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Diving Medicine

The NOAA Diving Program (NDP) has a full-time Diving Medical Officer (DMOs) on staff at its headquarters in Seattle, Washington: U.S. Public Health Service Officer LCDR Gary Montgomery. He provides training in basic first aid as well as diving-specific maladies and hyperbaric chamber treatments to Diving Medical Technicians and DMOs who work in the field. He is available to NOAA Divers and diving supervisors to provide advice and recommendations, as well as to examine divers when in Seattle. He actively monitors the diving physicals and annual updates of all NOAA Divers to ensure every diver is fit to dive.

DMOs and NDP instructors educate and prepare divers and support personnel for diving emergencies. Rapid rescues and appropriate emergency responses are an important part of the NOAA Diver’s basic curriculum and is included throughout all of the diving courses.

NOAA Diving Medical Review Board

The NDP is assisted in its medical determinations by the NOAA Diving Medical Review Board (NDMRB), a panel of five physicians and researchers that are considered to be world leaders in the field of diving medicine. Many of them teach at major, well respected medical universities and have written the text books that are currently in wide use for their respective fields of expertise. Chaired by LCDR Montgomery, the NDMRB convenes only at the request of the NOAA Diving Control and Safety Board (NDCSB) or by request of the NDMRB Chair, mainly to discuss potentially disqualify medical conditions of NOAA Divers. The NDMRB exists only as a consulting body that provides opinions to the NDP for further consideration.

NOAA Diving Medical Manuals

The NOAA Diving Medical Standards and Procedures Manual provides guidance on medical requirements and potentially disqualifying medical conditions for NOAA Divers. It is the medical policy manual for the NDP.

The Operating Standards for NOAA Hyperbaric Chambers provides information on the specific personnel requirements, types of equipment, and methods of operation of hyperbaric chambers at NOAA. 

NOAA Diving Emergencies

In the event of an accident that involves injury to a NOAA Diver requiring medical intervention beyond first aid, personnel at the site should first call 911 and/or arrange for an emergency evacuation. After the patient has been stabilized and/or emergency personnel has been called, a call should be made to the NOAA Diving Medical Officer to notify the NDP of the accident.

A NOAA Diving Program DMO can be reached at:

  • 855-UBA-DIVE (855-822-3483)
  • Or (from a satellite phone) 206-526-6986

Diving Fitness and Medical Supplies

To maintain fitness to dive, it is imperative that divers recognize the need for a continual and aggressive exercise program that exceeds basic health maintenance standards. Learn more here.

Diving medical supplies are also important. Learn more here.

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Reviewed: February 10, 2021. Contact us with page issues.

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