15-22 DEEP DIVING SYSTEM (DDS) EMERGENCY PROCEDURES

DEEP DIVING SYSTEM (DDS) EMERGENCY PROCEDURES

Major DDS emergencies include loss of atmosphere control, loss of depth control and fire in the DDC. Emergencies will be covered by locally prepared and NAVSEA- or NAVFAC-approved emergency procedures. The following are guidelines for establishing these procedures.

Loss of Chamber Atmosphere Control

Loss of chamber atmosphere control includes loss of oxygen control, high carbon dioxide level, chamber atmosphere contamination and loss of temperature control.

Loss of Oxygen Control

Divers can be safely exposed to chamber oxygen partial pressures between 0.16 and 1.25 ata; however, efforts should be implemented immediately to correct the problem and reestablish normal oxygen levels. For an oxygen partial pressure from 0.16 to 0.48 ata, the normal oxygen addition system can be used to increase the oxygen level slowly over time. For an oxygen partial pressure above 0.48, it may be necessary to secure the oxygen addition system and allow the divers to breathe down the chamber oxygen to a normal level. Table 15-3 lists the chamber oxygen exposure time limits. If these limits are exceeded, the divers should be placed on BIBS and the chamber ventilated to reduce the oxygen level.

Loss of Carbon Dioxide Control

When the DDC’s life-support system loses its ability to absorb carbon dioxide, the level of carbon dioxide within the chamber will rise at a rate depending on the chamber size and the combined carbon dioxide production rate of the divers. An increasing carbon dioxide level may be the result of exhaustion of the carbon dioxide absorbent or inadequate gas flow through the carbon dioxide absorbent canister. If, after the carbon dioxide absorbent canister is changed, chamber carbon dioxide level still cannot be brought under 0.005 ata (3.8 mmhg), the flow through the canister may be inadequate. Divers shall don BIBS when the chamber carbon dioxide level exceeds 0.06 ata (45.6 mmhg).

Atmosphere Contamination

If an abnormal odor is detected or if several divers report symptoms of eye or lung irritation, coughing, headache, or impaired performance, contamination of the chamber atmosphere should be suspected. The divers shall be placed on BIBS and emergency procedures executed. The divers should be isolated in the part of the complex thought to be least contaminated. Test the chamber atmosphere using chemical detector tubes or by collecting a gas sample for analysis on the surface, as described in paragraph 15-19.2. If atmosphere contamination is found, the divers should be moved to the chamber or PTC with the least level of contamination and this chamber isolated from the rest of the complex.(45.6 mmhg).

Interpretation of the Analysis

The allowable contaminant limits within a diving system are based upon the Threshold Limit Values (TLV) for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents guidelines published by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH). TLVs are the timeweighted average concentration for an 8-hour work day and a 40-hour work week, to which nearly all workers can be repeatedly exposed day after day without adverse effect. These guidelines are published yearly and should be used to determine acceptability. Because the partial pressure of a gas generally causes its physiological effects, the published limits must be corrected for the expected maximum operating depth (ata) of the diving system.

The solution to an atmosphere contamination problem centers around identifying the source of contamination and correcting it. Gas samples from suspected sources must be checked for contaminants. Special attention should be given to recently changed and cleaned piping sections, gas hoses, and diver umbilicals, any of which may contain residual cleaning solvents. Surfaced chambers should be thoroughly ventilated with air or a breathable helium-oxygen mixture (to prevent hypoxia in maintenance personnel), inspected, and thoroughly scrubbed down to remove residual contaminants. These chambers can then be compressed to depth using a gas bank that is free of contaminants, the divers can be transferred to this chamber, and the surface cleaning process can be repeated on the remaining chamber(s). After cleaning and compression to depth, the chamber should be checked periodically for recurrence of the contamination.

Loss of Temperature Control

Loss of temperature control of more than 2–3°F above or below the comfort level may lead to severe thermal stress in the divers. Studies have shown that heat loss by perspiring is less effective in a hyperbaric atmosphere. Heating a chamber to warm up cold divers may result in the divers rapidly becoming overheated. Heat stroke may then become a possibility. The potential for uncontrolled chamber heating occurs when chambers and PTCs are exposed to direct sunlight

When the chamber temperature falls, the divers begin intense shivering and hypothermia develops unless rapid and aggressive measures are taken to correct the problem. Divers may be provided with insulated clothing, blankets, and sleeping bags. The best of these insulators are of limited effectiveness within the heliumoxygen environment and will provide marginal protection until the problem can be corrected. Special thermal protection systems have been designed for the use within DDCs. These systems include thermal protection garments, insulating deck pads or hammocks, and combination carbon dioxide absorbent and respiratoryheat regenerator systems.

Loss of Depth Control

Loss of depth control is defined as a pressure loss or gain that cannot be controlled within the normal capabilities of the system. When loss of depth control is encountered, all deployed divers shall be recovered immediately and all divers placed on BIBS. Attempt to control depth by exhausting excess gas or adding helium to minimize depth loss until the cause can be found and corrected. If the depth change is in excess of that allowed by the Unlimited Duration Excursion Tables, the divers should be returned to the original storage depth immediately and the Diving Medical Officer notified.

Fire in the DDC

Because fire within a DDC may progress rapidly, the divers and watchstanders must immediately activate the fire suppression system and secure the oxygen system as soon as a fire is suspected. When the fire suppression system is activated, all divers shall immediately go on BIBS. Watchstanders should monitor depth carefully because an extensive fire will cause an increase in depth. If the fire suppression system fails to extinguish the fire, rapid compression of the chamber with helium may extinguish the fire, in that helium lowers the oxygen concentration and promotes heat transfer. After the fire is extinguished, chamber atmosphere contaminant emergency procedures shall be followed.

PTC Emergencies

PTC emergencies, like DDC emergencies, require specific, timely, and uniform responses in order to prevent injury or casualty to divers, watchstanders, and equipment.

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