First Aid Refresher
Emergency Oxygen

Every diver should know how to administer emergency oxygen - do you?



Emergency oxygen is the first line treatment for both decompression sickness (DCS) and arterial gas embolism (AGE). It's so important that dive operators and professionals consider a working oxygen unit standard safety gear. Every diver should know how to administer emergency oxygen — do you? Assuming you've assessed the scene and completed the initial assessment of Basic Life Support, follow these simple steps:



Steps for Oxygen Delivery
  • Turn the oxygen on slowly with one full turn.
  • Check the pressure gauge on the tank to make sure the cylinder is full.
  • Inform the injured diver that oxygen may help.
  • • State: "This is oxygen, and it may make you feel better. May I help you?"
    • If the injured diver is unresponsive, permission to help is assumed.
  • Continuously monitor the injured diver.
  • If conscious, place the diver in a position of comfort.
  • • Provide noncaffeinated, noncarbonated and nonalcoholic fluids.
    • Keep the injured diver out of the sun.
  • If unconscious, put in recovery position or on back to provide care.


Demand Inhalator Valve
  • Constant-flow setting should be in "Off" position.
  • Take a breath from demand valve and exhale away from the mask.
  • Place the mask over the injured diver's mouth and nose.
  • Instruct the injured diver to breathe normally from the mask.
  • Instruct the injured diver to hold the mask to help maintain a tight seal.
  • Monitor the injured diver and the oxygen pressure gauge.

Non-Rebreather Mask
  • Stretch oxygen tubing to avoid kinks.
  • Attach oxygen tubing to barbed constant-flow outlet.
  • Set constant-flow control to 15 liters per minute (lpm).
  • Prime mask reservoir bag.
  • Place the mask over the injured diver's mouth and nose.
  • Adjust the mask to ensure the seal and prevent oxygen leakage.
  • Instruct the injured diver to breathe normally.
  • If reservoir bag deflates, increase flow rate to 25 lpm.

Oronasal Resuscitation Mask (non-breathing diver)
  • Prepare the oronasal resuscitation mask.
  • Remove oxygen tubing from the non-rebreather mask.
  • Attach oxygen tubing to the barbed constant-flow outlet on the multifunction
  • regulator and the oxygen inlet on the oronasal resuscitation mask.
  • Set constant-flow control to 15 liters per minute (lpm).
  • Use mask to deliver supplemental oxygen during CPR.

Remember, a refresher does not take the place of actual training. If you are not trained in administering oxygen, consider taking the DAN Oxygen First Aid for Scuba Diving Injuries course.

© Alert Diver — Winter 2010