13-1 Mixed-Gas Operational Planning

Mixed-Gas Operational Planning

Purpose. This chapter discusses the planning associated with mixed-gas diving operations. Most of the provisions in Chapter 6, Operations Planning, also apply to mixed-gas operations and should be reviewed for planning. In planning any mixed-gas operation, the principles and techniques presented in this chapter shall be followed.

Scope. This chapter outlines a comprehensive planning process that may be used in whole or in part to effectively plan and execute diving operations in support of military operations.

Additional Sources of Information. This chapter is not the only source of information available to the diving team when planning mixed-gas diving operations. Operation and maintenance manuals for the diving equipment, intelligence reports, and oceanographic studies all contain valuable planning information. The nature of the operation will dictate the procedures to be employed and the planning and preparations required for each. While it is unlikely that even the best planned operation can ever anticipate all possible contingencies, attention to detail in planning will minimize complications that could threaten the success of a mission.

Complexity of Mixed-Gas Diving. Mixed-gas diving operations are complex, requiring constant support and close coordination among all personnel. Due to extended decompression obligations, mixed-gas diving can be hazardous if not properly planned and executed. Seemingly minor problems can quickly escalate into emergency situations, leaving limited time to research dive protocols or operational orders to resolve the situation. Each member of the diving team must be qualified on his watch station and be thoroughly competent in executing applicable operating and emergency procedures. Safety is important in any diving operation and must become an integral part of all operations planning.

Medical Considerations. The Diving Officer, Master Diver, and Diving Supervisor must plan the operation to safeguard the physical and mental well-being of each diver. All members of the team must thoroughly understand the medical aspects of mixed-gas, oxygen, and saturation diving. A valuable source of guidance in operations planning is the Diving Medical Officer (DMO), a physician trained specifically in diving medicine and physiology.

Mixed-gas diving entails additional risks and procedural requirements for the diver and the support team. At the surface, breathing a medium other than air causes physiological changes in the body. When a diver breathes an unusual medium under increased pressure, additional alterations in the functioning of the mind and body may occur. Each diver must be aware of the changes that can occur and how they may affect his performance and safety. Mixed-gas diving procedures that minimize the effects of these changes are described in this and the following chapters. Every mixed-gas diver must be thoroughly familiar with these procedures.

Typical medical problems in mixed-gas and oxygen diving include decompression sickness, oxygen toxicity, thermal stress, and carbon dioxide retention. Deep saturation diving presents additional concerns, including high pressure nervous syndrome (HPNS), dyspnea, compression arthralgia, skin infections, and performance decrements. These factors directly affect the safety of the diver and the outcome of the mission and must be addressed during the planning stages of an operation. Specific information concerning medical problems particular to various mixed-gas diving modes are contained in Volume 5.

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