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What I’ve Learned: Alessandro Marroni

Alessandro Marroni planning the psychometric tests

74, Roseto Abruzzi, Italy

I became a scuba diver at age 13, but had to wait five years until I could actually become certified.

I became a certified SCUBA instructor, with CMAS, in 1966.

Obviously, this was just before PADI® existed.

It wasn’t until nearly 20 years later, in 1983,thatI crossed over and became a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor.

I got my medical degree in 1971 and immediately moved into Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine.

I always thought I’d become a doctor. Once I discovered the underwater world, I also got interested in the medical side of diving – specifically, how humans can adapt to it.

One of my biggest fascinations has been saturation diving, and the effect of nitrogen and other inert gases on the body at depth.

The biggest misconception most divers have about saturation diving is that it’s something like living under the sea.

That’s not really true. Saturation diving is a way to limit decompression risk and prolong useful bottom time in the commercial and scientific diving realms.

It allows divers to live in a dry, pressurized habitat, completing excursion dives from the “storage” to the working depth without need for decompression, until the final one “returns them to Earth.”

In 1973 I spent a month with Jacques Mayol during his world record breathhold dives at Elba Island, assisting him as a “dive doc” and studying human performance and cardiovascular adaptation in extreme breathhold diving.

It was unforgettable.

He gave me the time to measure his mental performance, manual dexterity and heart rate at depth. All of this took at least a minute at bottom and we did it for all the training dives before his record attempt.

Imagine that. Almost a month with daily dives in the 70-80 metre (230-262 feet) range. He also gave me that time to measure his heart rate on the record dive to 86 metres (282 feet).

I wasn’t on trimix for his record-setting dive. I had a 50-minute decompression requirement for a 10-minute bottom time, and the overall time was 65 minutes. I never saw Jacques’ triumphant surfacing and could only imagine it from my deco stop depth!

Me at Buhlmann’s Experimental Saturation Diving System in Zurich

I’ve never really had any negative encounters or a really dangerous dive.

Since diving safety is my mantra, I’ll admit I’ve managed my diving well (or been lucky!) enough not to experience any significant emergency during my recreational/instructional diving life.

As a diving medical officer, I sure have seen a few awful things though.

The worst was when a saturation diver was sucked into a sealine through an accidentally opened port at nearly 80 meters/262 feet. Both his hands were sucked in with an 8 ata pressure differential and he couldn’t be freed (unless we were to amputate his arms).

It took almost eight hours until a brave buddy of his dived close to him and unbolted the port from the sealine – at his own risk of being sucked in too.

The diver was freed and brought back to the saturation habitat, where I started conservative medical treatment that lasted over four days, while the habitat was decompressed to sea level.

Accidents happen, even in extremely safety-aware environments like commercial diving.

Me now

I founded International Diving Assistance (IDA) in 1982.

Eight years later, Dr. Peter Bennett (founder of DAN America in 1980) and I decided to unite forces, so IDA became DAN Europe. Branches in Australia, Japan, South Africa soon joined up and DAN International was born.

We’re doing some really cool studies at DAN Europe now.

We just launched the first-in-the-world bachelor degree in the diving industry, called the Bachelor of Science in Diving Safety Management.

This has been a dream of mine and I pursued it for four years until it finally came to fruition.

Another successful project is underwater real-time telemedicine, allowing immersed divers – wearing “intelligent garments” equipped with sensors and connected to his/her dive computer – to connect with a remote “mission control.”

We can geo-locate the diver anywhere in the world and receive real-time physiological and dive data to monitor the diver’s status and provide guidance for best ascent-deco profiles, as well to provide assistance in case of an emergency.

Me, my daughter Laura and PADI CEO Drew Richardson, 2019

I’ve been married to my wife, Nuccia, for 35 years.

She’s the person I started my DAN adventures with, and is still pivotal in everything I do.

We have two daughters, Francesca and Laura.

I never pushed them to learn how to dive, but they both did. Laura is now an active PADI Instructor and also a tec diver.

A motto I live by? Anything that has good legswill eventually walk.

The best piece of advice I ever got was from my father: “Be patient, respect yourself and others, follow your way, your vision and what you think is right.”

Follow your vision and dreams, but learn from your mistakes.

Based on an article that appeared in the First Quarter 2021 The Undersea Journal®

The post What I’ve Learned: Alessandro Marroni appeared first on PADI Pros.

Europe, Middle East & Africa, DAN, DAN Europe, Italy, PADIPADI Pros

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