UW News

April 22, 2004

Friday Harbor research diver saves companion who lost consciousness in water

Two research divers with the UW’s Friday Harbor Laboratories are safe and well this week after an underwater incident Thursday, April 15, where one lost consciousness and was brought to the surface and given emergency medical assistance by the other.

The divers, who always go underwater in pairs for safety, were at a depth of about 65 feet at the Friday Harbor labs when one started having trouble breathing, passed out and was brought to the surface by the other, according to Richard Strathmann, biology faculty member and resident associate director of the lab.

The diver who lost consciousness was brought to the surface and resuscitated by in-water rescue breathing techniques, and was then taken for evaluation to Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, which has a decompression chamber, and later released.

Strathmann said the incident is being investigated by the lab and other UW authorities.

Research diving at the UW is done under the oversight of the Diving Control Board and rescue diving is part of the required training for research divers. That training made the difference in the fast and effective response of the divers involved, authorities say.