Founded in 1983 as International Diving Assistance (IDA) by dr. Alessandro Marroni, DAN Europe was the first 24 hour diving emergency assistance service, set up as a membership organization, with specific insurance benefits since the very beginning.
During the same period, in the year 1980, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, DAN America — known then as the Diving Accident Network — formed at Duke University Medical Center, USA, under the guidance of prof. Peter B. Bennet.
In 1984 the Diver Emergency Service (DES) was started in Australia and New Zealand by drs. Des Gorman and "Fred" Gilligan. and in 1987 the Civil Alert Network (CAN) began assisting diving emergencies in Japan, under the guidance of prof. Yoshihiro Mano of the University of Tokyo Medical School.
Although independently and not yet cooperating, the four organisations were supporting diving safety by providing similar 24-hour Diving Emergency Hotlines and non-emergency Diving Medicine Information Services. In case of a diving accident, qualified Hyperbaric and Diving Medicine Specialists would be available to assist the injured diver and to consult with local emergency medical personnel to coordinate medical evacuation and treatment and to provide the best care possible.
Other important scopes were also pursued by the four organisations in similar ways and with surprisingly similar results: the regular collection of recreational diving accident data, or the elaboration of periodical statistical reports on recreational diving accidents.
The need for an international organisation that would be available to all divers, wherever they dived around the world, became increasingly apparent and, during a historical meeting at DAN Headquarters in Durham, N.C., USA, in February 1991, the process to form an International DAN was started. The four existing organisations decided to adopt the common name of DAN and DAN Europe, DAN Australia and DAN Japan became parts of the International DAN (IDAN) organisation, together with DAN USA. DAN Southern Africa joined the IDAN in 1996.