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22nd September 2017 - Are You For Scuba?

The initial interest sparked at the thought of diving at midnight at NDAC.

Following a little bit of research what unfurled before our masks was truly remarkable, this was not about chasing an adrenaline high or reaching extremes but about divers who love diving.

James Neal and Neal Breeden are two incredible figures of recovery, Neal had a stroke in 2008 and still uses a wheel chair partly today, and James suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage.

James, although outwardly recovered from his injury, still suffers from fatigue. He struggles with the invisibility of his disability; “I suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage and whilst I might appear completely recovered on the outside, you can’t and don’t see what I have to deal with, or understand the problems I face, on a daily basis," he said.

To come back and gain enough fitness to carry on diving is an incredible testament to their dedication to diving. Watching the other members of Cheltenham Sub Aqua Club you can see that they have played a massive past in both divers' recovery. CSAC had a different vibe to most dive clubs, a truly supportive group it was a pleasure to have been welcomed by them.

The event was a 24 hour scuba dive that took place over 16/17th September 2017 at the very well known inland site called the National Dive and Activity Centre, in Chepstow to raise money for a brain injury charity called Headway Gloucestershire that helped both the lead divers get back to health. Headway is dedicated to providing help and support to people who have had brain injuries and also their families, carers and partners.

James and Neal led the way and were the first divers in the water to kick start the 24 hours. My faithful buddy and I jumped in at next to dive with Neal, and we enjoyed a wonderful dive being guided about the lake by Neal, which included a good tour of the underwater attractions and then it was back to the shot for 13:25 on the dot so the next divers could come in their support diver slot.

It was then upstairs to the classroom to meet our chamber nurse, Ian, who was giving a presentation on DCI. The talk was fantastic, as ever, and as I sat in the classroom I thought about the divers and how they were still going down by the waters edge, only four hours into their mission.

Our next call time was 11.30pm. This was it, midnight diving ahoy. I was excited although the long day was clearly catching up with everybody a little and I was feeling cold. Primary light charged, back ups were plied with fresh batteries and fears of the dark were put into the back of my mind; we were ready to go.

The dive marshals were ushering us into the water so we were not a minute late to meet the team on the shot line, you could see the lights of the dive team already in water approaching the line. Stepping off the pontoon was a great feeling into the dark emerald still water of the quarry but there was no fear as the surprise element of an unexpected sea creatures popping past had been taken away.

Another half an hour with Neal and then we were back to the shot to pick up James. It was a special dive, and half way though, I am not sure if it was the cold, lack of sleep, depth or dark but remarkably a small plastic scuba diver kicking his feet travelled past the view finder of my mask.

A cheeky Mungo then appeared to catch the small toy before it drifter into Davy Jones’ locker and gave me a smile over the look of his rebreather loop.

To have Chepstow to ourselves at the stroke of midnight was quite something, the depths were there enticing us but we had to refrain from breaking the 25m depth limit set but the insurers.

Best bit? Spotting all the sleeping perch scattered around the attractions similar to small pickled fish blissfully unaware of the light sabre strength torches doing their best to disturb them. It was a special dive.

Sitting on our beds at 3.30am drinking black tea and eating vegan biscuits with Mungo and Ian talking about the dive was a nice feeling. Those lads were still out in the cold, making the machine work and putting everything into the running of the event. Quite incredible for divers to be ready on time!

The last dive of the day was just before midday. Spirits were high and everyone was smiling, the end was in under an hour. Press had gathered to mark the end of the wonderful success.

Thank you to all the people involved in the production and execution of this diver it was run with admirable military precision.

Thank you for having us everyone, but whoever suggested next year should be 48 hours…

Comments from James Neal and some of the crew:

James Neal: “I don't know where to begin... well, actually, that's not true. I know exactly where to begin.

And it's with a genuine heart felt thank you. I don't think I've ever been quite so taken aback by anything as I was by the support that you guys have given this event and in so doing, Neal and myself.

So much so in fact that upon surfacing at the end it was as much as I could do just to hold myself together. The upwelling of emotion was profound and unexpected. Deeply touched.

Thank you one and all.

