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Pacific Grove Hyperbaric Chamber Re-opens

The PG Hyperbaric Chamber treats both diving-related injuries and victims of smoke inhalation.

The Pacific Grove Hyperbaric Chamber reopened August 3, 2013 and is again available for emergency treatment of divers suffering from hyperbaric trauma. It is the only multi-place emergency chamber for California divers between Fairfield and Santa Catalina Island. Divers can now update their dive accident management plans to take advantage of this critical central coast treatment facility. The chamber was reopened through the joint efforts of PG Hyperbaric Chamber volunteers, the dive community and public, the City of Pacific Grove, Monterey Bay Sanctuary Foundation, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA, and multiple central California marine science and research institutions (e.g., UC Santa Cruz and Hopkins Marine Station).

On June 19, 2012 PG city officials suspended the chamber’s operations and converted its part-time employees to volunteers, citing insurance liability issues as the main cause. The city has been offering hyperbaric chamber treatments since 1963, at first taking one patient at a time, but in 1984 acquired the current chamber, which is big enough to fit several patients and medical attendants.

Volunteers run the hyperbaric chamber team – including technicians, operators, nurses and physicians – and are on call for emergencies.  Patients needing the use of the chamber must be referred to the facility by a physician, so it is important to alert EMS when dealing with diving victims.  The attending physician will determine the most effective course of action, which may mean being pressurized in the PG Chamber after a visit to Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula.

A hyperbaric chamber, also called a decompression chamber or recompression chamber, is sealed chamber that can create a high-pressure environment, which is used to treat diving-related injuries, such decompression sickness and arterial gas embolism.  In addition, these chambers are used to treat carbon monoxide poisoning, gas gangrene resulting from infection by anaerobic bacteria, and tissue injury arising from radiation therapy for cancer.

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