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DAN Releases 2002 Edition of Annual DCI/Fatalities Report

“The 2002 edition of the annual DAN Report on Decompression Illness, Diving Fatalities and Project Dive Exploration is now available. Starting this year, DAN Members can download it free from the DAN website, while non-members can purchase printed copies from DAN.

The report summarizes the recreational diving activities of divers in the year 2000, including reports on 728 divers who experienced decompression illness (DCI), 91 divers who died, and 1,048 divers who made 7,694 dives for Project Dive Exploration (PDE). PDE, an observational study overseen by DAN Research, uses dive computers to collect depth-time dive profiles from volunteer divers during their normal diving activities.

PDE provides a control population of predominantly safe dives for comparison with the diving injuries and fatalities data. No volunteers reported treatment for DCI in 2000, but one PDE diver died while participating in the study.

The reported dive injuries and fatalities cover U.S. and Canadian citizens, and in the case of fatalities, U.S. citizens diving abroad. Information on injuries came from participating chambers. For divers who did not have complete resolution of signs and symptoms after completing all recompression therapy, DAN made follow-up call at six, nine and 12 months, or until the injured divers reported full resolution.

For fatalities, DAN used public sources of information such as newspaper articles, local contacts or family members. Medical examiners and other state authorities are not required to report dive fatalities to DAN.

Highlights of the Fatalities Section:

1) The dive fatalities in 2000 involved 13 women and 78 men. The largest proportion of diving fatalities was in the 50- to 59-year-old age group, at 30.8 percent. The average age of divers involved in fatal incidents was 44 for males and 48 for females.

2) The 91 fatalities reported were up from 78 given in 1999. As in that year, drowning was the most often cited cause of death, but particular events were identified in most cases as the cause of drowning, such as arterial gas embolism (AGE) and cardiac events.

3) The largest proportion of fatalities had made the fewest dives in the preceding 12 months. Although this was based on only 15 percent of the reported fatalities, it was similar to proportions in previous years.

Highlights of the Injuries Section:

1) Of the divers reporting suspected DCI, 70 percent were male. The average age of the injured divers was nearly 36. Open-water certification was most common at 38 percent, followed by advanced certification at 34.5 percent. The median time since initial certification until suspected DCI was five years, with the longest reported interval since certification being 41 years and the shortest being zero.

2) Most injuries occurred on the first day of diving, at an average depth of 90 feet / 27 meters. For 15 percent, however, the maximum depth was 130 fsw / 39 msw or more; the deepest went to 322 fsw / 97 msw. Nearly a quarter of the injured divers reported making a rapid ascent; most were within the no-decompression limits.

3) Oxygen first aid was used for only 145 of the reporting divers, or 20 percent of the injuries. When oxygen was provided, 71 percent reported either an improvement in their symptoms or complete relief.

4) More than 50 percent of the divers received one recompression at a chamber. After the first treatment, about half of the divers reported complete relief, and 43 percent reported some improvement.

The 2002 Report also contains summaries of the 91 dive fatalities in 2000; 10 selected case reports of dive injury; comparisons of air and mixed-gas diving for fatalities, injuries and PDE divers in 2000; and breakdowns on dive injuries and fatalities in 2000 by such elements as states and regions, dive environments, and time of year and day. In all cases, the data were treated as confidential medical information, revealing no details that could identify the divers.

To receive a copy of the 2002 edition of the Report on Decompression Illness, Diving Fatalities and Project Dive Exploration, call 1-800-446-2671 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or +1-919-684-2948, and order product code 401-6100. Cost is $22 for DAN members and $25 for non-members. Printed copies will be available by mid-March.”

Stephan Whelan
Stephan Whelan
Stephan is the Founder of His passion for the underwater world started at 8 years old with a try-dive in a hotel pool on holiday that soon formulated into a lifelong love affair with the oceans. In 1996 he set up and has grown the site to be the most popular diving website and community in the world.