Security and prevention: interviewing Dr. Alessandro Marroni

Dr. Alessandro Marroni is the Founder and President of the DAN Europe Group. He is also Vice President of the European Committee for Hyperbaric Medicine (ECHM) and General Secretary of the European Foundation for the Education in Baromedicine. Furthermore, he is Lecturer of the four Masters in Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine in Italy and of one Master in South Africa and Serbia.

He is also the author and director of the three-year Bachelor’s degree program in “Management of the Diving Tourism” at the “International School of Diving Safety and Medicine” of Malta, starting next year.

Dr. Alessandro Marroni will give speeches at the EUBS Congress on the 13,14,15,16 September during the “SINSEC Sister Society”, “Diving Medicine Research 3”, “ECHM Workshop” and “DAN Divers Day” sessions.

Dr. Marroni, please tell us more about your speech during the EUBS Congress

At the EUBS Congress, we will bring the results of the most recent research on physiology and epidemiology in professional and recreational diving taken by the Research Division of the DAN Group. Research will deal with the analysis of the habits and accidents and physiopathology in extreme environments, which is typical of the field research DAN has been carrying out for nearly 20 years. Besides the specific projects we usually carry out, for example the real-time telemetry monitoring with data transmission by acoustic modem through water barrier, such as blood sugar or blood pressure, it also registers data deriving from the analysis of 100,000 diving in a relational database concerning recreational diving. This database analyses and electronically registers habits, kind of diving, production of registered bubbles and all the diving parameters.

Security in diving is moving rapidly from a dogmatic approach to a conscious approach: before there were some almost universal rules; now we are noticing, especially from the epidemiological analysis of these tens of thousands of diving, and we will discuss it deeply during the Congress, that there is a strong individual component in answering and reacting to the exposure to an extraordinary environment and to the incidence of problems. This may depend on various factors, such as gender, age, certain kind of behaviours, humoral, metabolic and hormonal patterns. It’s is clearly emerging that it is not only a strict mathematical calculation issue on decompression but that reaction is influenced by individual components. Prevention of diving accidents, individual factors, but also prevention and preconditioning customization, that is to say intervening on the improvement of resistance thus reducing the sensibility to stimuli and external assaults coming from the underwater environment, are becoming extremely important. Nowadays research is gradually moving towards this direction together with an increase in data recording technological capacity, data transmission through water, bidirectional interaction with satellite systems and interactive databases.

Which specific problems and sectors is your activity focused on?

We deal with all kind of diving; DAN Group is an international research institute recognised by the Ministry of University and Research in Italy and it originally deals with recreational diving. Indeed, we deal with all kind of diving at all depths, including professional and commercial diving and all physiopathology exposures in extraordinary environments. At the moment we work together with ALTEC – Thales Alenia Space, the company that hosts the operating centre of the International Space Station and ESA.

We have a professional collaboration with them, in terms of study and research to investigate the similarities of the human exposures in these extraordinary environments that have three factors in common: varying oxygen concentrations, pressure variations, absence of weight and gravity. These factors occur both in diving and space exposure; therefore there are similar physio pathological reactions and risks. In Turin Altec has a “Neutral Buoyancy” pool that simulates weight absence and that is used for diving for research purposes. There is also the institutional 24/7 worldwide activity assistance with alarm control units. We have been carrying out this activity for 35 years, with more than 5000 interventions each year as second-level expert headquarters for the 112 and 118 services of different regions and especially Lombardia.

In your opinion, what are the three factors that are mainly influencing and changing the sector you deal with?

In my view the three factors that are mainly influencing and changing the sector are the following: technological development that provides more reliable tools, physiological study of the individual variations and the necessity to have interactive databases that can be interpreted from a statistical and epidemiological point of view. Until now, what missed in the diving world are numbers: systems, methods and solutions can’t be considered valid if they are only supported by thousands evidences and 2000 and 3000 data. This can’t provide certainties; indeed studies on epidemiological basis, hundreds of thousands of data to be inserted in a relational database are necessary. Since 1993 we, as DAN; have been carrying out these studies and we are currently the only organization that can boast these numbers and develop relational epidemiological and statistical analysis of this kind.

We thank Dr. Marroni for his availability and we are looking forward to listening to his intervention at the EUBS Congress 2017!

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