An Emergency Assistance Plan (EAP) is a prerequisite for participation in DAN’s Diving Safety Partners program. The following information will help you understand the importance of this plan and provide guidance on how to create an effective EAP for your dive operation.
Recreational dive operators must be prepared to manage the numerous potential hazards, both inherent (e.g. decompression illness) and incidental (e.g. sprains and cuts) to scuba diving.
An effective EAP helps:
- Dive supervisors manage an emergency scene;
- To delegate duties to staff, bystanders and guests;
- To make proper first aid decisions; and
- To summon appropriate assistance under often stressful circumstances.
As part of your DAN DSP application materials, the accompanying EAP Worksheet will help you prepare an effective plan that conforms to an effective format which has been used successfully by recreational and scientific dive leaders.
Please note: you are required to submit your operation and or vessel EAP to DAN for review and approval as part of your Diving Safety Partners Application. A separate EAP must be submitted for each location and individual vessel.
As part of your continued eligibility for participation in DAN’s Diving Safety Partners program, your staff must:
- Be familiar with the EAP;
- Each must have signed the EAP and
- The EAP should be prominently posted for all employees and guests to access in an emergency.
- The EAP Worksheet was designed to allow the DSP to include information specific and unique to their location and dive sites.
The Diving Safety Partners EAP Worksheet prompts you to include:
1) Contact Information:
Initial Contact Information. You should have information for initial notification of the person responsible for managing an emergency. This information should be immediately available. This person should be a person or facility (such as an office reception or registration desk) that is available 24 hours a day and who can provide assistance at the scene and direct initial assistance efforts.
Emergency Medical Assistance Contacts. This information includes any local emergency medical assistance (ambulance / rescue squad) or group who can respond to the accident location and provide either advanced life support or transport to a medical facility. Also included is contact information for local medical facilities or medical personnel capable of managing the medical aspects of injuries or emergency. Directions to the local medical facility (along with maps) may also be included if the transport must be done by individuals unfamiliar with the local area.
Diving Medical Information Resources. Other information should be listed which would facilitate contact with local experts in diving medicine (i.e., DAN USA,). The DAN Hotline number is listed to provide direct assistance in case of emergency medical evacuation for DAN members. Non-DAN members can call this number for assistance, but costs for any services incurred would be the responsibility of the caller or injured person.
Recompression Chamber Information. In general, DAN does not provide chamber location information for emergency planning. Call DAN in an emergency and DAN will act as the liaison in the diving emergency. The best option is to use the existing local emergency services for an injured diver. With any suspected case of decompression illness or dive-related injury, the emphasis is to get divers into hospital care first. DAN can help determine the nearest appropriate facility for treatment of the injury if the injury is found to be decompression-related. Chamber contact information can have a short “shelf-life”. Divers will record the contact information (location and phone number) for a hyperbaric facility and this information will remain part of their Emergency Plan indefinitely, despite the fact that the facility listed my have closed entirely or stopped treating divers.
Many chambers aren’t open on a 24-hour basis and need advance notice, from a doctor or DAN, so they can be adequately staffed and ready. DAN has learned from experience that actual chamber locations, availability and the contact information change frequently. On occasion, some divers have been driven past excellent healthcare facilities just to get to a recompression chamber when hyperbaric care was not really necessary or the chamber did not treat divers.
Injured divers should only be taken to a local chamber when it has been verified that:
- The diver is actually in need of recompression (i.e., suffering from decompression illness);
- The chamber is properly staffed, fully operational; and ready to accept the injured diver.
2) Injury and Lost Diver prevention plan
This information is general in nature and is included to provide reminders, not instructions, on how to manage the most common emergencies. Emergency First Aid Procedures are also included in this plan.
Injury Information Form. When diving injury occurs, you need to have the most complete information possible available for the attending physicians and emergency medical personnel. This includes the diver’s name, address, a description of the injury, significant medical history and dive profiles. As an example DAN has provided the Dive Accident Information Slate and DAN On-Site Neurological Assessment for Divers slate so that you can copy and use as needed when working with dive injuries.
3) Staff preparedness
An emergency plan can only work if all staff members are trained how to respond to an emergency, are familiar with the plan and use the existing procedures. Keeping track of expiry dates of certificates of staff members and having them sign the emergency plan should be a part of the procedures.
4) Emergency Equipment.
Availability and good maintenance of emergency equipment is crucial in emergencies. Make sure you have and in good working conditions) all needed emergency materials available and that everybody knows where to find them.
5) Dive Operations.
Orientations, briefings and post dive activity is an important pat of any emergency plan. Make sure your clients know what to expert and what to do in certain situations. This includes the use of entry/exit procedures, safety stop procedures, lost diver procedures.
Remember, an emergency assistance plan is only of value if guests and employees know where to find the information and are well-versed in its use. The EAP must be included in the initial guest (or client) orientation and must be posted prominently so that if an emergency were to occur, the EAP would be accessed easily.