Thursday, April 03, 2008

Oxygen kits

My Local Dive Store (LDS) has a number of the Divers Alert Network (DAN) oxygen kits that are available to the instructors for use during classes. We make a point of taking the kits with us every time we use the pool or the lake for teaching and sometimes even for fun dives. The kits comes in large watertight green cases and are easy to transport. Personally I appreciate the LDS having so many kits available to us to use. I think it speaks highly of the store owner that he has invested in having the kits available to us.

I wrote recently about attending a Emergency First Responder (EFR) instructor update class and a DAN diving emergency management provider class. The DAN class focused on treating divers whereas the EFR class was a general first responder and first aid class. A part of the DAN class was training in using the oxygen kits. I have taken the training a number of times before, but this class covered some new territory. We learned to use the bag valve inflators that can be used instead of doing mouth to mouth resuscitation.

One of the instructors, who seems to be fairly flush with cash, indicated that he personally owns a number of oxygen kits. I guess I have not really thought about owning my own kit since the LDS kits are always available to me when I teach classes. However the instructor made the point that he carries one in his car and has a few others for family emergencies. My question to instructors is "do you own your own oxygen kit and what is your opinion on having your own kit?"

I think that it is a really good idea to have your own oxygen kit, and I will be investing in one in future. Of course there are some issues to consider with owning your kit. The first is that pure oxygen is regarded as a prescription medicine in some states and should be treated as such. The second is that the tanks need the same inspection as regular SCUBA tanks (annual visuals and hydrostatic testing every five years).

One of our instructors is also an EMT (emergency medical technician) at a local fire department. He has said on many occasions that we do not use oxygen enough. He feels (and I think he is correct), that we should use oxygen as a first recourse instead of a last recourse. Because of my training, I guess I always considered oxygen to be used only in the case of heart attacks, near drowning, and the like. He suggested that we should be more liberal with the use of the oxygen and that it is probably a good idea to use it even then the person is not feeling too well and you not sure of the exact symptoms. For example the student might be very fatigued after the 200 yard swim and has some risk factors (smokes, over weight etc), then the prudent thing might be provide oxygen.

Being well prepared (trained and equipped) for the emergency that you hope will never occur is something we need to strive for as instructors.

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