The diving in PNG and the Pacific islands is spread over a huge geographic area with sometimes difficult transport infrastructure. PNGDA has long recognised the need for an emergency diver treatment facility IN COUNTRY for several reasons:
The Chamber is located at the TropicAir terminal, Port Moresby International Airport which is one of the few airports in the region capable of 24hr operations. The pressurised aircraft can deliver patients direct to the facility, thus eliminating the need for ground transport.
The actual chamber is a 57” Diameter twin lock, multi place chamber with a maximum operating depth of 60 meters. It can run a USN TT6A if required, although we have never had the need.
It is perfectly set up for 1 patient and a nurse, although we have on occasion treated 2 patients together.
The facility has redundant systems: Backup power, HP stored air, onboard fire suppression, audio and visual coms systems.
The hardware & equipment is owned, maintained and managed by DAN via its affiliate company HYPERBARIC PARTNERS LTD. Medical oversight is provided by DAN via a local based consultant doctor trained in Hyperbaric Medicine.
The Aeromedical Evacuation Serviced is provided by Tropicair/Medicair, using specially equipped aircraft capable of providing evacuation at “SEA LEVEL CABIN PRESSURE” from all over the PNG/Solomons/Pacific region.
In addition to the Chamber, Port Moresby has clinics able to provide advanced diagnostic services and specialised hospital care in the unlikely event that it is needed.
* This is the 4th facility in the continuing ‘evolution” of the diver safety net in the country
* The current facility opened January 2019.
MEDICAL DIRECTOR & Hyperbaric doctor: Dr. Bobby Wellsh.
FACILITY CO-ORDINATOR: John Miller
John is responsible for the maintenance & co-ordination of staffing and treatment conduct.
We have a small and dedicated team of hyperbaric technicians who, in some cases, volunteer their time to operate the facility to conduct treatments.
Registered nurses are brought in on an “as required” basis and are paid staff.
In the event of an incident, PNGDA has a tested and proven procedure for mobilising the facility and treatment team.
The Chamber is locally administered and funded by the PNGDA by way of a diver “Environment & Safety Fee", which is charged on a per diver/per dive day basis. This provides funding for chamber facility maintenance costs as well as PNGDA’s environment & conservation projects.
DAN (Divers Alert Network) Insurance is preferred as DAN, Tropicair, & PNGDA have contractual arrangements in place, reducing delays which prevent the financial and “red tape” issues from getting in the way of providing medical care without delay.
All PNGDA participating operators are provided with Diving Emergency Procedures which is regularly updated.
It is an observed fact that recreational divings safety record has steadily improved over the years. Diver treatment facilities all over the world report progressively reduced diver treatments each year.
An informal inspection of our records from PNG show that our diver incident rate is about HALF THE WORLD AVERAGE in regard to incidents per dive.
The ability to maintain this facility as a quality service provider on 24/7 call-out rely heavily on the efforts of the PNGDA & DAN and of course the dedicated team of volunteers who are on call-out. Most importantly, it relies on the divers who use the services of the PNGDA affiliated dive operators and the support levy they pay. There is no way that this facility could remain available on a strictly commercial basis without this support. So, to all divers - Tenkyu tumas!