The way we ran the 24 hour dive and the effort that you all put into it is testament to all of you guys and the club. It strikes at the very essence of what makes CSAC so very special. I know of no other club that has that quality. I think it's something that is genuinely unique to Cheltenham Sub Aqua Club and the type of people that our club attracts... nothing short of the very best, decent people with a sound moral compass that are always willing and prepared to put others before themselves. I applaud you all.

Thank you once again for putting your heart and soul into this event and thank you for supporting me and my errant ways.

Love you guys. Thank you.

Andy: “The emails went out. I opened the attachments for the dive schedule and dive marshal. It then became a reality and the excitement set in. It was only when I took the first shift of dive marshal it really set in. The reality of the event hit home. The orchestration of this was nuts. The planning to make it both safe and successful was huge. This I did not realise until now. The work behind the scenes to make sure all divers had enough surface interval and down time needs applauding. It was amazing to see the team pull together. From setting up on the Friday to the NDAC staff staying up all night to fill our tanks. We salute you all!

As for the diving bit, what a journey and what a lot of fun. Meeting someone on the shot at one o’clock in the morning and continuing your dive had a special and very unique feeling. At the grand finally, being in the water with that many divers all pulling together was another special experience. Which I doubt I'll see again for a long time, if ever.

Promotion of our club, awareness of headway and brain injury, huge amounts of money raised and new friends made. What more can you want from a weekend diving.”

Jack G: “The 'force' was strong when professional divers and novices came together from around the UK to stand up for a very important charity. The event has shown that the team spirit and good-naturedness of the diving community is making a positive difference in the world. I think this brilliant event has uncovered the tip of the iceberg in terms of what divers can do for their communities, given a little encouragement and a visionary organiser like James Neal.

CSAC's 24 hour dive for Headway is a fantastic example that can be replicated in support of any important cause relevant to the diving community. The use of diving for health rehabilitation and the need to preserve ocean ecosystems are two such causes that spring to mind.

Why not give a 24-hour fundraising dive a go with your dive club? It might be the best thing you do all year!”

Dr Oliver Firth

 
25th July 2017 - On these grey summer days, it's easy to forget what is really happening while we sun ourselves lake side post dive in half on wetsuits.
Suncream or rain protection kind of weather.

"Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young." Those of a certain (somewhat advanced) age may remember Baz Luhrmann's epic global hit choon of yesteryear, "Everybody's free (to wear sunscreen)" (aka the Sunscreen Song, Class of '99). The lyrics are a salutary lesson intended to help people live a happier life and avoid common frustrations, and were lifted from a column in the Chicago Tribune written by the journalist Mary Schmich. She later explained that the initial inspiration for what advice to offer came from seeing a young woman sunbathing, and hoping that she was wearing sunscreen, unlike what she herself did at that age. She makes many good points.

Despite the recent traditional effort by the UK's clouds to dampen the dry summer months, we're still looking at high UV warnings most days; and so this is just a reminder to slip (on a shirt), slop (on the SPF 30+ sunscreen), slap (on a hat), and slide (on some sunglasses). Whilst basking in the sun may help warm you up and dry you off during a surface interval, your unprotected skin is at risk of accumulating DNA damage that could lead to skin cancers in later life. Towel off, seek the shade, and look after your skin. It's the only one you've got.

Dr Oliver Firth

 
7th June 2016 - Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy can improve Traumatic Brain injury and Fibromyalgia

I would like to take a moment to share with readers this video from The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Reasearch in Israel.

Click here to watch HBOT video.

As aforementioned on this very blog, the center has long been at the forefront of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments, and this video expertly shows the profound and life changing effects that HBOT has had on patients suffering from traumatic brain injury and Fibromyalgia.

Unfortunately, just like many of these Israeli patients, patients in the UK will find that treatment for such injuries using HBOT is plagued with NHS funding issues and a distinct lack of clinical referrals or support; despite extensive research from organisations such as The Sagol Center that undoubtably prove the benefits of HBOT in treating these conditions.

This means that many patients who could greatly benefit from HBOT in England, must either go without, or burden the heavy costs of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments themselves.

At LDC we are working closely with The British Hyperbaric Association and NHS England to help improve the situation and hopefully work towards a future where HBOT is accessible and affordable to all who will benefit from it.

