Divers Alert Network (DAN) Emergency Line
Volunteer Crew Pages
The USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber, located on the campus of the USC Wrigley Marine Science Center at Big Fisherman Cove at the West End of Catalina Island, is an emergency medical facility for the treatment of scuba diving accidents. Without proper treatment, major problems from diving accidents, most commonly Decompression Sickness (the "Bends") and Air Embolism, can lead to permanent disabling injuries and in some instances be fatal. In the Southern California area around Catalina Island, the combination of effective on-site management of a diving accident along with the rapid response by Los Angeles County Baywatch Lifeguards, or the U.S. Coast Guard, and swift, effective treatment at the Chamber can save a diver's life.
The USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber is 24 feet long, 9-1/2 feet in diameter and has two locks. The size of the Chamber allows the possibility of treating multiple patients simultaneously (to date, the maximum number of patients treated simultaneously is four) and allows room to perform CPR and Advanced Life Support for patients who arrive in cardiac arrest. The Chamber facility is an extension of the L.A. County/USC Medical Center Emergency Room and is part of the countywide Medical Alert Center (MAC). Funding for the Chamber comes from L.A. County and donations from generous contributors, dive clubs, dive boat operators, and fund raising activities.
The USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days year, by a rotating volunteer crew. Our crew, coming from around the U.S., is a diverse group dedicated to helping improve dive safety. Membership as a crew member is available to anyone with a desire to be of service to the dive community. Our Director, Karl Huggins, 1993 DAN/Rolex Diver of the Year, is well known in the diving industry as co-developer of the EDGE dive computer and the creator of the Michigan Sea Grant "HUGI" Dive Tables.
The word hyperbaric comes from "hyper" (meaning "over, above, more than normal") and "baric" (meaning "of weight or pressure"). For a treatment, the chamber is compressed to pressures as great as 165 feet of seawater (fsw) by sealing its doors and pumping in high-pressure air. The patient then breathes gas containing a high percent of oxygen (47% oxygen at 165 fsw, or 100% oxygen at 60 fsw and shallower) through a mask. The combination of high pressure and increased oxygen levels have achieved astounding results. On occasion, a diver in full arrest can, upon reaching a critical pressure in the chamber, regain a pulse.