On Saturday the 17th of March a number of our club members attended our club trip to the Midlands Dive Chamber based in Rugby, to partake in a dry dive to 50 meters. This was a good opportunity to participate in a dive to 50m in a controlled environment without the need for extensive technical training. It also gave members an opportunity to experience and see the workings of a hyperbaric chamber in case they ever need to use one in the future to treat any D.C.S symptoms or occurrences.
Upon arrival we were greeted by Robbie and his team and asked to change into some hospital scrubs in order to keep any contaminants out of the clean environment of the chamber. We were then given a brief lecture on the workings of the chamber and decompression sickness before we proceeded into the chamber to begin our dry dive.
The dive itself lasted 48 minutes and was based on the US navy dive tables for recompression treatment. We descended to 50m in approximately 6 minutes where we remained for a total of 9 minutes.
During this time, we got to see and experience the effects of both Boyle's and Charles's law and also the effects of narcosis at depth. Whilst on the bottom we were assigned a simple task where we had to replace a series of numbers with its corresponding letter of the alphabet in order to create a word. At this depth this posed challenging for most due to the effects of narcosis.
When we left the bottom, we ascended to 12m, where we remained for a minute on air, we then ascended to 9m and remained here for 4 minutes on 100% oxygen, finally we ascended to 6m where we remained for a further 23minutes on 100% oxygen.
Whilst we were at 6m we had to repeat the letter and number task to show how much quicker we were able to complete it when not experiencing any narcosis like effects, for most people they were able to complete this task much quicker. As a result of our decompression on 100% oxygen, we actually ended up leaving the chamber with less nitrogen in our bodies than when we entered.
Upon exiting the chamber, we were debriefed at the control panel, where Robbie was able to monitor us all for any D.C.S symptoms and at the same time show us how he works the chamber and monitors everything that goes on inside. Finally we were able to log our dive and we all received a midlands dive chamber T-shirt as a souvenir. Overall it was a fantastic experience that was both extremely informative and beneficial. I would highly recommend a trip of this nature to all club members if ever presented with the opportunity.
As a final note, I believe that as divers we all have to recognize and accept the fact that we are at risk of decompression sickness even when we do everything correctly. Therefore, I believe that experiencing and learning about what you would have to do during recompression treatment is essential to us all. It also helps to alleviate anxiety and fear of the unknown, as you have experienced and seen a condensed version of what would occur in these circumstances.
It also turned out to be a good social event and created an opportunity for some of our newer members to meet existing members of the club.
Great fun was had by all!
Written by Club Member: Robert O'Rourke
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Registered address: 8 Horn Close, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6FE