As noted in last month’s E-Slate, the AAUS convened a workshop of federal and NGO partner agencies in Denver, CO June 25th-26th. All participants agreed a more united scientific diving community that facilitates greater working relationships amongst partner agencies (likely to include more international partnerships in the coming years) should be a common goal moving forward. While the primary purpose of this workshop was to examine the OSHA Scientific Diving Exemption relative to the evolution of underwater research, the group also discussed mechanisms to increase inter-agency communications and enhance reciprocity.
With respect to medical standards, all agencies agree that scientific divers should be subject to medical/fitness review and, in addition to the required exam, physicians can perform additional testing as warranted. Nonetheless, there are currently significant differences between the medical requirements of all partner agencies that have resulted in constraints to reciprocity. There was consensus among all partner agencies that a re-evaluation of medical standards is warranted to ensure safety within and between scientific diving programs. To address this issue, AAUS and our partner agencies plan to convene an expert medical panel in the near future (note: it has been ~7 years since the last expert panel examined medical standards). The mandate of this panel will be to provide a comprehensive assessment of scientific diving medical standards based on current diving physiology data and medical recommendations. All partner agencies have committed their DMOs to this meeting, and all are optimistic that consensual standards will further inter-agency reciprocity and cooperation. We hope to have more information on the status of this medical panel by the Annual Symposium. If you have questions or concerns about any of this information, please do not hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In other business, I would like to congratulate Ross Whippo who was elected to the AAUS Director-at-Large position; he will serve a three-year term on the Board of Directors beginning 01 January 2019.
University of Mississippi