Each phase of the Global Reef Expedition is a serious undertaking, involving hundreds of logistical details and many, many hours of work, not to mention communications with scientists, educators and governments spread out around the globe. However, one of the most important facets of any expedition is the safety of the team once they are on board the ship and especially when at least 20 people are in the water diving approximately three times every day. To this end, a full-time doctor and nurse are aboard for all expeditions, as is a dive safety officer. These medical professionals bring with them years of experience in diving and shipboard medical care.
To utilize our time in transit well, Dr. Rick Pullinger and Georgina Evans, ENP have offered several orientations and training sessions to familiarize the research team with the safety equipment on the Golden Shadow, from splints in case of broken limbs, to the recompression chamber in the event of a diving accident. The ship is well stocked with emergency medications, equipment and supplies and team members have now had a chance to see how shipboard medical care works, even learning how to immobilize and transport an individual with a spinal injury.
Nick Cautin is on the Inaguas expedition as Dive Safety Officer. Among Nick’s responsibilities on board will be to operate the recompression chamber, both for daily maintenance and in the event of a diving accident. Divers face physical risks when they breathe compressed air at depth, and while these risks can be mitigated by practicing dive safety, as we all know, accidents happen. The accident we are most concerned about as divers is known as decompression sickness. This occurs when nitrogen gas comes out of solution and forms bubbles in a diver’s blood stream. The condition can be painful, debilitating and, at worst, even fatal. The Golden Shadow carries a recompression chamber to treat anyone stricken by decompression sickness. The chamber will be pressurized to artificially bring the diver back down to a pressure like that experienced underwater at 60 feet of depth. This essentially forces any bubbles in the bloodstream back into solution and the pressure in the chamber can then be slowly released bringing the diver safely back to surface pressure. One treatment can take roughly four hours. Since this is nothing to fool around with, dive safety on every dive is of utmost concern and Nick has an extremely important role to play on the expedition.
On a lighter note, with a film crew aboard, the opportunity also arose to create a video tour of the vessel. You can watch the 3:16 minute long video by clicking here. Executive Director, CAPT Phil Renaud walks viewers through the Golden Shadow pointing out features of shipboard life.
Welcome to the ship and we hope you enjoy our tour.
Written by Kit van Wagner
(Photo/Images by: 1 – 3 Kit van Wagner)
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