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Decompression

Decompression Training Frequently Asked Questions

Where can you get decompression diving training?

A number of training organizations offer decompression diving training. Training organizations such as, IANTD, GUE, NAUI, PADI, and TDI all offer decompression diving training. If you are looking for decompression diving training, finding a dive shop in your area with technical instructors may be difficult. Typically, only dive shops that categorize themselves as “technical” shops offer this type of training. You may have to travel out of your area to find a dive shop or instructor.

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Symptoms of Decompression Illness

DCI is typically classified into two categories: Type I DCI and Type II DCI. Type I DCI is considered pain only and other mild symptoms, where Type II DCI is considered central nervous system involvement and very serious. Sometimes it’s very difficult to determine what type of DCI it is unless you’re professionally trained in diving medicine. However, it’s very important that you recognize DCI symptoms even if you’re not sure what category they fall under. Here is a breakdown of the symptoms you can expect for Type I and Type II DCI.

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Decompression Diving Training

Decompression is stopping at predetermined depths as you ascend to the surface for a predetermined amount of time. The time at each decompression stop depth is determined by how deep you go, what bottom gas you breathed, how long you stayed at depth, what decompression gasses you are using, the physical exertion of the dive, and your personal fitness level.

Decompression training involves learning about decompression procedures, decompression illness (DCI), decompression gasses, oxygen, decompression theory, decompression tables, and dive computers. When descending to deeper depths and staying for extended period of times, you enter the realm of decompression diving. This is no small element, as not properly following decompression procedures and requirements could end in causing you DCI or even death.

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Decompression Diving Procedures

To decompress and off gas excess inert gas correctly and efficiently is imperative so as to avoid decompression illness (DCI). By following the staged decompression procedures outlined here, your ability to off gas sufficiently increases and makes decompression diving safer. Remember, however, that no matter how stringent you follow decompression guidelines and safety factors, you can still be susceptible to getting DCI on any dive.

· Make sure you and your team hydrates well prior to the dive. Start hydration at least 12 hours prior to the dive and make sure to hydrate after the dive.

· Plan your dive appropriately with the right gases for your bottom mix and your decompression mixes. Use gases that limit inert gas buildup and allow for the best and most efficient off gassing during decompression.

· Locate, set up, and mark a point that provides the entire dive team a suitable place to decompress. This might include a down line when wreck diving or specific location in a cave or cavern when cave diving. You should be able to rest comfortably with some type of handhold so that your chest remains at a constant depth. You don’t want to be moving up and down. Sometimes knowing exactly where you’re going to decompress at each stop depth is not practical, but knowing the requirements you need to follow when at a stop depth can help you decide on a spot during the dive.

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Decompression Illness

Photo: Steve May

Decompression illness (DCI), also known as “the bends” or caisson disease, is a illness that occurs when bubbles form in your body’s tissues because of an excessive quantity of inert gas (nitrogen or helium) due to inadequate decompression following the exposure to increased pressure. During a dive, your body’s tissues absorb nitrogen or helium from your breathing gas in proportion to the surrounding pressure. As long as you remain at pressure (depth), the inert gas does not present any problems. If the pressure is reduced too quickly, from a rapid ascent for example, the inert gas can come out of solution and form bubbles in your body’s tissues and bloodstream. Once bubbles are formed they may or may not produce symptoms based on their eventual growth. When symptoms occur, they relate to the area in the body where the bubble is located.

DCI can occur as a result of violating no decompression limits and not properly decompressing during your ascent, ascending too rapidly on a no decompression dive, pushing dive tables to their limits, skipping or shortening decompression stops during a staged decompression dive, or pushing the limits on tables or dive computers when making repetitive dives. But, DCI can also occur even when you follow all of the recommended guidelines and safety factors.

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