[abstract] ASSESSMENT OF MEDICAL RISK IN PRESSURIZED SUBMARINE ESCAPE TRAINING

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[abstract] ASSESSMENT OF MEDICAL RISK IN PRESSURIZED SUBMARINE ESCAPE TRAINING

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Title: [abstract] ASSESSMENT OF MEDICAL RISK IN PRESSURIZED SUBMARINE ESCAPE TRAINING
Author: Weathersby, PK; Ryder, SJ; Francis, TJR; Stepke, BK
Abstract: BACKGROUND: We were asked to review the maximum depth of submarine escape training at which there is a "high level of confidence in the safety of the students." There are two current submarine escape training techniques: buoyant ascent, in which a life jacket is worn and controlled exhalation is required during ascent to avoid pulmonary overinflation and hooded ascent, in which the escaper breathes normally from air retained in a hood worn over the head. The maximum safe depth of escape is constrained by the rate at which the central nervous system can clear nitrogen which it has accumulated during the compression and early part of the ascent. For survivors in an unpressurized submarine this depth is estimated to be about 600 feet of seawater. The other principal medical hazard is pulmonary barotrauma. METHODS: Data were obtained from a review of the literature and reports from 11 nations which currently conduct escape training from depths ranging from 3 to more than 100 feet. Because diagnostic standards vary with time and between observers, incidents were defined as any untoward even remarked upon by the author of each report. Our analysis is limited by lack of a common diagnostic standard. RESULTS: Hooded ascent appears to be the safer technique, with an incident rate of between 0.1 to 0.6 per 1000 escapes and a fatality rate 10 to 50 times lower than that. For buoyant ascents the incident range was 1 to 19 per 1000 escapes. For each method of escape, there appears to be a trend toward a higher incidence rate with increasing depths. CONCLUSION: There is a substantial random component to the incidence of pulmonary barotrauma in pressurized submarine escape training, which means that there is no completely safe training depth. Hooded ascents are safer than buoyant ascents and shallow ascents are safer than deep ones.
Description: Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc. (http://www.uhms.org )
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/689
Date: 1998

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  • UHMS Meeting Abstracts
    This is a collection of the published abstracts from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) annual meetings.

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