With minor exceptions, all life on earth requires that essential ingredient of oxygen.

The value of oxygen is so well regarded for us humans that it becomes a very valuable first aid treatment routinely used by hospitals and the emergency services. In many respects, oxygen is consequently considered a drug and its medical use is controlled.

In particular, many diving injuries clearly benefit from the use of oxygen as a first aid treatment and as such, although its use is controlled as noted above, divers do have a dispensation to use it with appropriate training.

BSAC has offered training in Oxygen Administration since the mid-1980s and in recognition of the importance of the skill, it was made a mandatory requirement for Advanced Divers in 1995 and then for Dive Leaders in 2002.

Since Dive leader is a pre-requisite for OWI, it is essential for all instructors as well.

Adverse reactions

Oxygen Admin training makes clear the risks associated with administering high levels of oxygen to people with certain medical conditions. As a consequence the dispensation divers have in using O2 as a first aid measure is that it is for the treatment of divers for diving-related injuries only (see the course notes for further explanation).

Essential skills

Due to the nature of the conditions oxygen might be used to treat, then the incorporation of CPR skills are essential to the process. Oxygen-enriched CPR should be seen as an addition to CPR and so the core resuscitation skills must be the foundation for any training. As a result of the course normally sets a pre-requisite of BSAC Sports Diver as they already have a proven level of BLS and CPR skills. The benefits of O2 first aid, however, are so great that all divers could benefit from this training. So an Ocean Diver (or equivalent) should be encouraged to complete the course and they just need to have been taught CPR skills as the essential foundation so as not to delay the O2 Admin component.

Fortunately, we rarely have a need to use any CPR training for real. The downside of that is that because we do not routinely use them then the skills can deteriorate over time. Similarly, any familiarity with oxygen administration equipment and use can also deteriorate. Consequently, instituting some form of refresher training can only be a good thing. For Instructors planning to offer Oxygen Administration training for branch members, it will not only serve to refresh their own skills but expand the skills, knowledge and experience of other club members substantially.

Equipment First Aid

Because we rarely need the O2 kit then it is not unusual for it to remain untouched for long periods. Running a course would ensure that not only is the equipment checked for effectiveness but also highlight any faults and need for servicing or refilling.

Think SAFE – Dive SAFE

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