Comparative incidences of decompression illness in repetitive, staged, mixed-gas decompression diving: is 'dive fitness' an influencing factor?

Martin Sayer, J Akroyd, G D Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Wreck diving at Bikini Atoll consists of a relatively standard series of decompression dives with maximum depths in the region of 45-55 metres' sea water (msw). In a typical week of diving at Bikini, divers can perform up to 12 decompression dives to these depths over seven days; on five of those days, divers can perform two decompression dives per day. All the dives employ multi-level, staged decompression schedules using air and surface-supplied nitrox containing 80% oxygen. Bikini is serviced by a single diving operator and so a relatively precise record exists both of the actual number of dives undertaken and of the decompression illness incidents both for customer divers and the dive guides. The dive guides follow exactly the dive profiles and decompression schedules of the customers. Each dive guide will perform nearly 400 decompression dives a year, with maximum depths mostly around 50 msw, compared with an average of 10 (maximum of 12) undertaken typically by each customer diver in a week. The incidence of decompression illness for the customer population (presumed in the absence of medical records) is over ten times higher than that for the dive guides. The physiological reasons for such a marked difference are discussed in terms of customer demographics and dive-guide acclimatization to repetitive decompression stress. The rates of decompression illness for a range of diving populations are reviewed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-67
Number of pages6
JournalDIV HYPER MED
Volume38
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Keywords

  • Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
  • SICKNESS

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