DAN’s Recompression Chamber Assistance Program

When a diver gets decompression sickness ("the bends"), his or her well-being may depend significantly on being able to reach a hyperbaric chamber to get treated quickly and appropriately. While there are thousands of hyperbaric chambers worldwide, not all are staffed and maintained around the clock, and even fewer have staff who are appropriately trained to treat diving injuries.

To support chambers in need, DAN® established the Recompression Chamber Assistance Program (RCAP) in 1993 and manages its funding under DAN's status as a 501©(3) nonprofit organization. This program directly assists chamber operators and staff who want to treat divers but cannot fully support themselves because of insufficient funding, staffing or other location-specific problems.

The world's most popular diving destinations have hundreds of such chamber facilities that are willing to treat divers but are in need of support. Through RCAP, DAN dispatches experts in hyperbaric chamber maintenance and operation, provides operational assessments and gives financial support — thus ensuring that these chambers are not only operational but also thriving and ready to respond to diving emergencies on short notice. By creating and maintaining a network of available hyperbaric chambers, DAN ensures its members — and all divers — have access to the emergency medical services they need.

By 2017, RCAP had provided for more than 150 on-site chamber assessments by DAN physicians and technical support staff. These assessments can significantly enhance operational safety in participating chambers.

This work is essential for the safety of the diving community, but it is both logistically and financially challenging: A single operational assessment costs an average of $3,800, and DAN relies on donations for these funds. For more information on RCAP or to donate, visit DAN.org/Give.

© Alert Diver — Q1 Winter 2018