Peter Bennett, researcher, entrepreneur and founder of the Divers Alert Network DAN, passed away this past week at the age of 91.
Peter Bennett was a passionate researcher and entrepreneur who founded the Divers Alert Network DAN in 1980. He personally led DAN for the next 23 years and contributed significantly to what the organization is today.
Peter Bennett was born on June 12, 1931 in Portsmouth, England. He studied chemistry and biology at the University of London, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1951. He then continued his development and began working at the Royal Navy Physiological Laboratory. He earned a PhD in physiology and biochemistry from the University of Southampton in 1964.
He was very passionate about diving, and especially about diving medicine and physiology. In 1967 he was among the founding members of the Undersea Medical Society. He served as president of the society from 1975-76, in turn serving as editor of the society’s published journal from 1976-79. In turn, he has served as executive director since 2007.
Since 1972, he has lived in the US, where he was first deputy director and later director of the hyperbaric center at the F.G. Hall Laboratory at the prestigious Duke University in North Carolina. In 1980, Bennett submitted a grant application to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The goal was to fund a special phone line for divers injured in accidents. As you’ve already guessed, the idea metamorphosed and grew into what we all know today as the Divers Alert Network DAN.
In founding DAN, Dr. Bennett accomplished something truly remarkable. It is because of his vision and actions that divers around the world now have the support of an organization that is ready to help in the event of an emergency. Dr. Bennett’s inquisitive mind and drive have been gifts to divers around the world – DAN President and CEO Bill Ziefle said.
Peter Bennett dedicated his life to the advancement of diving. Few can match his achievements as a researcher, organizer and leader in diving medicine. He will remain a profound inspiration to all those working in this vital field. He displayed an infectious, pioneering spirit with which he won over experts and colleagues around the world who routinely accomplished the impossible. He was a great mentor and friend who will be truly missed – DAN medical director Jim Chimiak said.
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