Cork needs its own chamber for sufferers of ‘the bends'

June 17th, 2018 11:50 AM

By Jackie Keogh

John Kearney believes a hyperbaric chamber is needed in Cork. (Photo: Emma Jervis)

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A West Cork diver has had to be flown out of the State for treatment of the bends.


A WEST Cork diver has had to be flown out of the State for treatment of the bends.

The man, who got into difficulty recently while diving off Glandore, was airlifted to a hyperbaric chamber in Galway, but when the rescue crew found it was ‘offline’, they had to redirect him to another decompression facility in Craigavon in Co Armagh.

John Kearney, who is spearheading a campaign to have a hyperbaric chamber installed at Cork University Hospital, and who founded West Cork Rapid Response, said: ‘Apart from the immense distress the diver was in, this situation is deeply worrying because the diving season has only just begun.’

John said the emergency also underlines the need for a decompression service for Cork county, particularly West Cork, which has become synonymous with diving on wrecks and reefs.

‘Distance and time is lost in the event of an emergency,’ said John, ‘and these are some of the biggest challenges facing the scuba diving community in the South West.’

A hyperbaric chamber is used in decompressing the bends.

 It allows a scuba diver to be pressurised to a depth similar to that of their recent dive, and be brought up slowly over several hours in a safe environment and under medical supervision.

During the recent medical evacuation, John said: ‘At one stage, it was even suggested that the man would have to be flown to the Isle of Man, but they flew him north instead.’ 

There is some good news, however. John said he believes that there will – with the support of sponsor – be a hyperbaric chamber at CUH before the end of 2018.

Anyone who would like to support the project can contact the group by emailing: [email protected]. Or to make a donation see the Munster Hyperbaric Chamber Project on

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