Divers Alert Network Founder Peter Bennett has died, DAN announced this week.
Bennett founded DAN in 1980 and led the organization for 23 years.
Prior to DAN, Bennett was a charter member of the Undersea Medical Society at its founding in 1967. He was later its president from 1975-1976, the editor of its journal from 1976-1979 and its executive director beginning in 2007.
In 1972, Bennett, who was born, raised and educated in the U.K., moved to the United States where he was first named deputy director and later director of the F.G. Hall Laboratory hyperbaric chamber facility at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. In 1980, Bennett submitted a proposal to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for a grant to fund an emergency hotline for injured divers. Thus Bennett and his colleagues at Duke undertook responsibility for the hotline that would eventually grow and become Divers Alert Network.
During his 23-year tenure at the helm of the organization, Bennett oversaw the introduction of DAN’s membership program, dive accident insurance program, research department, continuing medical education program, training department, and more.
Current DAN President and CEO Bill Ziefle said:
“In founding DAN, Dr. Bennett accomplished something truly remarkable. It is because of his vision and action that divers all over the world now have the support of an organization that stands ready to assist in the event of an emergency. Dr. Bennet’s inquisitive mind and drive to achieve were gifts to divers everywhere.”
DAN Medical Director Jim Chimiak added:
“Peter Bennett dedicated his life to the advancement of diving. Few equal his combined accomplishments as a researcher, organizer, and leader in diving medicine. He will remain a profound influence on everyone working in this increasingly important area of human endeavor. He displayed an infectious, pioneering spirit that rallied expert, worldwide collaborations that routinely accomplished the impossible. He was a great mentor and friend who will be truly missed.”