Updated: Nov 8, 2022
Visit to the London Hyperbaric, Whipps Cross Uni Hospital on a rainy Sunday
Wayne teaching hyperbaric science using a Pepsi as a prop at 40m.
Despite persistently inclement weather and an early alarm clock on a Sunday morning, our group of eight from Richmond Sub-Aqua Club managed to assemble at the allotted time of 09.30 in Walthamstow. We firstly embarked upon a lively briefing from the course leader, Wayne, a fantastically affable character who sounded like he had strolled in straight from the set of Eastenders. Wayne promulgated the inherent dangers and risks surrounding the many and varied combustible materials that could set off an explosion in the chamber, including but not limited to - Make-up, deodorant, sugar and any non-cotton fabric.
Once the extensive dangers around any materials that could possibly fulminate had been exhausted he proceeded to underline the fact that there was a definite risk of getting a bend during the process we were about to undertake and in fact, it had happened 6 times during the years he had been running the chamber. Some of us were in doubt as to the veracity of his statement but we were reassured by the fact that he promptly offset the risk by stating that if anyone did get a bend, we were in the best place to be treated!
Anyway, as we were all now experiencing a slight trepidation with regard to the dive and its possible pernicious effects we grouped together and ploughed on through the use of some bluff humour whilst we were forced to strip down to almost birthday suits (socks and undies) and donned our medical attire (surgical for some and orderly for others possibly based on the way we answered Waynes questions in the briefing or more likely on most appropriate sizing we are not 100% sure). After some quick photos and further instructions on what to do in the event of an explosion we all piled into the chamber, assumed our positions, and then promptly began the descent. As the pressure increased we were instructed to equalize as much as possible as the need for equalizing is for some reason much greater when the pressure is air rather than water and, given the risks around all the explosions, none of us wanted our heads to explode so we all observed the instruction as diligently as possible.
Once at 39m and Wayne went through a series of demonstrations and tests which was in danger of descending into 15 minutes of behavior akin to carousing at the local pub as many of us felt like we had just downed three Jaegerbombs and Wayne's high pitched cockney tones were sending many into hysterics. His demonstrations despite being hilarious and faulty towers-esque in their delivery (taking pens off people as they were trying to write their name etc) served to prove to us that narcosis definitely makes reactions somewhat slower and does affect everyone differently. Waynes assured us that the stories of people wanting to take their regulators out and give them to fish were in his words "utter bollocks" however we could all categorically see that reaction times were impacted at that pressure level.
After completing the dive Wayne took us through some well-presented information on medical treatment for the bends which was extremely informative and improved our knowledge both of how to deal with the bends and what the procedures and protocols were for attending a chamber once diagnosed.
In summary it was a fantastic experience (Big thank you to Andrew for organizing!) which allowed us all to come away with an improved knowledge base, and for those who genuflect at the altar of certificates, there is a specialty certificate that attaches to this dive. Thoroughly enjoyable and recommended!