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Freediving after recent DCS - yes or no?

LL78

New Member
Oct 8, 2017
3
0
1
41
Australia
hi all.. my first post here so I hope I'm in the right spot!

I just want to get some clarification around decompression sickness and freediving.. not can it cause it, but rather, IF someone has had a recent Type 1 DCS (ie: 1 week ago) can they then go freediving/do a freediving course?

The scenario is as follows: I work at a resort, and we have a guest who unfortunately has had a Type 1 DCS 1 week ago, at another location prior to arriving here. The DCS came after 2 clean dives (20m max, 17m max, dive times < 60mins each) and the cause is unknown. The victim, mid 30s female, felt very unwell after the dives, but did not tell anyone as did not realise this could have been a DCS symptom. She completed 2 more dives the next day, similar profile. And later that day felt ill again, painful hips/joints and also a painful skin rash. No immediate o2/medical treatment was given. They were told by "it could be a DCS or it could be allergy to lead/nikel", consulted a local Dr, telephone call with dr back in Europe who stated similar.
At this point in time, our closest HB chamber is x2 flights and at least 8-10 hours away, as unfortunately the Dr at the local chamber passed away a couple of weeks ago and not yet been replaced, next closest chamber has been closed for 6 months. So we have agreed they will not scuba dive whilst here (we are very remote, and don't want to take the risk!).

However, the guest is asking if they can complete their Level 1 Freediving course. Our instructor is stating no based on the following:
- very recent DCS, with cause of DCS uknown (clean dive profile, healthy diver) and therefore do not want to take risk without proper medical checkup first
- remote location/no chamber
- and of course... with a recent DCS this person doesn't actually pass the medical statement questionnaire (and there is no Dr nearby to check them or give them clearance)

I'm curious on peoples thoughts/known facts here:
- should a person/can a person freedive after recent Type 1 DCS, that occurred off a clean profile?
- if yes or no... what's the reasoning/physiology behind it?

Any input would be much appreciated!
 

Nathan Vinski

Well-Known Member
Apr 19, 2015
247
146
58
24
Canada
The best, easiest, and safest answer to give would be NO

There are a few sources stating that the NAVY protocol is to wait 30 days after a SEVERE DCS to resume Scuba diving but that time could be shorter if the DCS was minor and checked out by a doctor. For example:

http://www.scubadiving.com/how-long-should-you-wait-to-scuba-diving-after-getting-dcs-aka-bends

That being said a level 1 freediving course doesn't pass 20m, most of the dives would be around 10m, and when taking into consideration time spent teaching and other students diving the diver would have a 3-5x dive time surface interval. Combining all of those factors it is highly unlikely to be put at risk for a DCS during a level 1 course.

However as a freediving instructor I would officially say that she couldn't dive until being cleared by a doctor because theres no reason to put yourself at risk of liability or the student at risk because we, quite frankly, have very very little information about N2 and DCS when it comes to freediving.
 
OP
OP
L

LL78

New Member
Oct 8, 2017
3
0
1
41
Australia
The best, easiest, and safest answer to give would be NO

There are a few sources stating that the NAVY protocol is to wait 30 days after a SEVERE DCS to resume Scuba diving but that time could be shorter if the DCS was minor and checked out by a doctor. For example:

http://www.scubadiving.com/how-long-should-you-wait-to-scuba-diving-after-getting-dcs-aka-bends

That being said a level 1 freediving course doesn't pass 20m, most of the dives would be around 10m, and when taking into consideration time spent teaching and other students diving the diver would have a 3-5x dive time surface interval. Combining all of those factors it is highly unlikely to be put at risk for a DCS during a level 1 course.

However as a freediving instructor I would officially say that she couldn't dive until being cleared by a doctor because theres no reason to put yourself at risk of liability or the student at risk because we, quite frankly, have very very little information about N2 and DCS when it comes to freediving.

Hi Nathan, thanks for your reply, much appreciated. Yep agree - the risk of a DCS from freediving is low... but the major concern being what caused the DCS in first place off a clean profile in healthy scuba diver, and that the "mystery cause" could be something very risky indeed.. So yes, with no dr for clearance.. sadly no freediving. Thanks again!
 
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