Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hyperbaric Chambers on Koh Samui

Hyperbaric Chambers on Koh Samui.

You may be surprised to hear that there is actually more than one Hyperbaric Chamber on Koh Samui.

The best known one is probably the SSS Hyperbaric Chamber, located in Bang Rak, conveniently close to all the piers on Samui. However, before you're admitted to hyperbaric treatment (recompression rather than decompression, you're most likely decompressed when admitted!) you'll first have to visit one of the hospitals on Samui that have a dive medical trained physician on staff, who will determine if you need treatment.
The SSS chamber has a multi person chamber, that can hold up to 2 patients and one tender at a time.

Bangkok Samui Hospital also has a hyperbaric chamber. They have a so called mono chamber, where the patient is located alone in a see through container. See the picture on the link.



The Chamber in Samui is fairly busy at the moment, in a way unfortunately, but on the other hand, it's a great thing that there actually is a chamber, that can treat dive injuries.
A couple of years ago I participated in the second ever tender/operator course that was held at the Chamber and I ended up being a tender for a few patients during their treatment.


A look at the controls of the Bang Rak chamber
A tender is in the Chamber with the patient(s) to make sure that the patient is convenient during treatment and he or she can make sure that in case of complications, somebody is at hand to deal with the complications. Such complications can be an Oxygen Toxicity hit amongst others.
During the last two weeks I've been asked twice by the Chamber to tend again, since they were so busy and most likely were running out of available tenders!
The first treatment was with a diver who developed DCS 1 (Decompression Sickness) symptoms, a red rash on her stomach. She was treated with a US Navy table 6, the most common used treatment table for dive injuries. This treatment lasts almost 6 hours. Here's the official US Navy explanation of their Tables.
The second treatment was for a diver who had middle ear problems and consequently experienced balance problems, he was treated with a US Navy Table 5. This treatment lasted 2 and a half hours.

During the treatment the patients can choose to watch DVD's, to shorten the time.
Hyperbaric treatment is well known for its use in underwater diving accidents, but it also has beneficial healing effects in other conditions:
-Carbon monoxide poisoning
-Gas gangrene
-Bone infection
-Non-healing wounds
When I teach one of my Emergency First Response Instructor or DAN Oxygen courses, I use the upstairs classroom at the Chamber facility in Bang Rak and we normally end the day with a short tour of the Chamber.
This short tour of the Chamber is very much appreciated by the participants of my courses and in my opinion it's a great tool to make divers better aware of what the Chamber actually does or can do for you in case that you need it, thus lowering the 'fear' factor of divers towards Chambers in general.
If you're in Samui, feel free to contact the Chamber for a free tour, after you make an appointment.

Treatment is rather expensive, at 800,- USD per hour. Considering that a US Navy Table 6 lasts almost 6 hours (5 hours and 45 minutes to be precise), it adds up quickly.
Therefor I can only highly recommend Divers Alert Network insurance packages for all divers. They cover Hyperbaric treatment.


There's a lot of good and interesting literature out and about about Hyperbaric treatment, I can strongly suggest to Google this word combination and you may be surprised what comes up.
During my diving career that spans 13 years this coming 19th October, I've seen a few dive accidents happen which made me reconsider my own dive profiles and become a conservative diver. The amazing fact is that almost 80% of divers that suffer any form of Decompression Sickness or Decompression Illness dive well within established Dive Table limits!
Here's a very interesting DCS quiz with other very useful DCS related links.
Hope you enjoyed the article.
Camille

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