Copied from a DAN incident report:
This DAN Member diver is a healthy 41-year man who has a history of 150 dives. He went for a two-day trip to dive in a neighbouring country. On the first day, he did a single dive and noticed that his dive computer wasn’t working. He continued to dive but became separated from his buddy and dived deeper than he planned. He wasn’t sure of the depth because of his faulty computer (and faulty gauge) but thinks that it was around 40 m. He thinks that he probably ascended too quickly during the first half of the ascent but then slowed down and did a safety stop before surfacing. On reaching the surface he felt dizzy and nauseous and subsequently vomited. He described feeling very tired that evening but had a good night’s sleep.
In the morning, he still felt unwell although better than the previous day and decided to dive again. After surfacing from an uneventful dive to 25m, he again felt dizzy and nauseous. He did not call the DAN hotline for advice but instead caught a bus back home.
After continuing to feel very tired and “cloudy-headed” for the next six days he finally contacted one of the local hyperbaric units. The doctor diagnosed likely DCI, as although symptoms were vague there was no other obvious alternative, and recommended recompression treatment. The doctor then called the DAN Diving Emergency Service Hotline (DES) and discussed this with the on-call doctor who agreed that recompression was indicated. The DES doctor then called the case in to DAN AP.
When the diver’s details were checked it became clear that, although he was a DAN AP Member, he had not taken out an optional dive injury insurance plan at the time of joining. This meant that he had no coverage from DAN for the costs of the treatment he required.
A DAN AP staff member called both the diver and the local diving doctor to explain this. The diver was told that treatment would likely cost around US$3500. As the diver had no other insurance and was short of funds he decided not to have any treatment. Fortunately, his symptoms abated after a few more days.
Comments from DAN AP's John Lippmann
While DAN Membership includes coverage for emergency medical evacuation (in accordance with the conditions), it does not provide cover for treatment for a dive injury. This is where the optional DAN Dive Injury Insurance may be necessary. In some countries, recompression may be covered under a National Health system but this is not the case in many places and insurance is then a real benefit.
We have tried hard to make it clear when people sign-up exactly what membership includes and explain that this does not include treatment insurance. Despite this, some people end up in the position of this Member, either through not fully understanding the situation or deciding to take the risk of not taking the extra cover. The belief that “it will never happen to me” is fortunately true most of the time … but not always!
It’s obviously unwise to dive or continue diving without any ability to monitor depth and decompression status. We have no idea if the diver breached any decompression obligations. However, remember that the vast majority of divers who are treated for DCI had been diving within their computer’s limits.
Once this diver noticed symptoms after diving, the wise thing to do would have been to call the DAN DES hotline and get advice. It is likely that prompt oxygen first aid would have been advised, and, if done soon enough and for long enough, the diver’s symptoms may well have been relieved. In any case, he would have been linked with a local hyperbaric doctor for further evaluation.
There are always lessons for us to learn in life, and in diving – learn from others.