Happy anniversaries, and plural indeed!
Next month begins the fourth decade of the Certification in Hyperbaric Technology program. The first CHT certificate was issued on October 17, 1991. Since then, 4,643 allied health professionals have successfully challenged the certification exam. Of that impressive number 1,155 remain certified/operationally active today.
This year also marks the 25th (silver) anniversary of the hyperbaric nursing certification program. Several of the Baromedical Nursing Association’s leadership undertook an essential audit of the exam in late 1995, with the CHRN program formally launched the following year. At this time of writing, 1,374 nurses have been certified over the past quarter century and 505 remain clinically active within the practice of hyperbaric medicine.
As a reminder, the NBDHMT as a certifying organization had its genesis in the world of the commercial/professional diver. Accidents and injuries were somewhat commonplace, and particularly testing to manage in the geographic and medical remoteness of the offshore oil and gas industry. When they occurred within a pressurized chamber complex related clinical management was additionally challenging, as there was invariably no on-site source of knowledge and skill. Common oil industry practice was to not allow their rig medics to pressure-up to treat an injured diver as it would require many hours, even days, before they could be safely returned to surface pressure, with 100 or more rig workers lacking access to urgent medical care in the interim. One exception I do recall was the good Charlie Duff, a highly respected pharmacist mate and barge medic. During one rotation in the Gulf of Mexico in 1969 Charlie entered a saturation diving chamber to spend more than 50 hours supporting a critically ill diver who had been almost completely eviscerated…utterly heroic stuff.
The diver medic certification program was the solution to sourcing an on-site "tip of the spear" diving accident management capability, with the National Board developing its curriculum, instructor accreditation requirements and eventual standardized DMT certification exam.
Dick Clarke, President
National Board of Diving & Hyperbaric Medical Technology
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Updated September 15, 2021