DAN (Divers Alert Network) has been around for awhile, and have been the go to source for information on emergency care in the dive community. Like nearly everyone in the dive industry DAN has a history of being behind the times when it comes to taking advantage of 21st century technology, but in the last year DAN has made some major changes in the way they conduct business in a technology based world.
In the last three years DAN has taken some major steps in taking advantage of the technology available to us in the 21st century. Digital subscriptions to Alert Diver Magazine, a SecondLife simulator, FaceBook chats and an update to a cms based website are just a few of the adjustments the North Carolina based non-profit has made.
These are all big steps but the most significant is about to be released. For the last couple of years DAN’s training department under the leadership of Brian H. Wake, has been working on a complete revamp of DAN Training programs. Not only are the new programs bringing DAN’s courses in line with 2011 International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) standards, but they are also being designed to take full advantage of available technologies. By taking advantage of today’s technology the courses are now easier to update and have a smaller overhead for instructors, all of which resulting in lower costs for students.
While there have been a lot of delays in getting everything off the ground, you have to give DAN credit for making the move. DAN is one of the only organizations in the dive community that has truly embraced the technology available to them, and as a small company it does take time to make major changes.
In the past DAN is one of those business memberships that you just had and the course were ones that you might conduct a few a year (last year I only did 41 DAN certifications). With the new updates and the new courses on the horizon I am excited to be one of the only DAN Instructor trainers (not counting DAN employees) who is able to offer the entire DAN line of courses. As I finish the process of getting out new store up and running, I am extremely please to say we have already been awarded the status of DAN Training Center and have every expectation that the DAN programs will become our most frequently provided medical programs for divers.
The first major change, and perhaps the most significant one is the restructuring of the courses being offered. In the past DAN could not be considered a go to solution for medical training; while all DAN courses required CPR / First aid training, DAN didn’t offer a CPR / First aid course. Due to the lack of a CPR / First aid course, DAN Instructors had to be authorized with another training agency such as Emergency First Response or American Red Cross. With the release of the 2012 courses DAN is new preparing to launch a CPR / First Aid course that meets the same international standards as the Red Cross programs. By introducing this new program DAN instructors are finally able to offer an entire training package through DAN.
For as long as I can remember DAN has been the leader in oxygen care training for the dive community. DAN’s oxygen program has been so popular with divers that PADI mirrored the course and introduced the PADI Emergency Oxygen provider specialty course. One of the biggest complaints about the DAN Oxygen Provider courses is in the past there has been two courses the provider course and the advanced course. Most DAN Instructors have traditionally offered the course as a single combined course, since advanced only offers a couple additional skills that most instructors consider to be essential information. With the new course structure DAN got the message and has now merged the courses into a single prom known as DAN Emergency Oxygen Care. The course is also no longer divided into scuba and aquatic programs. This division never really made since to me since they were basically the same course with the only difference being terminology.
The DAN Emergency Oxygen Care course, even following the updates still does not provide the same level of training as the Red Cross course. Although the DAN course may not provide the same training as the Red Cross version of the course they are not designed for the same audience. The American Red Cross Oxygen Provider course is a professional level course design for medical professionals, such as EMT’s, while the DAN course is designed for divers and dive professionals. The difference between the two programs is advanced level oxygen care skills including pulse oximetry, airway suctioning, airway control devices and oxygen delivery via the nasopharyngeal (nasal) passage. While the lack of these topics may prevent the course from meeting requirements for EMT’s, these modules are ones that would not relevant for those in the dive community.
The next major adjustment to the course structure is with the package known as the DEMP (Dive Emergency Management Provider), the DEMP program has been one of the most popular ways of taking DAN programs in the past. This combined program used to include: Oxygen Provider, Advanced Oxygen Provider, AED’s for Scuba Divers and Hazardous Marine Injury First aid. With the release of the new structure the DEMP program still includes four course they are not the same. The new DEMP program will now include Basic Life Support (CPR / First Aid), Emergency Oxygen Care, Neurological Assessment and First Aid for Hazardous Marine Life Injuries.
The transition of the Neurological Assessment course is a great addition to the DEMP program, many DAN instructors have already been providing this course as an add on to the old DEMP program. Much like the oxygen programs DAN saw the writing on the wall and included the program as a requirement of the new DEMP program. The Neurological Assessment course designed to introduce divers to conducting neurological assessments for divers suspected of having decompression sickness.
In addition to those programs included in the DEMP program DAN will also offer two additional layperson courses: Dive Medicine for Divers and Diving First Aid for Professional Divers. Resulting in a total six different layperson level courses in the new DAN educational system instead of the fifteen available in the past. Emergency professionals can also join DAN instructors for courses including Dive Emergency Medical Technician (an upgrade for EMT’s) and CPR Health Care Provider with First Aid.
Course Materials have always been one of the draw backs of the DAN training programs. Student manuals were overly expensive and lacked the quality that was found in PADI, EFR and Red Cross Courses for similar courses. Although the materials from a content stand point were great the appearance put people off right from the beginning. DAN has finally changed the course materials and this time have left no stone unturned when it comes to producing a quality product. The new student manuals will now not only be available in a printed form but also as a PDF or Apple Enhanced eBook for the iPad. Digital versions of the student materials will be available completely free of charge and include integrated digital enhancements allowing students to obtain additional information on advanced topics through built in links. Those students using the printed version of the materials will have access to the same enhancements via QR codes found through out the manuals.
Student Materials are not the only enhancements to the course materials with the new updates; instructor materials, presentations and videos have all been updated. This update will address the complaint from DAN Instructors that the videos and presentations were integrated into one another making it hard to use the DVD’s on traditional DVD players. Like the student materials all instructor manuals will now be available via download with out a charge to the instructor.
By going fully digital with course materials; instructors are no longer burdened with having to pay for updated materials every time a small change is made to the materials. This will DAN Education to roll out changes to the materials more rapidly and with out excessive cost for production or to the instructors.
I have always had mixed feelings about eLearning programs, which is interesting considering my technology based background. When I work with most students who do eLearning for courses I always find I have to supplement the information with instructor lead webchats or in person sessions. To this point that has not been the case with any of the students I have worked with who have taken the DAN Instructor Core online, and I hope the same will apply to the provider level eLearning.
Although not much is being said about the eLearning programs at this point, I would keep an eye out for it this summer, as it is likely to be the first thing addressed once the new course materials are available to the general public.