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 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.
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.
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.
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