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Experts from the Medina Aquarius Program worked with World Extreme Medicine to train a group of six physicians from around the world to become internationally-recognized Diver Medical Technicians (DMTs). Through the Hyperbaric Medicine and Saturation Diving course, students learned how to evaluate and treat diving medical emergencies while gaining practical experience in other aspects of diving in extreme environments.

World Extreme Medicine Founder, Mark Hannaford, describes this course as, “Perhaps the most comprehensive and unique dive medicine course in the world.”

The course blended classroom lectures, case study reviews and practical medical scenarios utilizing the Aquarius’ 72-inch, multi-place chamber to teach recompression chamber theory and operations. Participants took a tour of the Transportable Recompression Chamber System located aboard one of the Aquarius support vessels.

During the 10-day course, students were given scenarios in which they worked together to identify the symptoms of diving-related emergencies, come up with a possible diagnosis, select a course of treatment, and adjust that treatment accordingly depending on the patient’s response.

Following the classroom portion, students took the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology (NDHDMT) board certification exam.

This course culminated with multiple dives at Aquarius Reef Base and an overnight stay at the undersea lab. Once the divers entered the habitat, the hatchway between the entry lock and wet porch was secured and the internal pressure returned to surface pressure (one atmosphere). Since divers spend the duration of their visit at one atmosphere, they don’t incur a decompression debt and, are not required to undergo the 15-hour and 45-minute decompression process required after a typical Aquarius saturation mission.  

After their overnight stay, participants were presented with a final diving casualty scenario that required them to use their newly acquired skills and knowledge to stabilize and treat the casualty in the hyperbaric chamber. 

“Ten days, one exam, many medical simulations, an Aquarius overnight stay and many friendships later…I am a certified Dive Medical Technician and honorary aquanaut,” says Shawna Pandya.

To learn more about this course, please contact Roger Garcia and visit aquarius.fiu.edu.