On Saturday 14th Janurary I accompanied 6 of our divers to Whipps Cross Hospital to undertake the Recompression Chamber Awareness Specialty.
After arriving early on Saturday, we were greeted by the chamber staff and invited to take a seat in the lecture room. The morning began with an introduction and safety briefing and we were informed about the possible risks and factors that would affect us when diving to 40m. We were briefed about what would happen in the chamber, and, after getting into our green medical scrubs and trying out oxygen masks, we were led into ‘the pot’.
We were told we would complete some simple tests when we got to 40m; dropping a little parachute man in the dense air to compare the time it took for him to land at 40m instead of normal atmospheric pressure. We had to blow up a balloon to watch it expand as we ascended, complete a few simple questions on a piece of paper and note the effects of pressure on our voices!
The short test, which we had 30 seconds to complete, asked us the following: name, draw a hexagon, join the dots, a few easy sums such as 11 x 11 and writing down the pressure at a given depth. The aim of the test was to assess our level of consciousness in relation to the effects of Nitrogen/Gas narcosis. As divers among you will know, Nitrogen/Gas narcosis affects us usually when we dive beyond 30m; however it is not uncommon to notice some symptoms much shallower than this. It can be described as a change in the level of consciousness in a given individual and can be likened to alcohol intoxication.
I don’t want to give away everything that happened while we were ‘underwater’! The tests we did were eye-opening for our students and really help divers appreciate their state of mind during a dive while not actually diving.
After the dive, we were given a presentation by Wayne, one of the chamber supervisors, to further explain narcosis, the chamber and medical treatments that the centre offers.
The trip was a great success; enjoyable and really informative. Let us know if you would like to join us for our next one! Photos of the event can be found on our Facebook page here.