The Need to Breathe: Alpena FWCO
Builds a Research Dive Team
BY MARGRET HUTTON, ALPENA FWCO – WATERFORD MICHIGAN SUB STATION
Justin Chiotti (left) assists in a mock drill to practice their first aid and oxygen
administration skills. Credit: USFWS Eric Stadig
Staff from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO), Waterford Substation, attended an oxygen administration first aid course as a step towards completing the requirements for SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) certification for the Department of the Interior. The course was taught at the Huron SCUBA dive shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan and focused on the ability to assist and administer oxygen to a distressed diver.
Diving can be very rewarding but it can also be dangerous if done incorrectly. Primary injuries that occur to SCUBA divers are decompression illnesses, which include decompression sickness (DCS), or the bends, and arterial gas embolism (AGE). Both illnesses can be serious and require further medical treatment. By administering oxygen as soon as signs and symptoms are recognized, the diver has an increased chance of making a full recovery.
Many divers in the Great Lakes visit the waters that connect Lake Huron and Lake Erie, which include the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, and Lake St. Clair. The draw for SCUBA divers includes multiple shipwrecks in the area, along with the native wildlife that utilize these structures for shelter.
Service employees from the Waterford Substation during the spring, summer, and fall months are commonly within these areas, sampling for threatened, commercial, and sports fish species. Due to the amount of people exploiting this area, the new training will allow us to provide assistance to any distressed diver as the situation arises.
The oxygen administration first aid course fulfills one of the requirements to become a diver for the Department of the Interior. Once fully certified, employees from the Waterford Substation will be able to assist other offices within Region 3 when SCUBA assistance is needed.