Fitness to Dive is the physical fitness or the competency of a professional as well as a recreational diver, with which he can manage safely under the water, with appropriate equipment and a suitable underwater environment. Before a diver goes underwater, he/she is subjected to a battery of fitness tests including medical and legal examinations. All these procedures are performed for two reasons (Carl Edmonds, 2015 )
The three major factors which are to be considered while assessing fitness to dive are the diver’s physical condition, mental stability and medical fitness. In addition to meeting the fitness guidelines, the diver must not possess any condition that poses risk to diving. The factors that need to be considered for physical fitness testing are similar for both professional divers and recreational divers, the former being a little stricter than the latter. Primarily, a written declaration statement of his fitness, previous medical history, and consent is provided by the diver.
Safety in diving is dependant not only on the diver’s fitness to dive, but also the diving equipment and environmental conditions. According to Blumenberg (1996), the dynamic underwater environment is a major contributor to the diver’s physical and mental fitness. Though the changes in temperature, pressure, and other factors underwater cannot be modified, they must be well analysed as they are decisive in the equipment preparation and the commencement of the dive.
Underwater pressure is one of the major factors to be considered while diving, as the human lung is not suited to breathe normally in the high pressures of the sea. In the below table, the risks presented by the pressure changes in the underwater environment are listed.
In diving, there is a great risk of accidents and a greater susceptibility of the diver to be impacted with an issue in the variations in pressures, underwater environment, the equipments, newly acquired or resurfacing dormant health conditions, etc. A major part of diving medicine concerns with taking care of the safety of the divers. Usually, the diving procedures involve issues at varying atmospheric parameters, the most practical way in the medical management is stabilizing the diver until normal temperature and pressure levels are attained. The sea covers more than 70% of the land, and expert medical care cannot be found at all its shores. There are areas where the diver dives in a remote location, and even a diving chamber is many hours apart. In these situations, the diver must be stabilized, and sustained for a longer period of time, before expert opinion is obtained. Ideally, when there is no chamber on site, the points to be considered by an onsite medical professional are (Pitkin, 2003)