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Diving Hyperb Med. 2017 Dec;47(4):239-247. doi: 10.28920/dhm47.4.239-247.

Lost at sea: the medicine, physiology and psychology of prolonged immersion.

Author information

1
Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Spinnaker Building, Cambridge Road, Portsmouth PO1 2ER, UK, heather.massey@port.ac.uk.
2
Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, United Kingdom.
3
Formerly Medical Director, Hyperbaric Medicine Unit, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand.
4
Emergency Medicine Department, Wellington Hospital, Wellington, New Zealand.

Abstract

In most countries, immersion represents the second most common cause of accidental death in children and the third in adults. Between 2010 and 2013, 561 deaths worldwide involving recreational divers were recorded by the Divers Alert Network. Consequently, there is no room for complacency when diving. Being lost at sea is a diver's worst nightmare. In 2006, a diver was lost at sea off the coast of New Zealand for 75 hours. It is unprecedented that, after such a long time immersed in temperate (16-17°C) waters, he was found and survived. His case is presented and utilised to illustrate the many physiological and psychological factors involved in prolonged immersion and what might determine survival under such circumstances. We also briefly review options for enhancing diver location at sea and a few issues related to search and rescue operations are discussed.

KEYWORDS:

Diving incidents; Environment; Hypothermia; Immersion; Psychology; Review article

PMID:
29241234
PMCID:
PMC6706340
DOI:
10.28920/dhm47.4.239-247
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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