If you would like to know more on the benefits of HBOT, the conditions it can treat, or how you can help to raise awareness, then please call 01788 579 555 (for Midlands and North based patients) or 020 7806 4021 (for London and the South of England).

Thanks for watching,

Doc.

Dr Oliver Firth

 
5th May 2016 - Fight for Every Heartbeat

Hello readers,

Just a general musing for this week is to highlight the importance of the British Heart Foundation's scheme to provide local public spaces with public access defibrillators (PADs).

The British Heart Foundations Our Nation of Lifesavers Community package offers part funding for a public access defibrillator and Call Push Rescue training kit. The scheme has been so popular that by the time I am writing this, the Department of Health Defibrillator funding programme in England has now closed as an overwhelming demand in applications has meant that all of £1 million of funding has now been allocated.

If you've never used, or even heard of, a defibrillator, then you really should have. You may have noticed them in your locality, at the gym, train station or your local village hall, sitting in a briefcase sized box on the wall, it is there for anyone to use on someone who is in cardiac arrest. They are simple and safe to use and require little to no training to operate, and, most importantly, they could save someone's life.

When someone goes into cardiac arrest, every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation reduces someone's chances of survival by 10 per cent. The first thing that a 999 operator will instruct you to do is to find out if there is a public access defibrillator nearby, and tell you to use it. Therefore it is imperative that our communities have access to these life saving devices and that charities like the British Heart Foundation continue to push to raise awareness and accessibility for PAD's to be accessible in local communities up and down the country.

For the untrained first responder on the scene, the prospect of using a technical piece of medical equipment for the first time, especially when someone's life is hanging in the balance, can be a daunting experience. However, defibrillators are very easy to use, yes they can vary in appearance and functionality, but each ones comes with easy to follow, step-by-step spoken instructions that you simply have to follow. There are also many First Aid , First Aid at Work and AED courses that you can take to make sure that if the worst does happen, that you are prepared. More often than not, many employers will fund First Aid courses for nominated employees, so it is worth checking whether you are eligible to take one.

As aforementioned, the Nation of Lifesavers Community scheme has now closed, however for a comprehensive guide on obtaining and using a PAD read this Guide to Defibrillators and visit the Resuscitation Council UK website.

So go forth,and make every second count!

Dr Oliver Firth
 
Comments on this post:
 
18/06/2016

Thank you so much for posting this. I have been in situations where a defibrillator was not available and the outcome was death. With a defibrillator the victim as least stands a chance. I am so glad to hear that the UK is providing public defibrillators, which the USA does not yet do. Sincerely, Donald Jacobson MD

disabled psychiatrist and sleep medicine specialist and former diver, now dive medicine and safety blogger at- www.scubagearpro.com/blog

Donald Jacobson MD

 
13th April 2016 - Thinking of career change? Maybe we can help...
Scenario training from LDC Training

As the resident diving doc at LDC I see many a diver walk through my door on daily basis, whether for a DCI emergency case, a fit to dive query for recreational divers, or more frequently, a HSE dive medical.

The HSE medical is required by all commercial divers to be able to legally and safely work in their industry, which got me to thinking. I wonder if any of our recreational divers, instructors and DM's, have ever thought about turning their passion into a full time, highly paid, job?

It's a big step, and one that requires total commitment, but a career in commercial diving can offer you substantial returns, plus an exciting and rewarding profession.

Everyday at the chamber we see commercial divers who travel to all four corners of the globe for work, from the North Sea to the Indian Ocean even off the coasts of Africa. Of course long stints away from home may not appeal to everyone, but lucrative work can also be found closer to home on many inshore projects. Despite a slump in oil prices, the oil and gas industry is still the single largest employer in the subsea sector and there a positive developments being made right now to ensure that that a large volume of employment will be served by the offshore renewables sector over the next decade.

This means that there will continue to be a demand for offshore personnel including divers, ROV pilots and Life Support Technicians (LSTs).

How do I make the step? You might be wondering. Well on site at LDC we have our very own training facility in the form of LDC-Training, and with that the tools to get you your first step on the commercial diving ladder.

