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Associates History

The UHMS Associates
- A Historical Perspective -

The Origin

In 1967, six USN diving and submarine medical officers with the goal of promoting diving and undersea medicine founded the Undersea Medical Society.

In 1975 the UMS first recognized an essential body of personnel in this field, the Associates. For the first time ever, diver medics, research physiologists, EMTs, paramedics, hyperbaric technicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and students became eligible for the new category of Associate membership.

Over time, this medical society realized the validity of clinical hyperbaric medicine. In recognition of the dual interest by members in both diving and clinical applications, the society was renamed the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) in September 1986.

Associate Leadership

The UHMS Executive Committee still maintained administrative control by appointing an Associate Representative and limiting the term to one year. The process of recognition for the Associates was in place but it would still take a few more years to impress upon the Medical Society the value of the Associates role. Paul Baker was the first appointed Associates representative in 1987, followed by Jim Persels in 1988.

The Associate body was slowly growing and their voice was finally being heard. In 1989 the UHMS Executive Committee, under the direction of Dr. Richard Heimbach, approved the Associates to conduct their own election for a chair position to sit on the Executive Committee with full voting privileges and hold the position for two years. Associate membership increased to 565, as the first elected Chair was selected to represent the Associates.

Past Associate Chairs have included Dick Clarke1989, Paul Baker 1991, Delmer Shelton 1993, Sue Laney 1995, Jim McCarthy1997, Gregory Mann 1999, and Steve Wood 2001. Mike Crouch assumed the role in June 2003 followed by Kay McClue 2005, Kevan Corson 2007, and Dick Sample 2009.

Associate membership numbers over the years have remained about the same ranging from 550 to 815. Considering the increased awareness and growth in this industry our membership as Associates is not sufficiently representative. There remains much work to be done in this area to increase the awareness of the value of Associate membership and the opportunities that exist for such membership.

Mission Statement

The Associate's Mission Statement was established and today remains unchanged while paralleling that of the UHMS purpose statement.

The Mission is to provide a forum for communication among individuals involved in basic and applied studies concerned with life sciences and human factor aspects of the undersea environment and hyperbaric medicine. To promote cooperation between the life sciences and other disciplines concerned with undersea activity and hyperbaric medicine. To develop and promote educational activities and other programs which improve scientific knowledge of matters related to undersea and hyperbaric environments and the accepted applications of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the membership, as well as physicians and allied health professionals, divers, diver technicians, hyperbaric technologists and the public at large. 

National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology

While simultaneously establishing themselves as the Associate body within the UHMS, the early leadership was also reassessing the focus of the National Association of Diver Medical Technicians (NADMT). In 1989, under the presidency of Dick Clarke, a new name was established and it became the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology (NBDHMT), acknowledging the emergence of clinical hyperbaric medical technicians into the field of diving medicine.

A body of seven men made up the NBDHMT Executive Committee; Dick Clarke, Paul Baker, Jim Persels, Keith Van Meter, David Youngblood, Gordon Daughtery and Brian Foley. The new committee's focus was to develop a testing certification process whereby members would have access to gain recognition for their specialized skills. Candidates would have to show documentation of 40 hours of formal hyperbaric medicine training, maintain continued education, show proof of working in HBO for a minimum amount of time and have a letter of recommendation from their employer. These requirements were established to ensure a higher level of safety and competency of clinicians in hyperbaric medicine settings.

By June 1991, the first ever Certified Hyperbaric Technologist (CHT) examination was conducted at the UHMS annual meeting in San Diego, California with 45 candidates challenging the exam.

In 1995, Paul Baker became the next NBDHMT president and served through the end of 2008. Paul worked with his secretary Pauline Poletti for over 14 years growing the Board office in New Orleans, LA along with appointed directors from all over the US.

In 2009, Dick Clarke was reappointed to the seat of President when Paul decided to step down and Pauline retired for medical reasons; later in 2010 Pauline passed away from cancer. The Board office was moved to Columbia, SC. To date there have been well over 2000 applicants to successfully achieve CHT status. The website ( has become robust with monthly updates and position statements and the examination process completely revised.

Associate Awards

In 1997, the Associates established the Paul C. Baker Award. This award is presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting to an Associate member for outstanding contributions to the advancement of safety in hyperbaric medicine worldwide.The award was based on the many enduring contributions from Paul Baker. At the August 2004 Annual Meeting in Dallas, the board approved an increase to $1000.00 for this life achievement award.

Past Paul C. Baker Award recipients are Paul Baker 1997, Dick Clarke 1998, Jim McCarthy 1999, Brian Foley 2000, Sue DeSantis and Ken Rideout 2001, Jay Duchnick 2002, Robert Sheffield 2003, Christy Pirone June 2004 in Sydney and Kevin Corson August 2004 in Dallas. In 2005, Greg Raleigh in Las Vegas, 2006 Steve Wood in Orlando, 2007 Steve Fabus in Maui, 2008 in Salt Lake City was Terry Beard and Stacy Handley for 2009 in Las Vegas. In 2010, the Baker Award went to Richard Barry.

