RNLI offers divers free health checks at Plymouth dive centre

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Plymouth-based diving health charity DDRC Healthcare are encouraging divers to check their fitness for free as they bring a mobile health kiosk to Plymouth.

The In Deep Diving Centre at Plymouth’s Mount Batten Watersports and Activities Centre is hosting the RNLI’s Wellpoint dive health machine for the next six weeks.

The RNLI and DDRC are offering the free, self-service check-up as part of a longstanding collaboration aimed at reducing the number of health-related diving incidents in the UK.

In the past 10 years, an average of 13 divers died each year in UK waters. There is strong evidence to suggest that non-diving related medical incidents, such as heart attacks, played a part in many of these deaths.

The RNLI and DDRC want divers to understand the impact their health can have on their ability to dive safety – an issue that often goes ignored. This is especially important for male divers over 45, who are statistically at greater risk of experiencing a medical incident while diving.

In Deep Diving Centre has secured an ideal location for the kiosk in the main reception area of the Mount Batten Centre for the next six weeks. And although the campaign is directed at divers, anyone can have a go!

The machine gives a quick and easy indication of your general health in just 10 minutes. The machine measures your heart rate, blood pressure, weight, body mass index (BMI) and body fat. It also estimates your risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years as well as your heart age.

The results are confidential and neither the kiosk nor the RNLI store any personal details. Divers can take away a printout of their results or have them sent by email. While the kiosk is not a substitute for medical advice, the RNLI and DDRC hope it will encourage divers to speak to their GP or other health professional if their results suggest an elevated risk of heart disease.

As a world-renowned centre of excellence in diving medicine, DDRC Healthcare has been conducting research into the health of divers for many years,looking into conditions that might affect their ability to dive safely. The charity also offers advice on diving with medical conditions on its website: www.ddrc.org.

Dr Gary Smerdon, DDRC Healthcare’s CEO and Research Director said: “We are delighted to make the kiosk available in a prime location for divers from across the South West and beyond. It is really important to have an understanding of your personal health and fitness to fully enjoy your diving and to dive safely. This campaign simply encourages people to seek health advice and potentially make lifestyle changes if they might be at higher risk of heart disease. I would encourage everyone to give it a try, even if you are not a diver!”

Contact Details

Kathryn Epps Communications & Fundraising Manager at [email protected]

01752 237 142 or 01752 209 999


Twitter/Facebook @DDRCPlymouth

Notes to Editors (Further information):

· DDRC Healthcare is a medical treatment, training and research charity, based at the Hyperbaric Medical Centre in Plymouth Science Park, Derriford, Plymouth PL6 8BU.

· The charity was established in 1980 as the ‘Diving Diseases Research Centre’. We relocated in 1996 from Bovisand to Derriford. In 2013 the name was changed to ‘DDRC Healthcare’.

· We provide a 24/7 on call service to treat medical emergencies requiring hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy, including decompression illness (aka ‘the bends’), carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene and necrotising fasciitis.

· Approximately one third of our patients are divers.

· The majority of patients receive routine hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy for conditions including tissue damaged by radiation therapy and non-healing wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers (often potential amputations),

· We have a large multi-place hyperbaric chamber which can take 9 patients, 2 smaller multi-place chambers and 1 mono-place (single user) chamber.

· DDRC Healthcare is the only hyperbaric medical centre in England which is also a UK registered charity (no.279652).

· DDRC Healthcare answers all calls to the national British Hyperbaric Association (BHA) National Diving Accident Helpline on 07831 151 523.

· We are a European Centre of Excellence for diving and hyperbaric medicine and work on a number of international research activities exploring how hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatment works and its efficacy for various conditions.

· We have two trading subsidiaries: DDRC Professional Services Ltd and DDRC Medical Services Ltd.

· The Senior Management Team is; CEO/ Research Director Dr Gary Smerdon, Medical Director Dr Clair Ashford, Operations Director Mr Peter Atkey and Finance Manager Mr Richard Wate.

About the RNLI

· The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea. Its 4,700 volunteer lifeboat crew members provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. In 2016, RNLI lifeboat crews across the UK and Ireland launched 8,851 times, rescuing 8,643 people and saving 431 lives. For more information on the RNLI please visit www.rnli.org.uk.

RNLI/Jessica Putt

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

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