Hyperbaric chamber holds informational training for divers
Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
The Hyperbaric Chamber adjacent to the Ambergris Caye Hope Clinic conducted a chamber operating training from Monday, September 21st to Friday, September 25th for local divers. Dive personnel from different dive shops on the island were taught about the operations of the Hyperbaric Chamber, where divers are treated for dive related injuries. At the training, participants learned mainly about the physics of hyperbaric chamber pressure changes and how it affects the body in certain air spaces such as the lungs and ears. This type of training will equip the local diving experts with the knowledge necessary when encountering issues with decompression sicknesses from their clients.
Conducting the training was Roger Garcia, who is a certified Hyperbaric technician from Florida, USA. “This is the second time I am here conducting this type of training. We went over the treatment of complications known as arterial gas embolism, decompression sickness, embolism and as well as to distinguish decompression type 1 and type 2. In the first one, the patient will normally just feel pain in the joints and elbows, while in type 2 it involves pain but follow by numbness, and rashes around the body. In situations like this, before the patient is brought into the chamber, we administer 100% oxygen. In the training I also showed them how to use the different systems in the recompression chamber, such as the air system, the oxygen system, the suppression system, and as well how these systems are supposed to happen, and most importantly how you take the patient from the front door into the chamber and perform the treatments,” said Garcia. The training involved theory and practical classes and had satisfactory results according to Garcia.
Operations Manager Abner Bacab indicated that this initiative of having these training sessions will really prepare local divers with the skills to operate the chamber. However, it will be a process, as there is a lot of information to be learned. “We keep moving on with trainings like this so we have more qualified people to operate the facilities, and the stress is not just on one or two persons,” said Bacab. He encouraged the local tour operators to always find out if their clients have insurance and if not, to offer them that service. “The treatment is very expensive; usually it ranges from $700 to $1,000 US dollars per hour and normally, to stabilize a patient, he needs to be in the chamber for around five to six hours. We also think about the dive masters’ and instructors’ safety, there is a type of insurance for them which lasts for the whole year and it includes the chamber and evacuation expenses. It is not really called insurance, it’s called “dive accident coverage” and it comes at a cost of $218BZ for the whole year,” stated Bacab. The special insurance/dive accident coverage offered to diving personnel came through collaboration with DAN (Divers Alert Network), which is an organization that helps divers in need of medical emergency assistance and promotes dive safety through research, education, products and services.
The chamber is located next to Ambergris Hopes Clinic, which makes it easier to treat patients, since Dr. Daniel Gonzalez is one of the only certified doctors in diving medicine in the country. He can assist in diagnosing whether someone needs to go into the chamber or not, as he has been involved in the diving medicine for a long time.
It is recommend that before a diving trip, divers are well hydrated and get enough rest prior to the diving activity. These are only a few suggestions in order to prevent any decompression illnesses. In times of emergencies, the first point of contact suggested DAN’s hotline which is +1-919-648-9111 which will provide the appropriate information and advice on what to do, and alert the personnel at the chamber for a quick response. For emergencies, the Hyperbaric chamber in San Pedro can be contacted directly at 226-2660.
Since the hyperbaric chamber at Ambergris Hopes Clinic began operating back in May, the facility has treated over ten cases of decompression type one and two in a successful manner.
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