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Decompression Diving Overview

As your desire to dive deeper and stay longer expands, you leave the realm of recreational diving and the no decompression limits that you were taught. Diving deeper and staying longer at depth moves you into decompression diving. Decompression diving requires detailed planning, preparation, equipment, and mind set and takes you into a very advanced form of diving. If you have the desire to explore wrecks, caves, or whatever that lays in deep water, getting the proper training to safely operate and return from these depths is a must. Before you can return to the surface, you must decompress.

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Treatment of Decompression Illness

If DCI does happen, proper treatment is very important. First aid for DCI is immediate administration of 100% oxygen either through a demand mask that cover’s the patient’s face and delivers oxygen when the patient breathes. If the patient cannot tolerate a demand mask, a nonbreatheable, free-flow mask can be used with a flow rate set to 15 liters per minute. Masks should seal to the patients face so that maximum O2 is delivered to the patient. Air leaks in the mask will dilute the O2 percentage inspired. Do not use less than 100% oxygen as a way to prolong oxygen supply. Divers Alert Network (DAN) offers a variety of oxygen kits for the diving community as well as training in their use.

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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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Prevention of Decompression Illness

Preventing DCI one hundred percent is not probable or realistic. DCI can occur even when you follow all of the guidelines and safety factors and your day to day body physiology can change, which can increase or decease your susceptibility of getting DCI.

There are a number of things you can do to limit the risks of getting 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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