Interior of the chamber

National Hyperbarics

Exterior of the hyperbaric chamber
Exterior of the hyperbaric chamber

Clare and I took a tour of the National Hyperbarics facility at Kingsbury Hospital earlier this year. This is a specialised clinical hyperbarics facility, where they use a recompression chamber to treat diving injuries as well as to provide wound care. Breathing oxygen at an elevated pressure (higher than atmospheric pressure) is beneficial to healing of wounds, and also part of the first aid for decompression sickness.

In contrast to the chamber we did our chamber dive in at UCT, the National Hyperbarics chamber is for medical purposes. It’s equipped with comfortable seats for eight patients, and oxygen masks and monitoring equipment for each patient. It’s rated to 30 metres so actually wouldn’t provide a very exciting chamber dive experience despite the creature comforts!

Interior of the chamber
Interior of the chamber

The team at National Hyperbarics are almost all (I think) scuba divers, and on occasion I have referred my students to them for assessment before signing up for a dive course. In addition to providing and monitoring hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the doctors are able to advise and prescribe treatment for divers with asthma and other concerns which may require medical clearance before getting in the water.

Control panel for the hyperbaric chamber
Control panel for the hyperbaric chamber

In the event that you have a diving accident in Cape Town, this is probably the chamber you’ll end up in. If you’re a DAN member (which you should be), DAN will arrange transfer to National Hyperbarics for you. If you’re not, you’ll have to contact them yourself to arrange for a medical technician to meet you at their Claremont facility should you require recompression treatment. So if you aren’t a member of DAN, visit the National Hyperbarics website immediately and save their contact number in your cellphone.

Update (February 2012): National Hyperbarics is moving from Claremont to Tokai. Their new facility is currently not open, so you can’t use their chamber in the event of an accident. Dive safely!

Update (March 2014): It doesn’t look as though National Hyperbarics is going to open for business again. If you’re concerned about which hyperbaric chamber you’ll go to if you have a diving accident in Cape Town, read this post.

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Tony

Scuba diver, teacher, gadget man, racing driver, boat skipper, photographer, and collector of stray animals

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