Monday 21 July 2008

Formulating an Emergency Action Plan

When formulating an Emergency Action Plan many factors should be considered. While it is impossible to anticipate all emergencies, prior planning and proper training are key to dealing with emergency situations. Personnel must act quickly and effectively to minimize injury and/or prevent death. The following guidelines provide a planning tool which, when used properly, will allow an Emergency Action Plan to be developed and in place prior to the start of diving activities.

Emergency Numbers and Information

* Number of EMS and nearest hospital phone and location
* Location and contact information for nearest recompression chamber
* Number of poison control
* DAN emergency number
* Emergency contact information for divers

Equipment Requirements at Location

* Oxygen kit
* First Aid kit
* Pen and paper
* Forms
* Lines for search/recovery
* Backboard, stretcher, etc.
* Communications equipment (VHF, cellular phone, pay phone, CB radio, etc.)
* Flares and signaling devices
* Additional site specific equipment

Personnel Considerations

* Team members backgrounds and personalities
* Who will be in charge of what?

Site considerations

* Marine life
* Entrapments or entanglements
* Physical Hazards
* Depth
* Currents

Action Plan

* Emergency Recognition / Activation of Emergency Action Plan
* How to recall divers and alert personnel
* Search for and recover injured / missing diver
* Spotting Team
* Search and Recovery Team
* Individual to get help
* In-water evaluation and response (airway & breathing)
* Transport to platform or beach
* Extrication from water
* Evaluation and ABCD's
* Activation of EMS (ambulance, Coast Guard. etc.)
* Appropriate first aid (CPR, Oxygen, Shock treatment, etc.)
* Gather information (diver, buddy, equipment, observer)
* Evacuation procedures
* Evacuation mode/route
* Call DAN if appropriate
* Provide info and accompany EMS (inform them compressed gas was used)
* Follow up and reporting procedures

Helicopter Evacuation Procedures

Each helicopter evacuation is different, each one presents its own problems, but knowing what to expect and the procedures to follow can save time, effort, and perhaps a life.

* If your boat is unable to provide the required frequency, work via another
* Maintain speed of 10 to 15 knots, do not slow down or stop
* Maintain course into wind about 20 degrees on port bow
* Put all antennas down if possible, without losing communications
* Secure all loose objects on/or around decks
* Always let the lifting device touch the boat before handling it
* Place lift jacket on patient
* Tie patient in basket, face up
* Provide as much information as you can about patient (casevac form)
* Ensure flight crew is instructed on medical procedures for diving accidents
* Ensure flight crew delivers victim to hyperbaric chamber
* If patient dies, inform flight crew so that they take no unnecessary risks

Obviously, a dive accident plan can vary substantially from site to site. Regardless of the site, the emergency accident plan and contingency plans should be formulated and made clear to the dive team. It often helps to visualize a worst case scenario. On-site accident drills are recommended to illustrate roles, required actions and potential problems.

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