"Train Him"

by

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D.

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In the late 70's, I was a volunteer training assistant in a dive shop. One day, the instructional staff was discussing a new student's application. It stated that he had experienced a spontaneous pneumothorax four months prior to training. The staff was split in its opinion as to whether the diver should be trained or not.

The dive shop owner decided to end the discussion by calling the major US training agency that would issue the diving certification card. So, in our presence, he called the training agency and explained that there was a perspective student who had indicated a potential lung problem, a spontaneous pneumothorax, on his application.

The training agency asked only one question, "Has the diver paid for training?"

The dive shop owner said, "yes,"

The training agency responded with , "then train him."

Several of us were speechless!

The medical people I know and the diving medical texts I have suggest that a history of a  spontaneous pneumothorax is an absolute contra-indication to diving.

Later, we found out that this student had been refused training at another dive shop because of his medical condition. Since he wanted to go diving with his already-certified girl friend on an upcoming winter trip to the Caribbean, his strategy was to go to a number of dive shops until he found someone who would exchange his money for a scuba c-card. 

The point is:  

There is no substitute for a medical exam/consult with a physician knowledgeable in diving medicine.

Many times during your future life as a diver, there will be medical issues of "can I dive with condition X?" While there is nothing wrong with seeking opinions of training agencies, dive shops, instructors or fellow divers (either in person or on the internet), remember it is your life under the waves and, as such,  I strongly encourage you to seek medical advice on medical issues and consider that the best source of medical advice is the medical community.

If you are uncertain as to reliable sources of information, check with the Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society  for a referral to a hyperbaric physician, or have your personal physician contact them for information. On the U of MI campus, the University Health Service can provide you with dive knowledgeable medical advice.

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About The Author: 

Larry "Harris" Taylor, Ph.D. is a biochemist and Diving Safety Coordinator at the University of Michigan. He has authored more than 100 scuba related articles. His personal dive library (See Alert Diver, Mar/Apr, 1997, p. 54) is considered one of the best recreational sources of information In North America.

  Copyright 2001-2005 by Larry "Harris" Taylor

All rights reserved.

Use of these articles for personal or organizational profit is specifically denied.

These articles may be used for not-for-profit diving education