That Guide was called Risk Assessment Guide for Recompression Facilities. It was specifically aimed at facilities in areas where national guidelines do not exist; to provide guidance on how to establish, manage and maintain a treatment facility safely, cost-effectively, and within international expectations. The Guide has since been used widely in the Caribbean and Asia, and is available in English and Spanish.
As an extension to this project, DAN Europe has then embarked on a collaborative process with the recompression facilities within its region.
A First Step is to perform an overall safety and risk assessment of the facilities, in tandem with the facility management team. This visit is not an inspection; it is an interactive attempt to identify needs and to help facilities to understand their own systems, solve the problems they may be facing, and better understand the applicable international requirements. It is especially intended to empower both owners and the residing doctor so that they can be confident about the safety of their facility, and consequently more capable of managing these vital service centres according to international principles and standards. In the process liability is also minimised if inadvertent injuries or mishaps should occur. To date there is no better defence than documented proof of a concerted and thorough safety and risk assessment. The whole process inspires confidence, both on the side of the service centre and on the side of those referring patients to their care.
Here is what some of the recompression facilities, where the process has already been implemented, have had to say:
…at last we have found someone to explain why things are needed and not just because the rule books say we have to have them ….
… at first we thought that this was just another inspection that would tell us what we’re doing wrong; however, we soon found out that we had so much to learn and that we could actually manage our facility safely without having to spend more money…….
…. what a professional service and what a meaningful way for DAN to show it’s commitment to our services…… and the best of all is that we now know where to turn to for advice before we start our next facility project ……
First on the list of facilities to respond to this invitation was the very busy and efficient facility in Sharm el Sheik (Egypt), in the year 2005.
A thorough assessment of the facility was conducted, together with Dr Adel Taher and his staff. The final report, issued by DAN Europe concluded that the Sharm recompression chamber facility was a purpose-built, modern establishment, with dedicated and trained staff, and a high degree of safety awareness and practices. Patient assessments, reporting and education procedures were found comprehensive.
In the report was written: "The facility is well-planned and maintained, neat and fully functional within the context of the community, geographical location and degree of local support and infra-structure. A thorough awareness of safety and operating procedures is clearly evident in the day-to-day activities. As currently managed and maintained, there are no significant reasons to doubt the safety levels, and divers should receive treatments for non-life threatening decompression illness (...) that are at least as safe as what the minimum industry standards demand".
What striked one immediately, said Francois Burman (a Director of DAN Southern Africa, registered professional engineer, compiler of the IDAN Risk Assessment Guide and lead assessor for the DAN Europe Safety Campaign), was how busy the Sharm diving region was, and especially how dedicated the staff at the Hyperbaric Medical Centre were. These facilities did not need all the possible bells and whistles to do a great job. What they might have lacked in terms of surrounding technical support, they more than made up for in an awareness of what was needed to manage an effective safety regimen and run a high quality service.
Dr “Adel”, the DAN Egypt co-ordinator, is a most dedicated hyperbaric and diving physician, who places the needs of injured divers and his other patients before his own. His contribution to Sharm is so easy to gauge when you see the recognition given to him by the local professionals.
The DAN Europe assessment team, currently made up of Francois Burman and Guy Thomas (Dan Europe Training Manager), also visited the Naval Hyperbaric Medical Centre in Hurghada during their same visit in 2005. Even with all the security requirements inherent to military facilities, the team was welcomed and impressed by this modern, well-equipped and motivated treatment centre right on the doorstep of another popular Red Sea diving region.