Accidents during operational diving have on some occasions resulted in situations where the divers have been left in the diving bell or welding habitat at the sea bottom for several hours. In some of these situations, there have been casualties due to hypothermia. As a result, the diving industry and authorities have required that emergency equipment be developed and installed in the diving systems.
The early emergency systems consisted of passive insulation systems and a lung powered CO2-scrubber/respiratory heat exchanger. From tests as well as actual emergency situations, it has been 'pointed out that certain improvements are required. The systems should include some means of preventing urine-wetting of the insulation system. In addition, the divers are reluctant to undress their regular diving suit as they are concerned that they would later be unable to put it on again during the rescue operation.
The aim of the reported project has been to develop and test a new emergency system. New elements are a urine collection system and an evacuation system which could be used as a hot water suit and prevent the necessity of changing suits. The evacuation suit was tested during a simulated dive to 450 metres and fulfilled the requirements for prevention of cold water shock.
The passive insulation system and the lung powered CO2-scrubber/ rebreather have further been improved ergonomically and with regards to thermal properties.