This is one reason why it is important to contact a DAN hotline to seek advice when providing oxygen to a diver with symptoms.

Many oxygen devices have been designed to give oxygen to conscious and unconscious victims, however, very little oxygen equipment has been designed specifically for diving injuries. To help maximize the benefits in diving injuries and more easily achieve 100% oxygen, a demand delivery system should be used where possible.

A demand system with a tight-sealing oronasal mask can deliver near-100% oxygen to both the conscious and unconscious diver who are breathing slowly and strongly enough to trigger the demand valve effectively.

A breathing diver who cannot use a demand valve can breathe high oxygen concentrations via a non-re-breather mask with a flow rate of around 15 liters per minute (ensuring that the reservoir doesn’t empty).

A non-breathing diver can be ventilated with relative ease and safety using a resuscitation mask attached to an oxygen outlet with a flow rate of 10 to 15 lpm.

DAN has been instrumental in the development of certain types of oxygen units which are designed to provide a simple, safe and effective means of providing oxygen to injured divers.

PADI Emergency Oxygen Provider & DAN’s ‘Oxygen First Aid for Scuba Diving Injuries’ course provides divers with the required knowledge and skills to safely administer oxygen to injured divers and is the most highly-regarded course in which to learn these skills.

Safety Rules when Using Oxygen Equipment

  • Position the injured diver appropriately
  • Ensure are is well ventilated and nothing is burning
  • Ensure your hands and equipment are free from grease and oils
  • Slowly turn the cylinder valve at least one full turn
  • Provide oxygen asap to injured diver and at the highest possible concentration
  • Record the periods of oxygen breathing and the injured diver’s response to it
  • Do not cease providing oxygen until advised to do so by a diving physician
  • Carefully monitor the diver and oxygen equipment function at all times

Continue providing oxygen until the supply is depleted. Interrupt temporarily if the diver vomits, regurgitates, has a seizure or has difficulty breathing from the equipment. Resume oxygen provision as soon as possible and never leave the injured diver unattended.

Using a Demand Valve

  • Ensure the diver is breathing effectively, attach the mask to the demand valve and check its function
  • Position the mask ensuring an airtight seal
  • Listen for demand valve sounds to ensure proper function and diver’s activation
  • Reassure a conscious diver and closely monitor the diver and equipment function

Using a Non-rebreather Mask

  • Ensure the diver is breathing effectively
  • Set the flow rate to 15 lpm and prime the reservoir bag
  • Position the mask and adjust to obtain the best seal possible
  • Reassure a conscious diver breathing normally through the mask

Using a Resuscitation Mask with a Non-breathing Diver

  • Commence CPR while oxygen equipment is being prepared
  • Attach tubing to mask and set flow rate to 15 lpm
  • Position the mask and obtain an airtight seal
  • Tilt the diver’s head back, lift the jaw and continue CPR as required
  • Closely monitor the diver and equipment function

By : Tamer M. Hussein

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