CUHMA Awards History
CUHMA has three main awards. These awards were inaugurated in 2011 and 2012 when this organization was first formed as the Canadian Chapter of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society and are specifically for contributions in or to Canada. As a purely Canadian organization now, we want to recognize those working in and contributing to Canada in the fields of hyperbaric/diving medicine, safety, and research and science.
Awards need not be given out every year.
Ken LeDez, presenting the first Michael Lepawsky Award to Michael Lepawsky, October 20, 2011, with George Harpur and Ron Nishi
Dr. Michael Lepawsky (1937-2014)
The first recipient of the award for physicians was Dr. Michael Lepawsky, for whom the award is named, “in recognition of his outstanding contribution towards the development and advancement of Hyperbaric and Diving Medicine in Canada” and was presented to him during the second annual meeting of the Canadian Chapter of the UHMS held in Vancouver in 2011. Mike received his BA from Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin, and did military service from 1961-63 at the United States Army Medical Research and Nutrition Laboratory at the Fitzsimons General Hospital in Denver, Colorado. He received his MD from the University of Chicago School of Medicine in 1966 and was a Graduate-Intern from 1966-67 and a resident from 1967-68 at the Vancouver General Hospital in the Department of Family Medicine. In 1978, he became the VGH Hyperbaric Unit Medical Director and from 1992 to 2003, was Head of the VGH Division of Hyperbaric Medicine. He took the Undersea Medical Society-University of Hawaii Dive Medicine Course in 1974, the Diving Medical Officer’s Course from the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine (DCIEM) in 1975, the UMS Advanced Diving Medicine Course in 1977, and Hyperbaric Oxygen and Hyperbaric Medicine Courses from Long Beach Memorial Hospital Medical Center, Irvine, CA in 1976, 1979, and 1980. He received his certification from the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology as a Certified Hyperbaric Technologist (CHT) in 1991.
He became a certified diver in 1970 and had Diving and Diving Instructor Certifications from the National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI), Association of Canadian Underwater Councils, Confederation Mondiale des Activities Subaquatiques (CMAS, World Underwater Federation), and ACUC. He was a medical consultant/advisor to NAUI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD), and also a medical consultant for Diver Magazine. He served on the Board of Directors and the Safety Committee of the Underwater Council of British Columbia (UCBC).
Besides being the VGH Senior Consultant in Hyperbaric and Diving Medicine, he was also a Consultant in Hyperbaric Medicine to the BC Cancer Control Agency, Consultant in Hyperbaric Medicine, Commercial Diving, Caisson and Compressed Gas Work for BC Workers’ Compensation Board (WorkSafe BC), consultant and expert medical witness in compressed gas and diving accidents for the BC Coroner’s Office, consultant to Can-Dive Services, Ltd of North Vancouver, and RCMP designated Diving Medical Examiner. He was a Health and Safety Accident Research Investigator for the BC Safety Council Underwater Division and an Approved Diving and Emergency Medical Specialist for the Canadian Oil and Gas Lands Administration. He was a member of the Canadian Standards Association Hyperbaric, Caisson, Compressed Gas and Diving Systems Committees and was a commercial diver candidate medical examiner for the Seneca College Underwater Skills Program. He was a member of the Canadian Association of Diving Contractors. In addition, he held university appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of BC Faculty of Medicine and Adjunct Professor at the Simon Fraser University School of Kinesiology.
Mike was a Life Member of the UHMS (a member since 1977) and served as the Vice-President from 1992-93 and Secretary from 1995-96. He was also on the UHMS Hyperbaric Oxygen Committee for over 20 years. In addition, he was a long-time member of the UHMS Pacific Chapter, was Treasurer (1988-89) and President (1990-91), and served on the Program Committee or was Program Chair of the Annual Scientific Meeting for many years.
