Dive Operations Plan Review and Approval
It is the responsibility of the Dive Science and Safety Program to review all dive operation plans submitted for approval. The plan should be submitted at least five days prior to undertaking a research dive to permit review. If the dive is in anyway an increased risk dive, such as a cave dive or a deep dive, or if conducted out of the USA, it should be submitted earlier as it may require the entire board review it prior to approval or disapproval. The Dive Operations Plan (DOP) should clearly state the anticipated environmental conditions to be encountered, diver qualifications, and the risks anticipated and the actions/plans formulated to minimize or cope with the risks noted. Several programs approved in the past include steps such as prior contact with the USCG, or the EMS/hyperbaric chamber flight crew to clarify necessary contact conditions for any emergency such as helicopter landing site, ambulance meeting site, arranging for on-site decompression chamber and attendant coverage, etc. Approval will be provided and a project number assigned by which to identify all related activities, records, and documents with the DSSP. The DOP will be approved as an individual dive or dive period or as a blanket dive project good for a specific period of time. The maximum time any DOP is valid without up-date/renewal is one year.
Diver Qualifications Evaluation and Training
All new divers must complete a set of documents covering medical history, experience and training, liability waiver, a Physical Exam, and a water skills and knowledge evaluation. These are currently at the level of completion for open water scuba class to permit new and recently trained divers to participate in projects which pose no complex advanced skills needs. If the project includes complex or at risk activities further evaluation may be necessary. In addition, all divers must submit copies of their diver certification cards, their CPR/First Aid and Oxygen Provider training. The latter items must be current according to the standards of the certifying agency.
Training in diving may be with any agency. Advanced training when needed may also be with the appropriate agency may be provided by the DSSP or project with which the diver is participating. Specific skills such as use of Surface Supplied Air, Nitrox, Side Scan Sonar, etc. may be taught by the project dive master or scientist, given that an outline and plan have been presented to the DSSP for review and approval.
Program Activity Oversight
The DSSP is intended to provide a resource for the dive projects to obtain supplemental training, gear and services as qualifications and budget permits. The DSO is also available to participate in projects as on-sight Dive Safety Officer, diver, or safety diver. In some cases, references to additional cadre of divers can be arranged. Reciprocity letters are available to other institutions upon request.
Decompression Table Consideration
The DSSP has reviewed the decompression tables in use throughout the country and has approved the US Navy, NOAA and NAUI divetables. These in one of several formats are the only authorized tables.. The use of Equivalent Air Depth formulation is an accepted mode of computing nitrox decompression use if Nitrox tables are not available. It is strongly recommended that any dive which takes the diver within two groups of the no-decompression limits take a minimum safety stop of 5 minutes at 15 feet.