The scuba diving community in Munster have come together to campaign and fundraise for a hyperbaric chamber.
If decompression sickness is contracted, it is treated by hyperbaric oxygen therapy in a recompression chamber and, if treated early, there is a significantly higher chance of successful recovery.
The scuba divers need to raise more than €160,000 for the vital piece of equipment and are hoping to locate it on a hospital campus somewhere in Cork. The new fundraiser, Munster Hyperbaric Chamber Project, aims to provide a hyperbaric chamber to be used in case of emergencies for divers in the south-west region.
John Kearney, a well-known diver from Baltimore, Co Cork, is one of the main promoters behind the project. “As with all sporting activities, accidents can happen and in scuba diving emergencies a hyperbaric chamber is needed for decompression,” Mr Kearney said. “At present in Ireland, there is a single hyperbaric chamber located in Galway that caters for all such emergencies for the diving public. There is a private chamber in Dublin as well as the Naval Service in Haulbowline and neither is available in an emergency,” he said.
Distance and, consequently, time lost in the event of an emergency are some of the biggest challenges facing divers in the South-West. “That’s because the facilities are so far away from those parts of the coast where the diving takes place, it can add to the challenges facing the expansion of this sport.”
Mr Kearney said it was hoped to have the hyperbaric chamber purchased and operational by next March, which will coincide with the start of the scuba diving season.