In pursuit of pristine reefs and untouched dive sites, many scuba divers are venturing out to more remote, less populated destinations. One such destination is Saba, fondly known as “The Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean” and offering some of the world’s most diverse dive sites. However, with sparse population and limited lift – only one airline offers daily flights to Saba – comes challenges in maintaining the level of onsite emergency medical care which is critical to diver safety. To help support both Saba’s visiting divers and the local diver population, Divers Alert Network (DAN) has partnered with the island’s dive operators to improve emergency medical services and offer much-needed safety resources.
There are currently three dive centers on Saba supporting an ever-growing influx of visiting divers. Emergency medical services include access to a hyperbaric chamber on-island, supported by a small medical team. The operation of the chamber, along with ongoing maintenance and upkeep, are both expensive and time-consuming, which can result in maintenance delays putting both divers and medical professionals at risk. When made aware of the island’s emergency medical needs, DAN representatives recently visiting Saba’s dive operators decided to put a plan into action.
DAN partnered with the dive operators to offer dive accident insurance to all visiting divers and, working together, the operators will donate proceeds from the coverage to supply critical funds towards the ongoing operation and maintenance of the Saba hyperbaric chamber. The dive medical staff will also take advantage of the DAN Recompression Chamber Assistance Program to continue to hone their dive emergency skills.
As emergency oxygen administration is a critical first response in the treatment of many dive injuries, oftentimes even before recompression therapy can be determined as an appropriate treatment, DAN staff conducted emergency oxygen training for the local dive staff and the Saba Conservation Foundation divers, as well. The course was so popular that all dive professional on the island attended.
Commenting on DAN’s support of the hyperbaric chamber, Saba chamber coordinator, Cheri Waterfield, said, “For a small island, Saba is very fortunate to have an operational chamber available to divers. Keeping the chamber maintained and functioning is not without its challenges. . . . We consider ourselves fortunate to have the expertise from DAN World to help support our training and operational efforts.”
The level of support provided to the Saba dive community is representative of the work DAN performs worldwide to improve diver safety. Making every dive safe and injury free is the organization’s ultimate vision, which is why hyperbaric physicians, dive businesses and dive professionals around the globe rely on DAN to provide the most up-to-date information on dive-related emergency medical treatment and response. As divers continue to explore increasingly remote dive destinations, DAN will continue to expand its efforts to strengthen onsite dive operations and emergency medical teams’ diver safety methods. Learn more about DAN and how you can support this global team dedicated to diver safety at DAN.org.