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    By Ty Sawyer
    Photo by Bonnie J. Cardone

    DAN Insurance
    Recently, I was diving off Anacapa Island in Californiaís Northern Channel Islands. It was the third dive of the day at a shallow site and we had been in the water about 20 minutes in ideal conditions.

    It took a minute to register it, but I heard a noise, far off, sort of familiar. At first I thought it was a ringing in my ears, so I cleared them. The sound persisted. Then, slowly, the sound came into focus. I realized I was hearing the recall siren from the dive boat.

    My first thought was, 'I havenít been down that long.' Then it dawned on me. Someoneís in trouble.

    In 15 years of diving Iíd listened dutifully to pre-dive briefings and heard divemasters tell us time and again about the recall siren. Until now I had never heard one underwater. But once heard, there is no mistaking the sound.

    My buddy and I quickly navigated our way back to the anchor-line, made our three minute safety stop and surfaced. We could see the crew administering oxygen to a prone figure on the deck.

    One by one we boarded, all wondering what happened. No one knew yet. A diver had shot to the surface. Embolized? Stroke Victim? We could only guess. But, one thing was for certain, Divers Alert Network (DAN) was already on the job.

    Coverage: Enrollment in Travel Assist ($100,000 in enrollment evacuation, medical, travel, and personal assistance for diver and immediate family whether or not emergency is dive related)
    Limitations: Emergency must occur 50 miles or more from home
    Premium: Individual: $29 per year; Family: $39 per year
    Coverage: $45,000 lifetime coverage for DCS
    Limitations: 130 foot depth limitation; excludes non- diving injuries
    Premium: $25 per year ($54, including membership dues)
    Coverage: $50,000 lifetime coverage for DCS; $10,000 accidental death and dismemberment; $1,000 permanent total disability
    Limitations: 130 foot depth limitation; excludes nondiving injuries
    Premium: $30 per year ($59, including membership dues)
    Coverage: $125,000 lifetime coverage for DCS; $15,000 accidental death and dismemberment; $15,000 permanent total disability; plus, in case of dive accident, $1,500 accommodations, $2,500 lost dive equipment
    Limitations: No depth limitation; excludes nondiving injuries
    Premium: $35 per year ($64, including membership dues)
    The boat captain had probably called DANís 24 hour emergency hotline immediately for the location of the nearest operating hyperbaric chamber, physician and chamber operator notification (Medical Services Program) and more. The administration of the oxygen and on deck emergency procedures had probably been taught in a DAN sanctioned oxygen provider course. If the victim was a DAN member, relevant medical and insurance information was already being processed directly from DANís member medical database and forwarded to the chamber. In addition, as a DAN member his evacuation will be handled by Travel Assist, an automatic benefit of DAN membership. If the victim wasnít a DAN member, DAN would still help coordinate evacuation and medical help. So, in a way, membership dues help all divers in trouble, itís just effortless if youíre a member.

    Meanwhile, back on deck, a divemaster told us to secure all our gear. The Coast Guard helicopter was on its way to airlift the victim and any loose gear would be blown overboard by the prop wash.

    After locking down our gear we moved to the sun deck, out of the way. We still hadnít learned much. The victim was a single and had been diving with a new buddy who knew only his first name. One minute they were diving together, the next his buddy was at the surface. We were quizzed. No one else knew the victim either. The divemasters quickly searched the bunks below decks for his identification. (A simple DAN tag attached to his tank or BC tank wouldíve alleviated any identity questions.)

    We heard the chopper first, then it appeared, a familiar orange and white, on the horizon. Within a minute the chopper was hovering overhead. We were all silent now, watching the rescue, watching as the unmoving victim was placed in the cage and winched up and into the chopper, then whisked away.

    Before the next dive, before I geared up and got into the water, I checked one thing. My DAN member card. I wanted to make sure it hadn't expired (1 had let it lapse on occasion). I wondered if the man I'd just seen airlifted had DAN insurance, hoped he did, hoped he was OK, too.

    My DAN card was still valid. And a huge sense of relief came with that knowledge.

    Later, as the dive boat was returning to the harbor, the captain reported that the victim was responding well in the Northridge Hospital hyperbaric chamber. We had learned more, too. There had not been an dive emergency, seemingly not even a moment of panic. The accident just happened. This was a DAN card moment and those without DAN insurance that day vowed to get it. The unanimous opinion was that every diver should have it and every diver should be a DAN member. The benefits far out-weighed the costs. There's nothing quite like watching an emergency airlift to galvanize divers' opinions about the value of dive insurance. But, DAN is more than just insurance, DAN is a ready-made plan, DAN supports the well-being of all divers worldwide, 24 hours a day, and DAN is always the first place called during an emergency.

    And, unlike nearly everything divers do or buy, DAN membership and insurance is cheap (see sidebar). Can you really afford to dive without it? For more information, call DAN at (800) 446-2671.

    Online Note: Sign up with DAN now from our transactions section.