Subsequent to the annual maintenance of the hyperbaric facility at Fort Bay on Saba in early November, a team from Diver’s Alert Network (DAN) visited the island December 1-8, to evaluate the status of the chamber and train the dedicated volunteers under their Recompression Chamber Assistance Programme (RCAP).
Saba’s facility is a longtime member of DAN’s international chamber network. The team consisted of DAN’s Director of Medical Programmes Dr. Matias Nochetto, Diving Emergency Hotline Specialist Marty McCafferty and Certified Chamber Specialist Eric Schinazi. At the end of the five-day course, four staff members and one board member of the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF) were certified as DAN chamber attendants and operators.
Additionally, Dr. Nochetto met with all three island physicians and 12 nurses of the Saba Healthcare Centre, to educate them in the treatment of scuba divers suffering from decompression sickness commonly known as “the bends,” and other diving-related injuries.
A real-case scenario occurred in the early afternoon of Sunday, December 6. An Australian diver visiting from St. Maarten fell seriously ill after a deep dive at Shark Shoal. After examination by a physician and upon consultation with Dr. Nochetto, the diver was transported to the hyperbaric chamber where he was treated successfully and released from medical care after five hours.
Overall, the DAN team was impressed with the functioning of the chamber and the handling of the case by the volunteers who independently drove the chamber and attended to the patient during the treatment.
Nonetheless, as a last step towards full operational status Saba needs to establish a new administrative body for the facility.
The visit by the DAN team was made possible through generous support from Saba Island Properties, Haiku House, SCF, Sea Saba, Saba Deep, Scout’s Place, Tropics Café and Queen’s Gardens Resort.
The Daily Herald.