Legends of Diving Articles

 

Dr. R.W. Hamilton
Breathing Gases, Gas Tables
and effects of Pressure


Dr RW Hamilton

Hamilton became involved with Capt. Billy Deans, from Key West, who had been doing deep dives for years and wanted a better and safer way to do it. Dr. Hamilton became friends with Billy and they created the first open ocean trimix diving program. This was the creation of the Key West Consortium, a group of divers that hired Hamilton Research LTD. Hamilton went on to create a universal set of trimix decompression tables for use during open ocean dives. This opened up access to deeper wrecks the world over. The success of these tables after thousands and thousands of dives, led Dr. Hamilton to develop trimix tables for NOAA for use on the USS Monitor research projects.

In addition to numerous scientific and technical papers, reports, and workshops, Dr. Hamilton authored a major article on life support in the Encyclopedia Britannica and contributed chapters to the UHMS'a Underwater Handbook, the Physician's Guide to Diving Medicine, the UHMS Key Documents series, a chapter on mixed gases and Bove's Diving Medicine, and with a co-author did a chapter on decompression practice for the fifth edition of Bennett and Elliott's Diving Physiology and Medicine. He wrote a comprehensive chapter on "pressure as a toxic agent" in Patty's industrial hygiene collection.

Dr. Hamilton served as chairman of the board of directors of DAN (Divers Alert Network) and served on its decompression advisory board. He helped guide this important organization through a major transition. He also served as a charter member and former officer of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society.

Dr. Hamilton was a chief contributor to Aqua Corp's 1992 Nitrox Workshop in Houston, Texas which helped to put NITROX and mixed gases into the reach of recreational divers. He went on to write Nitrox training manuals and programs for many of the certification agencies. He worked with many of the manufacturers on their dive computers and was a regular advisor to the US Navy regarding decompression and decompression illness and treatment.


Dr RW Hamilton

Dr. Hamilton always had time to answer questions and was just a phone call away, volunteering his time whenever he could. He was known and respected internationally and was always in demand on the speaking and workshop circuit. Always by his side was his devoted wife, "Ruby Red Lips." Bill was a perfectionist and held himself and those around him to extremely high standards. At conferences, it wasn't unusual for Bill to disappear for a short power nap, and then be found working feverishly on a laptop or writing some formula on a napkin. His mind never stopped.

Hamilton's sense of humor was legendary; when asked by Capt. Kathy A. Weydig which approach to decompression was the best theory, he replied dryly, "It's better to do something, than not." Dr. Joe Macinnis stated, "Bill was one of those daring men who explored the physiological limits of the human body." Bill had an ability to examine and explore ways of making something and was certainly larger than life, according to friends, family, and colleagues alike. Dr. R.W. Hamilton died unexpectedly of cancer on September 16, 2011. The loss to the diving community is great; his friends, family, and admirers will miss him greatly. The contributions he made to the world of diving are incomparable and mark him as a true Legend of Diving.

(ILD would like to thank Sally Hamilton, Glenn Butler CEO Life Systems, for his photos and memories. Rubicon Foundation, Joel Silverstein, Michael Menudo.)

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