Author Archives: Emily Hellmann

A Bittersweet Goodbye

After 2½ months of living the dream, I have to say goodbye to lovely Durham this week. This summer was definitely not enough time to accomplish everything — I would need about a year to finish the multiple dive safety programs and test them out. That being said, I did accomplish quite a bit in this short time, from “saving” the online seminars to starting a module for DAN First-Aid instructors looking at effective teaching practices. It was a hard-working summer that I wouldn’t change for the world.

As I am packing, I have been reflecting on this wonderful experience, full of new people and opportunities. From the other interns in Research to the people who make up DAN, everyone has been a pleasure to meet. I am so blessed to have been able to see first-hand how this company functions.

I would really love to thank DAN, for sponsoring this internship and allowing me to be in this environment; Patty, for being an amazing mentor and teacher these months; and lastly to the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society for creating this internship with DAN.

This summer was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am so happy that I was able to experience it.

Now I am on to my next adventure: senior year at Old Dominion University!


Behind the Scenes!

This week we did not go on any field trips, but it was far from boring!

DAN is in the middle of a website “makeover,” which includes the online seminars being offered at no charge to their members. With the introduction of the eLearning platform, all existing modules needed to be copied from the original platform, then formatted to fit the eLearning platform. I downloaded and formatted seven different modules, plus the modules used internally by the Institutional Review Board. Programs to check out later when they are launched are:

  • Pathophysiology and Decompression Illness
  • Breathing Underwater is an Unnatural Act
  • Inert Gas Exchange, Bubbles, and Decompression Theory
  • Ears and Diving
  • Diabetes and Diving
  • Optimal Path
  • Pathophysiology of DCI

This is what the formatting screen looks like before an image is added.

And this is what the formatting screen looks like after an image is added.

This is what the final product will look like on eLearning.

This was a great experience — much different from what I had been doing here with the field trips and the classes. It was so cool to be able to go “behind the scenes” to help build the DAN online education programs.

The other project I am working on is creating a program for DAN instructors on education theory and teaching methodologies. I am focusing on “effective teaching practices” for adult learners. This is something I have been looking forward to since Patty brought up the idea. The process and research that needed to be done for this program are so different from what I am used to — teaching practices for children. It is interesting to see the other side of teaching practices and compare what I have learned in my university classes with what I am learning here.


Statistics, Cylinders and Chambers, Oh My!

Last week was one memorable week here at DAN! I nicknamed it “field-trip” week since most of the week was spent going to different places and experiencing new things. The three places we visited were SAS, Luxfer Gas Cylinders and the Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Environmental Physiology (also known as the Duke hyperbaric chambers).

SAS is a data-analysis company to which customers can submit data for SAS to identify trends they need to monitor. Different types of companies, both local and international, utilize their services, including the city of Durham, Lufthansa Airline and even the transportation departments in North Carolina. The campus where the company is housed is humongous, as big as a college campus! They also have a broad range of services for employees, from gyms to health clinics they can visit.

The next field trip was to Luxfer Gas Cylinders in Graham, North Carolina. Here, we did two things: took a class and a toured the cylinder-manufacturing facility. The class was the Professional Scuba Inspectors (PSI) visual cylinder inspection. Our amazing teacher was Mark Gresham, president of PSI. The group went over so much important content, but there were plenty of interesting stories and hands-on examples that helped break up the course and enhance our understanding of what he was teaching us. During the tour, we went from beginning to end to see how the cylinders were manufactured, packaged and shipped. They start off as small aluminum blocks, and with some squishing and painting, they turn into cylinders. I am now certified as a visual cylinder inspector, which, in the words of Mark, “puts another feather in my hat.”

The last field trip we went on was probably my favorite and the most anticipated: the Duke Chambers. I had heard about how massive and impressive the chambers are, and seeing them in person was surreal. There are seven chambers in total, and they are all attached to each other in some way. We were able to go into most of the chambers, but one chamber had patients going through treatment, so we observed from outside. I had always thought chambers were just used for divers, so it was interesting to see non-divers with non-diving-related problems being treated in the chambers. The staff also shared the story about how and why the chamber was built. Its original purpose was for open-heart surgery, but by the time the chamber was finished, the heart-lung machine had been developed, making the chamber’s original purpose obsolete. As of today, there are 14 indications for hyperbaric treatment, so it was not built for nothing after all.

This week was full of new experiences, and I cannot wait to see where the rest of my time here takes me!


Hello! My name is Emily Hellmann, and I am this year’s Our world Underwater Scholarship Society Divers Alert Network (DAN) Diver Safety Education intern. A little background on me:

I am 22 years old and from Manassas, Virginia. I have been diving since I was 11, but I’ve been surrounded by the sport since I was little, as my dad is a scuba instructor trainer. Because of my diving experiences, I have always wanted to do something with the ocean in my future career. When I started college, I naturally picked marine biology as my major at Old Dominion University. But after a couple of math classes, I changed to Earth Science Education. It was bittersweet, because it was not what I originally wanted to do, but I would still be involved with the ocean. It was this past semester that I realized I was moving toward what I was meant to do. Watching kids get excited to learn about marine processes really hit it home. If I can get more young people excited about the ocean, then as they grow up, there will be more older people who care about the ocean.

The switch also led me to this AMAZING internship, which includes the best of both of my worlds: diving and education


Alex, Chloe, Yann, myself, and Burnley after completing our training!

My first week lined up with the visit of the Our World Underwater Scholarship Society’s North American Rolex Scholar, Yann Herrera. During this week, the DAN Research interns and myself were able to tag along with him to each department in DAN to hear about what they do. We met with the medics, researchers, the teams from membership, liability insurance, communication and marketing, plus IT, and so many more! It was very interesting to be able to meet all the people who make DAN work and to see just how important they are to the diving community.

Another great opportunity I had this week was to go through the Diving First Aid for Professional Divers (DFA Pro) course, taught by Patty Seery, DAN’s director of training. It was a very long but rewarding course. We practiced all skills in the course in a very hands-on manner, from neurological assessments and how to care for hazardous marine life injuries to CPR, first aid and, most importantly, emergency oxygen for scuba diving injuries. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot. It was a great course!

Reilley and Patty demonstrating two-person CPR

My “sea-urchin” injury

Yann with his “jellyfish” injury