By McClean Hobson
As a Coast Guard Officer, I cannot count the number of times we had to transport local divers suffering from the “bends ” or decompression sickness developed while diving for treatment in the decompression chambers in Saba. Some of these divers most of whom I know personally literally died before, during and after treatment while others such as my good friend Philbert Hanley a.k.a “Butt’ of Ponds Pasture developed permanent injuries and cannot work again in life.
Today, I am extremely pleased to say that we are now in a position to treat local scuba divers suffering from the bends right here in St.Kitts at no cost to them. In fact, Geron Buchanan and Mervin Maynard, two of our local scuba divers were the first to benefit from top class treatment delivered at the decompression chambers of CDA Technical Institute of the West Indies located temporarily at the C.A Paul Industrial Site after they were both referred to the dive school for treatment by the J.N.F Hospital.
It is my understanding that having completed diving beyond 100 feet in one case and 120 feet in another, both divers exhibited symptoms of decompression sickness (DCS) and were placed in the decompression chambers where they were treated and handed back over to the J.NF Hospital. According to the Dive Medical Officer (DMO) at the school “lack of immediate treatment to both divers could result in permanent injuries or death”
The establishment of CDA Technical Institute of the West Indies in St.Kitts came at the right time and is truly saving lives before our eyes.
The bends, also known as decompression sickness (DCS) or Caisson disease occurs in scuba divers or high altitude or aerospace events when dissolved gasses mainly nitrogen come out of solution in bubbles and can affect just about any body area including joints, lungs, heart, skin and brain.