Brief History of DCIEM Research
DCIEM is a major research establishment in Canada.
Its mission is to enhance the safety and effectiveness of Canadian Forces personnel in the way in which they interact with their equipment and the way in which they function in difficult environments.
Diving research conducted at DCIEM had its origins in 1939 when studies into pressure physiology were initiated for the Department of National Defence at the Banting and Best Institute in Toronto. In 1954, a laboratory was built at the present location of DCIEM in northwest Toronto, and in 1971, two research labs - the Defence Research Establishment Toronto (DRET) and the Canadian Forces Institute of Environmental Medicine (CFIEM) – were amalgamated to form the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine (DCIEM).
Over the years, DCIEM has achieved international recognition for excellence in diving, aerospace and other areas of research. The Experimental Diving Unit (EDU) at DCIEM is part of the Biosciences Division. The objective of EDU is to improve the safety and efficiency of CF diving operations. This is accomplished by evaluating and improving existing diving life support equipment, by developing new diving equipment, and by conducting ongoing research in diving physiology.
To accomplish these goals, EDU has the following facilities:
The Diving Research Facility (DRF) is one of the most advanced systems in the world. It is a full saturation complex with a maximum operational depth limit of 5,600 feet. The DRF can support over 20 divers on breathing systems at one time, and has a water-filled compartment to allow in-water testing of divers and diving equipment.
The Diving Training Facility (DTF) is a three chamber complex (one flooded) with a maximum operational depth limit of 330 feet. In addition, EDU has a two compartment chamber for unmanned testing and a smaller chamber used solely for equipment testing.
A portable two man chamber is also stored at DCIEM. It can be flown to any location and is capable of conducting a full treatment table for decompression sickness or arterial gas embolism. This portable chamber is designed for use on major diving expeditions in remote areas.
In the 1960's and 1970's, DCIEM was internationally recognized for its development of decompression computers. Since the late 1970's, DCIEM has been prominent in the development and use of Doppler monitoring in diving research. Doppler monitoring is now considered mandatory for decompression table/model development.
Major diving projects conducted at DCIEM include development of the DCIEM standard air diving tables, recreational diving tables (1990, 1994, 1995), a semi-closed circuit nitrox diving system for use to 55m (CCDA or SIVA 55), a semi-closed circuit heliox diving set for use to 80m (CUMA or SIVA+), heliox decompression tables (1991), drysuit and regulator trials, and publication of the DCIEM Diving Manual (1992). More recent projects include development of heliox decompression tables for use with CUMA, supplemental diver heating systems, contaminated water diving, regulator testing, development of a cold water regulator and other technical projects.
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