He received an award from NAUI in 1974, the NAUI Special Recognition for Service to the Diving Community in 1979, the Canadian Diving Achievement Award for Service to the Diving Community from Underwater Canada in 1987, the Canadian Red Cross Society honour of Distinguished Citizen and Humanitarian in 1988 and 1991, and the Third Ocean Pioneer Award from the Underwater Council of BC in 2004. In 2009, he received the Lucia R. Briggs Distinguished Life Achievement Award from the Lawrence University Alumni Association in Wisconsin, for his work as medical director of the Hyperbaric Unit at the Vancouver General Hospital, where he “helped to develop a state-of-the art hyperbaric chamber for patients requiring hyperbaric oxygen therapy, setting the benchmark for hyperbaric medicine in North America. For more than 30 years, Lepawsky worked with the diving community to improve safety, creating a guide that established standards and protocols for those training for underwater diving.”
The “Dr. Michael Lepawsky Graduate Student Award in Hyperbaric Medicine” was established at Simon Fraser University in 2015 by his family in his honour.
Ron Linden, presenting the first Ron Nishi Award to Ron Nishi, October 17, 2012
The first recipient of the award for “Research and Science related to Diving and Diving Safety” is Ron Nishi, formerly a Defence Scientist with Defence Research & Development Canada – Toronto (DRDC Toronto). Ron obtained a Bachelor and Master of Applied Science in Engineering Physics from the University of British Columbia in 1960 and 1962, respectively. In 1962, he joined the Defence Research Board, working first at the Naval Research Establishment (now DRDC Atlantic) in Dartmouth, NS, on sonar and underwater acoustics projects. In 1969, he transferred to the Physics Section of the Defence Research Establishment Toronto (later Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine (DCIEM) and DRDC Toronto) working under Roy Stubbs, a former Royal Canadian Air Force Scientist who with D.J. Kidd, a Royal Canadian Navy physician, had developed the first practical multi-compartment decompression computer in the 1960s. After Stubbs retirement, Ron took over the decompression computer program and he and his team, working with Canadian industry, developed a series of digital microprocessor-controlled decompression computers in the 1970s. Ron’s other main project was the detection of decompression-generated bubbles in divers using ultrasonics. In 1983, he adapted and modified the mathematical model underlying the Kidd-Stubbs computer to develop new air diving tables for Canadian Forces diving. These tables, made available to the public as the DCIEM Air Diving Tables are in wide-spread use, not only in Canada for occupational diving but also in other countries and other Navies. The DCIEM Sport Diving Tables, adapted for recreational diving, are also in wide use in many countries. Ron has also been responsible for the development of all other diving tables currently in use by the Canadian Forces. He has also worked with US Navy scientists on probabilistic models of decompression, conducted research on the risk of submarine escape from Canadian Navy submarines and testing of decompression procedures for astronauts performing extra-vehicular activities for the Canadian Space Agency and NASA.
From 1975-85, he was the Head of the Biotechnology Group in the Biosciences Division, and from 1985-1991, he was the Head of the Diving Research and Development Group of the Experimental Diving Unit. From 1992 to his retirement in 2006 from DRDC Toronto, he was the Senior Scientist in the Experimental Diving Unit. After retirement, he continued as a part-time consultant for Canadian Forces decompression tables, dive procedures, and experimental diving. He developed the oxygen requirements for Canadian Forces treatment table attendants.
Ron is a member of the Canadian Standards Association subcommittee on work in compressed air, a past member of the American Acoustical Society, and was the Member for the Canadian Space Agency on the International Space Station Multilateral Medical Operations Panel EVA Working Subgroup. He is a Professional Engineer (retired), registered in the Province of Ontario. He is an Emeritus Member of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, having joined the then Undersea Medical Society as a member in 1974, and was a founding member of the Great Lakes Chapter of the UHMS, serving as Vice-president, President, and Executive Secretary. Since the dissolution of the GLC in 2010, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Chapter of the UHMS and CUHMA.
