FEMA Back Up Treatment Chambers
Did you know that the NOAA Diving Center’s (NDC) hyperbaric chambers could be used to treat patients in an emergency?
The primary hyperbaric treatment center in Seattle is at Virginia Mason, and victims of diving accidents or carbon monoxide poisoning are always taken there first. However, in case of a large scale emergency that overwhelms the local medical facilities or if Virginia Mason were not available, NDC is setup as a back-up FEMA facility for hyperbaric treatments.
The NDC has five functioning hyperbaric chambers on site: an 80 inch, two 60 inch, one 42 inch, and a mobile Draeger chamber. The measurements for each chamber refer to the diameter of the enclosure. Although NDC’s chambers are normally used only for training (teaching physicians and DMTs how to operate the various chambers, or to allow students to safely experience the effect of deep dives) they are maintained regularly and can be put to use when necessary. In addition, NDC instructors are certified hyperbaric chamber operators and EMTs with particular expertise in the systems found on site.
Although we hope there never comes a time when an emergency would force the NDC to use the chambers for the treatment of a victim, government contingencies are in place to make sure individuals involved in a disaster situation can receive appropriate care.