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Navigating Thermal Protection in Diving


Chamber Diaries
Chamber Diaries

As we are heading into the autumn, topside is starting to cool off, but the underwater world remains warm – for now! Thermal protection is a given in UK waters and we must consider the impact it will have on our decompression profiles.

The scuba diving industry has come on leaps and bounds where base layers and drysuits are concerned. Good quality base layers don’t come cheap, but they are worth their weight in gold in a time of need.

Heated vests have become more accessible, but how many divers own one? Do you have it switched on the whole dive? Decompression phase? Or just when you got cold? Dr Neal Pollock did a study on thermal protection in recent years and it’s well worth taking the time to read it.

So, you may be asking why is this relevant to a hyperbaric chamber?

Firstly, we see DCI cases where the cold has potentially been one of the contributing factors.

Secondly, if the diver is in a bit of trouble and needs to be transported by an ambulance there may not have been enough time to get the diver out of their drysuit and thermal layers.

When the back doors of the ambulance open and our team spot the thermally clad diver, we smile and head off to get our cutting tools. Now, as we have some new trainee attendants, if required, we usually task them to assist the diver into scrubs.

Scrubs are used to meet the safety requirements for inside the chamber as they are natural fibres, 100% cotton. This eliminates fire risk – if you remember in the last article, our fire system holds 800 litres of water? That’s a lot of water to come down on you!

So, you can imagine the look of horror on the diver’s face when we send in the trainee with our super-sharp shears. It’s not long before an elated diver appears in scrubs carrying their intact thermal protection.

Shortly followed by a grumpy trainee, who has just failed a task in his training manual. Nobody ever expects to end their day in a steel tube for many hours. The question we would urge everyone to think about who is leaving for a day’s diving is – ‘have I got my good pants on’?

In other news, the Pirates of the Caribbean DVD is still missing. We are still getting requests, so we gave in, we have gone digital. We can now stream live via an iPad that is placed against the porthole window and plugged in the sound system.

During testing, we thought it would be amusing for our trainees and played the video, Under Pressure by Queen, while they learn to set up the chamber ready for action.

Trainees got their own back – epic fail assembling the toilet as it turned into a wet disaster. Luckily only water from the tap was spilt and not from a human.

Lately, we have received lots of phone calls regarding urgently required medicals, especially for diving abroad. Please call during office hours on 01788 579555 and our friendly team will do our best to help you.

Emergency/advice line is open 24 hours, seven days a week. Please call 07931 472802. Don’t forget, if you find yourself in Rugby, the kettle is always on for a brew and maybe a biscuit – that’s if the team haven’t eaten them first.

This article was originally published in Scuba Diver UK #77

Subscribe digitally and read more great stories like this from anywhere in the world in a mobile-friendly format. Linked from Staying Warm Under Pressure-Chamber Diaries

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