Completing the classroom training, thankfully, was not a prerequisite to being assigned to a dive team. I have been going in to NAIB to work with the Friday A Dive Team for the last month or so. The first couple of days (a month for dive volunteers) have been “dry days.” That means shadowing the diver who’s been assigned topside narration at the Ray Tray (aka: “Wings in the Water” exhibit with the rays, sharks, tarpon and turtle) and who is the safety monitor on the platform in both exhibits.
After a couple of those, a diver would normally begin his or her “wet days.” In my case, the comprehensive physical exam required by the Dive Safety Officers (DSOs) held me up a bit. This is not your everyday physical exam. In addition to the standard tests for vision, hearing, urinalysis, blood work, etc; divers in training are required to take an EKG, a Pulmonary Function Test and get a chest X-Ray. These results are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), so if you do this, don’t just have the results sent to your primary care physician for a sign-off—get copies and bring them in.
I am happy to say that my lungs are long enough to require two X-rays, top to bottom. And I have the lung capacity and oxygen metabolism of a teenager who’s never smoked! That was big news for me, since I recently quit smoking after about 20 years. I never smoked all that much, and I’ve always kept in relatively decent shape, but nonetheless, this was a surprise… So in the last year or so, I’ve lost over 20 lbs., quit smoking, and gotten the most comprehensive physical of my life with the best results. Yay me. Makes me want to start smoking again and introduce more pizza and Scotch into my diet.
Anyway, remember that all of the physical results need to get to the DSOs in order to get wet. It’s hard enough to arrange for all the tests (did the EKG at my pcp, the chest X-ray at a med center in Alexandria, the PFT at Arlington hospital—scheduling everything was a mild little nightmare.) Once all the results were faxed in to my physician, she signed off on all the forms I was given by NAIB. But OSHA requires all the actual results as well, and understandably so. And until they have everything, you’re dry. Not having absolutely all the paperwork with the DSO cost me my first two dives with the team.
all photos © Jeff Nesmith