He has received a number of awards for his work, among them the NAUI Special Recognition for Service to the Diving Community in 1991, the Albert Behnke Jr. Award from the UHMS in 1998, the DAN Asia-Pacific Contribution to Dive Safety Award in 2012, and the Technical Excellence Award in 2014 from the Divers Certification Board of Canada.
Jim Wilson with the first James H. Wilson Award, with Ron Linden and Bill Bateman, October 15, 2011.
James H. (Tug) Wilson (1927-2015)
The first recipient of the award for Associate Members, “The James H. Wilson Award for outstanding technical contributions by an Associate Member”, which is named in his honour, was Jim Wilson. Jim joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1942 and served in convoy duty in the North Atlantic during World War II. He qualified as a naval diver in 1948 and after returning from the Korean War after service on the destroyer, HMCS Haida, he transferred to the newly-established Clearance Diving Branch. In 1954, he received his qualification in Deep Diving with the US Navy. He was promoted to Chief Petty Officer First Class in 1961 and was the first Chief Diver of the Canadian Diving Trials and Development Unit in Toronto (later to become the Experimental Diving Unit at the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine (DCIEM, now Defence R&D Canada Toronto Research Centre)). During this time, he was also a consultant on the installation of a hyperbaric chamber at the Toronto General Hospital (TGH) and arranged for the use of the chamber for experimental diving research. He also participated in many deep experimental dives as a dive subject for D.J. Kidd and R.A. Stubbs, who were developing a multi-compartment pneumatic-analogue decompression computer for naval diving. In 1964, he was offered the position of Manager and Safety Director of the TGH Hyperbaric Facility and retired from the Navy. During his career with TGH, he was instrumental in the continued improvement of the hyperbaric department and equipment and his enthusiasm and expertise led the hospital to be regarded as the leading hyperbaric treatment center in Canada. After his retirement in 1991, he continued to work as a controller for the hyperbaric unit and remained as the Safety Director until 2005. In addition, he had his own hyperbaric consulting company and ran a Basic Diving Medicine Course.
His involvement with the UHMS goes back many years. He was the first Associate Member in Canada and served as a member of the Safety Committee until recently. He was involved with the organization and implementation of the Certified Hyperbaric Technology program for the National Board of Diving and Hyperbaric Medical Technology. He joined the Great Lakes Chapter of the UHMS soon after its formation in 1980 and for 30 years was involved with the Executive Committee or on the planning committee of the annual scientific meetings of the Chapter. He served as President twice and as Secretary-Treasurer for many years.
Jim was the longest serving member of the Canadian Standards Association’s Technical Committee on Diving and its different subcommittees, having been a member since its inception, providing significant input and support in the development of the various Canadian Standards. These included the Occupational Safety Code for Diving Operations, the Hyperbaric Standard (as chairman of the Hyperbaric Subcommittee), the Competency and Training Standards for Diving Operations, and the Standard for Construction Work in Compressed Air. In addition to his work with CSA, he served on the Commercial Diving Joint Labour Management Committee of the Construction Safety Association of Ontario. He was directly involved in the creation of the Diver Certification Board of Canada and was one of the original directors. He was on the first advisory committee for the Seneca College Underwater Skills Program, serving as a member for over 35 years. He was also the Executive-Director of the Canadian Association of Diving Contractors. In 2008, Jim received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Diver Certification Board of Canada.
The presentation to Jim, in “recognition of his 45+ years of significant and outstanding contributions toward Diving and Hyperbaric Safety in Canada”, was made on October 15th, 2011 at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto, Ontario, with a video of the presentation being shown at the Annual Meeting on October 21st.
Dr. Michael Lepawsky Award
Presented to a Physician demonstrating Leadership and Excellence in Hyperbaric Medicine in Canada.
Ron Nishi Award
For Outstanding Contribution to Research and Science related to Diving and Diving Safety.
James H. (Tug) Wilson Award
For Outstanding Technical Contribution by an Associate Member