The use of external defibrillators and knowledge of their role in applying first aid in cases of sudden cardiac arrest in scuba divers is becoming more and more important.



Automated external defibrillators for Scuba Diving

The mean age of divers who die each year in dive fatalities tracked by DAN is gradually increasing. It is now approximately 42 years of age. Divers are getting older, and older people are getting involved in diving.

This course represents entry-level training designed to educate the general diving (and qualified non-diving) public to better recognize the warning signs of Sudden Cardiac Arrest and administer first aid using Basic Life Support techniques and automated external defibrillators while activating the local emergency medical services, (EMS) and / or arranging for evacuation to the nearest appropriate medical facility.

Of the 78 dive fatalities in the DAN 2001 Report on Decompression Illness, Diving Fatalities and Project Dive Exploration, based on 1999 fatalities, 7.7 percent of them were caused directly by heart disease. At the same time, heart disease was the direct cause of death for 26 percent of the fatalities involving divers over the age of 35.

On top of that, 25 percent of divers involved in diving fatalities were also reported to be taking heart medications.

Heart disease is a common problem. To ignore that it affects divers as much as it affects the general population does divers a disservice. When you consider that diving is often done from remote locations - on beaches or off of dive boats - that are far removed from emergency medical help, it is important to prepare for every emergency.

Course Objective

Recommended Minimum Hours of Training

Knowledge Development (Lecture) = 1 Hour
Skills Development (Practice) = 2-3 Hours

It is recommended that this course be taught as a four-hour module. The time the course actually takes to teach varies depending upon many factors including the number of students and their ability to process the educational components of the program. Instructors desiring to include subjects or training beyond the course requirements may do so only before or following the course. Any additional training must not be required for completion of course requirements.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize the warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Provide Basic Life Support while setting up the automated defibrillators.
  • Provide basic life support with an AED.
  • Care for and maintain an AED.

The nature and scope of this course is limited to training divers and interested non-divers such as boat captains, water enthusiasts and non-diving family members to provide emergency cardiac care with an Automated External Defibrillator. This course does not provide training for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or scuba diving rescue. The training exercises of this course presuppose that the ill or injured diver has already been brought to shore or is aboard the boat.

Participants will complete the written course assessment. Each student must pass the examination with a score of at least 80 percent, but the instructor should review the written assessment with all participants to ensure 100 percent understanding of the material.

Skill Performance Objectives

To successfully complete the course, participants must demonstrate skill and confidence in:

  • Providing Basic Life Support.
  • Securing and setting up the Automated External Defibrillator.
  • Providing care with an Automated External Defibrillator.


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