Underwater accidents remain relatively rare, but Duke University Medical Center clinicians—who operate a Divers Alert Network from Durham, NC—note that about 300,000 new divers are trained each year in this country. Thus, they say, there may be as many as 3 million active sport SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) divers "who make an undetermined number of dives yearly," and among whom about 500 may encounter problems.
To assist with these specialized injuries, the Duke team maintains a 24-hour emergency hotline at (919) 684-8111 that accepts collect calls about diving accidents. A nonemergency information line is available at (919) 684-2948 for medical questions related to diving, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM EST. The program originally was federally funded (JAMA [MEDICAL NEWS] 1981;246:1879). Now it relies on contributions from sport divers and medical groups and offers memberships at $10 per year that include a manual, newsletter, and other information.