Once a saturation dive begins, any illness that develops is likely to affect the entire team, reducing their efficiency and perhaps requiring the dive to be aborted. To minimize this possibility, the Saturation Diving Medical Officer should conduct a brief review of the diver’s physical condition within 24 hours of compression. If an infectious process or illness is suspected, it shall be carefully evaluated by the Saturation Diving Medical Officer for possible replacement of the diver with a previously designated alternate diver. Strict attention to personal hygiene, chamber cleanliness, and food-handling procedures should be maintained once the dive begins to minimize the development and spread of infection.

Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene and cleanliness is the most important factor in preventing infections, especially skin and ear infections. All divers should wash at least daily, and as soon as possible after wet excursions. Fresh linens and clothing should be locked into the complex every day. To prevent foot injury, clean, dry footwear should be worn at all times except while showering, sleeping, or in diving dress. Feet must be thoroughly dry, especially between the toes, to minimize local infections. A personal toiletry bag shall be maintained by each chamber occupant. These bags shall be inspected by the Diving Supervisor or Master Diver prior to commencing the dive to prevent potential contaminants or fire hazards from being carried into the chamber.

Prevention of External Ear Infections

Severe ear infections can develop unless preventative measures are taken. An effective preventative regime includes irrigating each ear with 2 percent acetic acid in aluminum acetate solution (i.e., DOMEBORO) for 5 minutes at least twice daily. Irrigation shall be observed by the Diving Supervisor, timed by the clock, and logged.

After a week or so, even with the ear prophylaxis regimen, the ear canals may become occluded with debris. Once this happens, an ear infection may develop rapidly. In order to prevent this occurrence, all divers should be trained to detect and treat blockage. Before beginning a dive, all divers should be trained by qualified medical personnel to use an otoscope to view the ear drum. Also, they should be trained to use an ear syringe. At least weekly during a dive, divers should examine each other’s ear canals. If the ear drum cannot be viewed because of a blockage, then the canal should be gently irrigated with the ear syringe until the canal is unplugged.

Chamber Cleanliness

Strict attention shall be paid to chamber cleanliness at all times, particularly in the area of the toilet, wash basin, shower, and service locks. Only approved compounds shall be used to clean the chamber, components, and clothing used in the pressurized environment. During wet excursions, close attention shall be paid to routine postdive cleaning of the diver-worn equipment to prevent rashes and skin infections.

Upon completing a saturation dive, the chamber should be well ventilated, emptied, and liberally washed down with non-ionic detergent (MIL-D-16791) and water and then closed. Additionally, all chamber bedding, linens, and clothing shall be washed.

Food Preparation and Handling

All food provided to the divers during a saturation diving evolution shall meet the standards prescribed in NAVMED P-5010. All food locked in shall be inspected by the Dive Watch Supervisor or Dive Watch Officer. The Saturation Diving Medical Officer should inspect food preparation areas daily.

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