Marc Kaiser, hyperbaric technical director for the Diving Medical Center at Mercy Hospital in Miami, has been named the DAN?? / Rolex?? 2002 Diver of the Year. He is to receive the award at the Seaspace 2002 exhibit in Houston on June 8.
This prestigious annual award honors an individual with an excellent record of public service in scuba diving who is also a strong advocate of Divers Alert Network and scuba diving safety. The award includes a plaque and a specially engraved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date dive watch.
Dr. Peter Bennett, founder, president and CEO of DAN, lauded Kaiser’s achievements. "The chamber at Mercy Hospital in Miami is a living daily tribute to Marc’s love of diving and his resourcefulness," said Dr. Bennett. "That he was also named DAN Regional Coordinator for Florida and the Caribbean in the 1990s was a natural result of his tenacity, skills and diligence in helping recreational divers in distress. He has been a tremendous asset to DAN."
Kaiser has been involved in dive safety since he was a college sophomore, volunteering his afternoons, nights and weekends to work at a hyperbaric chamber in Florida. Eventually he earned a part-time student position, then went to work with NOAA and the Florida Underwater Council in Key Biscayne, Fla., in conducting dive accident management and oxygen delivery courses in the 1970s prior to the creation of DAN.
In 1982 Kaiser created his company Makai Marine Industries, Inc., to provide hyperbaric services to mostly Caribbean-based entities, many of which were for the benefit of DAN. He continued to work as a NOAA instructor and as a DAN supporter throughout the 1980s.
With the assistance of DAN, Kaiser created in 1989 a trailer-based hyperbaric chamber that became the Diving Medical Center at Mercy Hospital in Miami. The chamber provided 24-hour service and has recompressed up to more than 110 divers in a year. In 1992 the center left the trailer and moved into the hospital itself.
Kaiser also was a DAN Regional Coordinator for Florida and the Caribbean region in the 1990s through the present, where he personally provides 24-hour support to all chambers in the Caribbean Assistance Program. This support includes technical assistance and donations of thousands of dollars of equipment and supplies under the direction of DAN.
"For nearly 29 years I have had the good fortune of being able to fulfill my childhood dream of working in and around the water," Kaiser said. "It was this dream that led me to work at NOAA and then to my own business and pursue a career dedicated to diving safety and the treatment of injured divers."
Previous DAN/Rolex Divers of the Year are Walt "Butch" Hendrick (1989); Jim Corry (1990); Michael Lang (1991); Drew Richardson (1992); Karl Huggins (1993); Dr. Glen Egstrom (1994); Marjorie Bank (1995); Dick Long (1996); Dr. Lee Somers (1997); Richard Dunford (1998); Dr. Hillary Viders (1999); Greg Mackay (2000); and Dr. Bill Hamilton (2001).