Dick Rutkowski

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Dick Rutkowski would have a legitimate claim to the title of 'father of technical diving' (although he has never advanced such a claim himself).  Dick Rutkowski was a pioneer in the fields of hyperbaric medicine, diving medicine and diver training.  A long time servant of NOAA, Mr Rutkowski served at several levels, including as Director of Diver Training and Director of Hyperbaric Diver Treatment and Undersea Life Support Systems at NOAA from 1965 until 1985, eventually becoming NOAA's Deputy Diving Coordinator.

Amongst divers, Dick Rutkowski is best remembered for his work on breathing gases.

He was the founder of International Association of Nitrox Divers (which would later become the International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers (IANTD)), the first true recreational technical diver training organisation in the modern sense.  He also later went on to found Hyperbarics International, Inc.

It is impossible to estimate how many divers' lives may have been saved by Dick Rutkowski's work.  He was instrumental in teaching the importance of oxygen use on-site by non-professionals in diving accidents.  He wrote the first diving accident manual, which would later form the basis of the modern standard manual used by the Divers Alert Network.

Dick Rutkowski was at the forefront of the controversy relating to the resistance of mainstream diver certification agencies to the use of nitrox in the 1980s and early 90s. During the course of that debate, Rutkowski was reported to have given his most memorable quote: "Science always wins over bullshit."  A former NOAA aquanaut, he has received more than 60 awards, including having a glacier named after him in Antarctica.

Although he may not have descended to record breaking depths, discovered lost shipwrecks or found the ends of deep caves, it was through his work that all of those things became safer for others to do.