Becoming a Chamber Volunteer Crew Member

A frequently asked question is, "How can I become a member of the Chamber Crew?" We want our crew members to have a diverse and thorough knowledge of diving theory and diving accident management; more than what is taught in general scuba classes (even Master and Leadership level certifications). This gives the crew a broader base of knowledge to draw from in working to understand what is happening during the treatment of a diver and what might have been the causes of the diving accident.

The following is the progression of steps required to become a Full member of the Chamber Crew:

  • Successful completion of either the USC Catalina Chamber's Emergency Diving Accident Management (EDAM) course, the Emergency Response Diver (ERD) program, or the Mainland Chamber Crew Team Training Program (Individuals who have equivalent advanced training such as DMT or CHT and wish to apply for crew training, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.)
  • Interview with the Chamber Director. (This is usually handled informally during the EDAM, ERD, or Crew Team Training course.)
  • Commit to scheduling 15 days of your 30-day Internship time prior to taking the hands-on Chamber Operations training.
  • Successful completion of the 2-1/2 day Chamber Operation Hands-On training Class.
  • Successfully demonstrate proficiency in all three Crew positions (Recorder, Operator, and Tender) during 30 days of internship, within one year after finishing the Chamber Operation class.
  • Approval of applicant by the Chamber Director and the Chamber Crew Supervisors.

Acceptance into the Chamber Operations course and completion of the 30 day internship does not automatically guarantee acceptance into the Chamber Crew. Potential crew members will be continually trained and evaluated during the internship. Any applicant that is unable to perform all the duties required of a crew member will not be accepted on crew. Since the crew members live and work together closely while they are on call, the ability of the applicant to get along with the rest of the crew will also be used as a criteria of acceptance.

Crew Time:

Scheduled crew time may be served in blocks as short as 48 hours (i.e. Friday night to Sunday night) or as much as a month straight. Crew time can be scheduling on-line or by calling in the times you want to volunteer. Crew sign-up for shifts are usually based on a first come basis.

In general, when an intern or crew member is on call they stay in the Chamber Crew Apartment (Apt. 110) at the lab (other housing arrangements can be made for additional charges). The apartment has a single bedroom with two queen sized bunk beds which easily sleep four individuals. If there is a mixed gender Crew a dorm room will be made available. The apartment has a full kitchen, stereo, Satellite TV, Blue Ray, DVD, VCR, and even a Laser Disk player (yes, there are some Laser Disks in the Crew movie library). Keeping Apt. 110 clean and orderly is the responsibility of the Crew.

Meals are your responsibility while on-call. Most crew members bring their own food to prepare their meals in the Crew Apartment. Some crew members opt to eat in the WMSC cafeteria, if it is open. On-Call Activities:

  • Patient Treatment - This is the primary reason for you being here. While on-call, all other activities must come second. Actual experience with real patients is probably the most important and valuable aspect of this program.
  • Proficiency Training - Keeping your skills up by participating in training runs is a necessity. Plan on doing at least one training run a day during your stay. Any other activities must be scheduled around the training runs.
  • Routine Chamber Chores - There are routine chores that need to be done at the chamber or chamber office. In general these chores when done with the entire crew can be completed in about an hour.
  • Swimming & Snorkeling - There are no special requirements for swimming or snorkeling in Big Fisherman Cove. However, you need to follow the WMSC swimming and snorkeling regulations.
  • Diving - In order to be able to dive while on Crew you need to; 1) Complete your Internship, 2) Join the WMSC Scientific Diving Program, and 3) Conform to the WMSC Scientific Diving Program regulations.
  • Hiking, jogging, kayaking, etc. - You must remain within a limited on-call distance of the chamber at all times and are subject to immediate recall. Generally this is restricted to the WMSC grounds, Two Harbors, and the road/waterway in-between.
  • Baywatch Ride Along - Some crew members opt to do an occasional ride along with the Baywatch paramedics. This needs to be coordinated in advance and your participation depends upon the Baywatch Captain.
  • Research Projects - Occasionally crew members will assist some of the WMSC research divers with their research projects.

The Crew also assists with the Chamber Classes and at various events like the Avalon Underwater Clean-Up, Chamber Day, Diver Day at the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Gold Star Dive in Avalon, and the annual Scuba Show in Long Beach.

Every year the Chamber has Wash-Down Party weekend where the Chamber's fire supression system is tested at 6 ATA (165 fsw / 50 msw). The Chamber is stripped of anything we do not want to get wet, the Crew suits up in their wetsuits, "dives" to depth, and sets off the sprinklers and and fire hoses (see video below).

Costs :

Housing costs:
The Chamber Crew has their own apartment at WMSC. There is no charge for Chamber Crew Volunteers staying in the Crew apartment. Alternate housing at the lab may be available at a reasonable rate for Chamber Crew Volunteers who opt not to stay in the Crew apartment.

Meal costs:
Most Chamber Crew Volunteers bring their own food. If you eat at the cafeteria the cost is up to $27 per day and is paid to WMSC.

Transportation costs:
Your Chamber Operations class tuition covers the cost of Commuter Books for your travel for the first ten trips of your Internship. Once you move to Full Crew additional commuter books will be provided as long as you are signed up for four or more future Crew shifts.
Parking at the Catalina Express Terminal in San Pedro is covered by rotating parking card keys.
Some Crew Members are able to utilize the USC School Boat (Miss Christi) out of the Southern California Marine Institute on Terminal Island. The Miss Christi schedule is available on the Crew webpages. There is no charge for riding on the SCMI boat, but reservations need to be made with the WMSC Office. Free parking is available for crew members on the street.


(Video by Luke Peterson)

  • USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber
  • P.O. Box 5069
  • 1 Big Fisherman Cove
  • Avalon, CA 90704
  • Emergency Phone: 310-510-1053