Some divers have asked DAN about using their personal oxygen units to treat people with COVID-19. Divers’ eagerness to help during this crisis is truly admirable. However, DAN does not support the use of these emergency oxygen units for indications other than scuba diving injuries and cases of nonfatal drowning by anyone other than medical professionals.
Adherence to these guidelines is important even in the current circumstances because of lay providers’ unfamiliarity with possible comorbidities and contraindications (which include some respiratory diseases) and the high transmissibility of the virus, among other factors.
DAN oxygen units and oxygen provider training are intended only for use in scuba diving injuries and nonfatal drowning incidents. Even with a manually triggered ventilator (MTV-100), it would be virtually impossible to ventilate a critically ill patient with the right ventilation parameters and for the length of time required to treat COVID-19. Patients with severe respiratory distress may need invasive ventilatory measures (i.e., an endotracheal tube or a laryngeal mask) with continuous ventilation and positive end-expiratory pressure (PEEP), none of which can be achieved with first aid equipment.
For more information from Divers Alert Network on COVID-19 please visit DAN.org/COVID-19.
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