San Pedro’s Hyperbaric Chamber opens its service to all dive guides

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Since 1989 Sub-Aquatic Safety Service (SSS) Network has been operating the only recompression chamber for divers in Belize. The recompression chamber that is owned by Sub-aquatic Safety of Belize Limited is essential to the diving industry since it provides all the necessary resources to treat diving accidents. The purpose of the chamber is to allow divers to readjust to normal atmospheric pressure after resurfacing from a dive. When divers surface from great depths too quick their body does not have time to readjust to normal atmospheric pressure and this can cause various pressure-related complications, such as oxygen toxicity and decompression sickness.

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In a meeting with tour operators on Tuesday May 28th, it was revealed that services of the recompression chamber will now be offered to all dive operators of San Pedro Town in the case of a dive accident, regardless of their insurance coverage. The service is being given to all tour operators working with a dive shop associated with SSS Network. In order to access this service the tour operators must register with SSS Network; upon registration they will receive a member card that will identify the diver as eligible to receive full services of the recompression chamber and treatment.

According to Paul Moreno, Regional Supervisor of the SSS Recompression Chamber, the purpose of this proposal is to ensure the safety of Belize’s dive operators. “We are offering the tour guides operating out of San Pedro and eventually Belize the added benefit to be covered by our chamber facility in case of an accident, regardless of their primary or secondary insurance. So the added benefit is that any diver, out with an affiliated operator who ended up getting sick in the water can come to us and receive a full treatment, free of charge,” stated Moreno in an interview with The San Pedro Sun.

SSS Network provides its service mostly to professional divers that come to Belize to participate in sports diving. Previously SSS Network encouraged divers to have an insurance policy that covered decompression treatment. This insurance can be rather costly here in Belize, so many of our local divers were not eligible to receive this coverage. “In the past, we encouraged dive shops to push their divers to have the added insurance. We now understand that it might have been an unnecessary burden on the dive guides, especially given the fact that they do most of their dives here in Ambergris Caye. Because we are the only providers here in Belize, it is an extra service and so we will take care of the divers,” said Moreno.

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This new bond that is being formed between the recompression chamber and dive guides is extremely important to strengthen diving in Belize. “The divers need to have the security that if anything happens while in the water, the first priority for the guides is to take care of their clients. Guides have some risk they need to have the peace of mind that if they get sick there is a recompression facility here that will treat them,” stated Moreno.
As part of the outreach and education campaign, the chamber will also be providing courses and seminars to educate dive guides on diving medicine. The skills taught will be beneficial in strengthening the diving community. To obtain further information on the chamber or to register, visit the SSS Recompression Chamber located in font of Maya Island Air or call 226-2851/226-3195.

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