The recompression chamber in Honiara

Update December 2022: Since this article was published, the chamber in Honiara has been damaged beyond repair. While efforts are being made to source and fund a replacement chamber, the nearest recompression chamber for treating suspected DCI cases is in Brisbane, Australia.

“You Bend ‘Em, We Mend ‘Em”

A common question from guests on any of our boats is how far away the nearest recompression chamber is. For our trips operating in the Solomons, we have a recompression chamber in Honiara run by volunteers. This chamber services the entire  Solomon Islands and their motto is “You Bend ‘Em, We Mend ‘Em”.

Honiara recompressions chamber badge

 

The motto: You Bend ‘Em, We Mend ‘EM – credit: Dave Pearce

Troy Shelley is the man we have to thank for the humorous motto. Troy, the owner/operator at Tulagi Dive and Commercial Diver at Solomons Commercial Diving Services Ltd, is the driving force of the Honiara recompression chamber. He runs, maintains, and sources all the volunteers and without him, we would be sunk!

A chamber run by volunteers in Honiara

We are extremely fortunate to have this team of dedicated and highly trained volunteers running the chamber.  At any point in time, there are between 2 and 8 trained volunteers who can run the chamber at a very short-notice. These volunteers’ group consists of several local divers as well as some staff from the local hospital. David Pearce who kindly provided all the photos in this article is also a volunteer at the Honiara recompression chamber.

The chamber is supported by Divers Alert Network (DAN) whose work we can all appreciate as divers. They  are champions of dive safety and have always supported the diving community through emergency response training and safety education. The chamber and DAN even run programs to train new volunteers. This partnership ensures that us divers can have access to first-aid recompression treatment in case something goes wrong.

Our very own dive guide Lupa Anning (below) is due for the next round of training.

Solomon PNG Master Dive Guide

 

Lupa Anning – Master Liveaboards dive guide in the Solomons

The remoteness challenge

Operating in the Solomon Islands is amazing, but on the downside you are often away from medical facilities. So all the dive companies work together to ensure there is a robust emergency plan. All of us operators discuss it and sign off.  It includes evacuation from the site, chamber use, hotel accommodation for family members, and evacuation in the event of an emergency. This is why, for your peace of mind and ours, we require you to always carry insurance. This insurance needs to specifically cover you for diving and for air evacuation in the event of an emergency.

If proof were needed that a chamber is required, here is a very recent event that the chamber dealt with. It’s not only tourists diving that need help:

Recently, we had a hyperbaric chamber case. It was a result of a surface air compressor (hookah) operator running out of air at depth. DAN and the chamber team can not stress enough the dangers of using such a device, instead of proper training and diving equipment. It is also really important in decompression sickness / illness incidences, you seek assistance immediately or within 24-48hrs.

Reported by Troy Shelly of Tulaghi Dive

 

Sneak peek inside

The machinery of Honiara chamber

 

The machinery

 

 

We compile all the info you may need, regarding medical facilities or otherwise, on our FAQ and keep this as updated as possible.

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