Like many, I’ve been fortunate to have made it through my diving career without any serious injuries. While I’ve definitely had my share of urchin spines and swallowed more a few mouthfuls of saltwater, so far I’ve managed to return from a few thousand dives relatively unscathed.
Even with proper training, careful planning, and good judgment, we all know that unexpected complications can happen on any dive. A faster than normal ascent, staying too deep too long, and a few dozen other possible events can land a diver in the recompression chamber. Fortunately it’s quite rare, but nonetheless 1,000 U.S. divers end up spending time in one each year.
The fact is that regardless of how careful we are, there may be a time when we may need treatment in a recompression chamber. While there are approximately 1,200 hyperbaric chambers throughout the United States, fewer than 140 are available 24 hours a day, and the Catalina chamber is one of only two that are dedicated solely to divers. In addition to the facility itself, there are 80 active volunteers who donate their time at the chamber. The chamber is run by an almost all-volunteer crew, which is supported by medical staff from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the emergency department at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center.
The Catalina Island Chamber gets about 50% of its funding from the County, and the Chamber Day & Eve fundraising event has become a major source of funds to keep the Chamber available for divers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Last year’s event raised over $125,000 for the chamber, and this year’s event is taking place in just a few weeks on Wednesday, May 7.
Chamber Day is an excellent opportunity to both have a great time diving and support the chamber. The main event, Chamber Day, includes a full day of diving (two dives) at Catalina, plus a walking tour of the Chamber at the Isthmus. Cost is $95 (plus $30 for food and airfills, which goes to the boat). This gets you the diving, the tour, a T-shirt, and 5 daytime raffle tickets. There are many other events and activities, and all monies raised go directly to the chamber.
If you’re a diver, please consider supporting the Catalina Chamber by attending this wonderful event. If you’re unable to, please help support the chamber with an online donation. It takes only a few minutes, and 100% of your support goes directly to the chamber. There are many donation levels available as a part of the Chamber Challenge, but any amount – even $10, $20, or $50 would be appreciated and used to help injured divers in the coming year. You can visit the Chamber Day website here, and click here to join the event or make an online donation.
All of us hope we’ll never have to pay a visit the the Catalina Island Hyperbaric Chamber as a patient, but it’s nice to know it’s there should the need ever arise. Please take a moment and support this important event.
– Chris Constantine
California Diver Magazine