The Associates Award for Excellence in Presentation was created in 1999 to recognize outstanding Associates who participate in the Annual Scientific Meeting. Each Associate member who presents an abstract is evaluated by a team of judges who rate each presentation on a number of areas, including content, applicability to the profession, and quality of presentation.First place receives a plaque and check for $500. Second place receives a certificate.

Past recipients of Presentation Awards are Dawn Ray 1999, Sara Hasan 2000, Dick Sample 2001, Valerie Larson-Lohr 2002, Karen Swaby 2003, Rich Egan June 2004 in Sydney, Dick Sample August 2004 in Dallas and Doug Oberly August 2004 in Dallas. Las Vegas 2005 winners' were Karen Swaby andSteve Wood. In 2006,Dick Sample and Patti Loperwon in Orlando. In 2007, the Maui winners were Dick Sample and Terry Beard. In 2008 in Salt Lake City the winners were Seth McEwan and Claude Wreford-Brown. The 2009 presentation award winners were Kevin Kraft and Seth McEwan. At the St. Petersburg ASM in 2010 our winners were Kim Yerkes Simonson and Sherri Ferguson.

In 2008, an award was created and funded by Oxyheal for $1,000.00. It is intended to recognize the efforts of a nurse or technician that provides emergent and/or critical care to diving and hyperbaric medicine care to patients. Oxyheal agreed to fund the Ted Gurnee Award through 2012. There was no recipient in 2009. Jeff Mize was the 2010 recipient.

Associate Scholarship

In 2006, under the Associates Education Committee a scholarship was created and funded by the past donations of Associate members to support the educational needs of Associate members. The Associates Achievement Recognition Scholarship is comprised of $2000.00 in US funds awarded to support an Associate member in good standing to attend the next ASM in exchange for submitting and presenting an abstract.

Past recipients of the Scholarship include Hope Stack in 2007 and in 2008 Seth McEwan. No one was nominated for the scholarship in 2009. The nomination process was changed after the in 2009 ASM to simply be an application process for those individuals seeking financial support to be able to present at the ASM. Annette Gwilliam was the 2010 scholarship recipient.

Associate Reorganization

In 2008, The UHMS Board of Directors approved the Associates to appoint a UHMS Corporate Representative to the BOD with voting privileges. In addition to the Associates Chair, this dramatic change allowed for two voting Associate members on the panel of 11 voting UHMS Board of Directors and one Executive Director. That meant the Associates voice represented 18% of the UHMS. In 2009, Stacy Handley was selected as the first Associates Corporate Representative and incidentally the first Registered Nurse to be seated on the UHMS Board of Directors.

In 2010, the Associates Board of Directors proposed to their members a restructuring of their leadership and a name change to Associate Council. This Council would report up to the UHMS Board of Directors. The Associate membership voted to approve the proposal in August 2010.

The existing Associate's Chair position became a Co-Chair role shared by a Nurse Representative and a Technologist Representative. The Corporate Representative was likewise dissolved. Dick Sample became the first Technologist Representative and Stacy Handley became the first Nurse Representative, both seats holding voting rights on the UHMS Board of Directors. The newly approved Associate Council was comprised of seven seats; the Nurse and Technologist Representative with each having an additional ‘Past' and ‘Elect' seat. The Council also has a Secretary.

Our first election as the new Associate Council was completed in December 2010. Jeff Mize was voted onto the Associate Council as the first Technologist Elect and will assume the Technologist Representative role in June 2011, at which time Dick Sample will become the Past Technologist Representative and a new Technologist Elect will join the Council. Laura Josefsen became the first Nurse Elect to join the Council. The Nurse roles rotate in opposite years of the Technologist in order to maintain continuity on the UHMS BOD. The first elected Secretary was Sherrill White. The Secretary rotates with the Nurse elections.

In March 2011, the Council wrote their first position statement related to the CHT that was approved by the UHMS BOD. It was created to help clarify for the membership that the UHMS supports individuals becoming certified in hyperbaric medicine and that his or her scope of practice in the clinical setting must be determined by the qualifying vocation for which they applied to the NBDHMT in order to become certified. The position statement further states that the UHMS feels it is imperative for the CHT to maintain a qualifying vocation approved by the NBDHMT.

The UHMS Associates have evolved over the past three decades since our birth in 1975 to accommodate to the needs of its members. Thanks to the early pioneers who impressed upon the Executive Body of the UHMS that as Associates we complete the team in which we all work in. Acceptance of the Associates into the Medical Society happened over time and is continuing to progress. We now have a meaningful voice in the UHMS and our voice is growing. We have succeeded in fulfilling the mission by providing ongoing collaboration and education through cooperation between the life sciences.

Respectfully Submitted By:

Stacy Handley, BSN, ACHRN, CWCN, CHT
Nurse Representative

Updated March 2011