When diving on our own without the use of a charter operator, we sometimes do not do enough research on our own, if any at all, to find out what we need to do, who to call or where to go if an accident happens that may require a hyperbaric chamber…or a recompression chamber.
Most areas that are known for their scuba diving have a chamber nearby…others are far more remote. Diving operators that take passengers out are usually well informed of the emergency procedures in case of an accident but divers that go out on their own without a licensed operator may want to find out where the closest facility is to their dive site and what is the best way to communicate and coordinate with them in a situation that may require recompression.
According to the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS) there are over 4500 hyperbaric chambers in operation with approximately 700 of those in the North American region including the Caribbean. Divers Alert Network (DAN) has approximately 160 of these chambers as a network of referral facilities.
It is always a good idea to look up the chamber’s info before you plan your dive…even if you were there just last year. The reason? Many of the chambers are closing their doors due to lack of funds or lack of business while others have withdrawn their 24-hour availability as it is difficult to staff them with people that are indeed capable of diagnosis and chamber operation around the clock.
Many locations also have “chamber fees”. If you pay the fee, you may have little to no issue getting treated…if you choose to not pay for it, the chances of you not getting treated are still very low, but you may be faced with some outlandish fees at the time of treatment. Remember, it is always good to assist the local chambers and the fees, whether you feel you may need them or not, assist keeping the chambers operational.
So please, before going for a dive, find out what is available to you by doing a little research first. You could probably contact DAN or do a Google search in your area followed up by a phone call.
As always, be safe…
Contact SDI TDI and ERDI
If you would like more information, please contact our World Headquarters or your Regional Office.