The Assistant Life Support Technician Course at LDC Training enables participants to enter the rewarding commercial diving industry, irrespective of his or her background and qualifications. This course is an International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) approved certification that is recognised internationally by the commercial diving industry.

An A.L.S.T. is part of a team responsible for maintaining life support for divers living within hyperbaric saturation environments during offshore diving operations worldwide on fixed platforms and Dive Support Vessels.

With ever more expansion in the oil and gas sector and new developments emerging in offshore wind farms, there is still a continued demand for divers. There is no denying that this can be a tough job physically and emotionally, but for those who want a challenge, a career in commercial diving could be open up a whole new world of opportunity and success.

At the start of their careers, most divers will build initial experience with inshore diving work before making the move to better paid jobs offshore and your first foot on the ladder will be to start your L.S.T training.

What can you expect to learn on the A.L.S.T?

The course provides a comprehensive theory and practical element, which prepares the new entrant for work as an Assistant Life Support Technician (ALST).

The A.L.S.T course is a 10 day program run over a two week period, no prior experience is needed, although a basic knowledge of physics and mathematics would be an advantage. On completion of the course, and after having successfully passed the LDC-Training in-house examinations, you are issued with an IMCA approved certificate.

For information on course dates or to book, visit LDC Training today.

Thanks for reading,

Doc.

Dr Oliver Firth

 
13th April 2016 - Thinking of career change? Maybe we can help...
Scenario training from LDC Training

As the resident diving doc at LDC I see many a diver walk through my door on daily basis, whether for a DCI emergency case, a fit to dive query for recreational divers, or more frequently, a HSE dive medical.

The HSE medical is required by all commercial divers to be able to legally and safely work in their industry, which got me to thinking. I wonder if any of our recreational divers, instructors and DM's, have ever thought about turning their passion into a full time, highly paid, job?

It’s a big step, and one that requires total commitment, but a career in commercial diving can offer you substantial returns, plus an exciting and rewarding profession.

Everyday at the chamber we see commercial divers who travel to all four corners of the globe for work, from the North Sea to the Indian Ocean even off the coasts of Africa. Of course long stints away from home may not appeal to everyone, but lucrative work can also be found closer to home on many inshore projects. Despite a slump in oil prices, the oil and gas industry is still the single largest employer in the subsea sector and there a positive developments being made right now to ensure that that a large volume of employment will be served by the offshore renewables sector over the next decade.

This means that there will continue to be a demand for offshore personnel including divers, ROV pilots and Life Support Technicians (LSTs).

How do I make the step? You might be wondering. Well on site at LDC we have our very own training facility in the form of LDC-Training, and with that the tools to get you your first step on the commercial diving ladder.

The Assistant Life Support Technician Course at LDC Training enables participants to enter the rewarding commercial diving industry, irrespective of his or her background and qualifications. This course is an International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) approved certification that is recognised internationally by the commercial diving industry.

An A.L.S.T. is part of a team responsible for maintaining life support for divers living within hyperbaric saturation environments during offshore diving operations worldwide on fixed platforms and Dive Support Vessels.

With ever more expansion in the oil and gas sector and new developments emerging in offshore wind farms, there is still a continued demand for divers. There is no denying that this can be a tough job physically and emotionally, but for those who want a challenge, a career in commercial diving could be open up a whole new world of opportunity and success.

At the start of their careers, most divers will build initial experience with inshore diving work before making the move to better paid jobs offshore and your first foot on the ladder will be to start your L.S.T training.

What can you expect to learn on the A.L.S.T?

The course provides a comprehensive theory and practical element, which prepares the new entrant for work as an Assistant Life Support Technician (ALST).

The A.L.S.T course is a 10 day program run over a two week period, no prior experience is needed, although a basic knowledge of physics and mathematics would be an advantage. On completion of the course, and after having successfully passed the LDC-Training in-house examinations, you are issued with an IMCA approved certificate.

For information on course dates or to book, visit LDC Training today.

Thanks for reading,

Doc.

Dr Oliver Firth

 
17th March 2016 - Dive Lectures 2016
From left: Jules Eden, Graham Hancock, Patrick Spain, Liam Coffey

Well howdy LDC visitors, just a quick word to say what a splendid evening the 2016 Dive Lectures at the RGS were.

After a dramatic day at the office whereby we were informed at the eleventh hour that our opening speaker, Lord Prescott, had to cancel to attend a mightily important immigration bill vote in the House of Lords, and thus had to scramble to his office to film the opener instead, it was a great relief to get to the bar while the lecture theatre filled up at the Royal Geographical Society.

Prescott, although not there in physical form, delivered a magnificent opening address and managed to light up the stage with just the right amount of humour and fascinating diving experience. Followed by the sprightly and energetic Bostonian, Pat Spain (off Nat Geo Wild fame) and a mind blowing archaeological mind trip from Graham Hancock, it was fair to say that the Dive Lectures 2016 was a very enjoyable night to remember.

Most importantly we were all there to support Scuba Trust, and donations on the night totalled a great £2051. I think this was greatly helped by the wonderful Liam Coffey from the Trust who gave a great presentation on diving with a disability.

Many thanks to all who came, especially those who purchased a copy of FAQ Dive Medicine.

See you all next year folks!

Dr Oliver Firth

 
6th October 2015 - England crash out of the rugby world cup while Japan use HBOT to get players fighting fit!
Gift from the Japanese team.

As the English nation struggle to come to terms with the national team crashing out of our own world cup at record breaking speed, Japan have been utilising the facilities close to their training camp in Warwick to get their players fighting fit for their next game.

Long time advocates of using HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) to accelerate recovery time in injured players, the Japanese team have ensured that any soft tissue damage their key players have sustained during the competition will not be the reason for their defeat, by opting to take the players for treatment at the Midlands Diving Chamber in Rugby for daily HBOT treatments.

Whilst we feel for the England team and their early exit from the competition, we cannot help but admire the determination and duty of care that the Japanese coaches clearly have for their players as they fight for their place amongst the other heavy weight rugby playing nations. Being the break out stars of the Rugby World Cup so far, we wish them the best of luck in their next match!

Dr Oliver Firth

 
5th October 2015 - Israel Leads the way in Hyperbaric Research
The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine

The Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research based in Assaf Harofeh is currently the largest hyperbaric facility in Israel and one of the biggest worldwide, treating more than 120 patients per day.

As well us using HBOT for burns, radiation injuries and non-helaing ulcers, The Sagol Center has also started research into using hyperbaric oxygen therapy for different types of brain injuries, proposing a brighter future for many patients who could now benefit from the non-invasive, highly effective treatment. Read more about the research and facilities at the Sagol Center by clicking here.

Dr Oliver Firth

 
15th March 2012 - FAQ Dive Medicine!
FAQ Dive Medicine - available to purchase at Amazon

Spring is doing its hardest to live up to its name - the daffodils are cautiously unfurling their dazzling yellow petals, the residents of St John's Wood are donning ridiculous sunglasses to sip their frappuccino's outdoors, and I can finally reveal what we at LDC have been beavering away on for the last few months. Much like the aforementioned dam-building semi-aquatic rodent, we've avoided hibernation this winter, and instead constructed our own literary cathedral: the ultimate medical guide to this sport we all love, which we've called FAQ DIVE MEDICINE.

Composed and compiled from our vast archives of medical memorabilia, and wittily edited together by Tanked Up's resident comedian Rob Hunt, it's been a gestation and labour of some devotion. To continue with the somewhat queasy antenatal metaphor, delivery has now taken place and you'll be pleased to hear both parents and offspring are doing well, with multiple identical copies winging their way to depots all over the country pending official release on 31st March. Within its 336 pages of wholesome, aquatic, full-colour goodness you're sure to find tidbits and morsels to ruminate on, chew over, roll thoughtfully around the tastebuds, and eventually swallow, releasing all sorts of diving-based information and anecdotes into your thirsty brains.

Forget tablets from a certain fruit-based computer company; this is THE hot product right now. For those many millions of you who just can't bear the prospect of not owning a copy as soon as possible, you can pre-order on Amazon via the link below.

I look forward to hearing what you all think!

Oli

http://www.amazon.co.uk/FAQ-Dive-Medicine-Oliver-Firth/dp/095534672X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331568301&sr=1-1

Dr Oliver Firth

 
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