Volunteer Crew Information
Chamber Operations Class
The Chamber Operations Class is a 2-1/2 day program designed to train people how to operate a hyperbaric chamber (specifically the Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber). Class size is limited to 4 students. Classes are generally scheduled following EDAM & ERD classes. The tuition for the class is $300.
General Chamber Operations Class Schedule
An all volunteer crew operates the USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber. Our daily crew consists of one Supervisor and three to four crew members on-call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Only the Program Manager and a half-time Technician receive any compensation - both are also active crew members. Locally at the Wrigley Marine Science Center (WMSC) and town of Two Harbors, we have approximately twelve volunteers who cover most of the chamber call during the weekdays. The large majority of the crew (approx. 60 active crew members) live on the mainland and come to the WMSC to spend 3 - 7 days at a time taking call. This group lives in a dozen different states and several countries. Most of them are active recreational, scientific, military, or commercial divers; however, their backgrounds and livelihoods are extremely diverse. What they do share though, is an active interest in the care of divers who find themselves in trouble.
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 Program Manager. (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 program.
- 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 Program Manager 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.
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. Scheduling is handled by calling in the times you want to volunteer. Sign-up for time is usually based on a first come basis.
In general, when an intern or crew member is on call they live in the Chamber Crew Apartment (Apt. 110) at the WMSC (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. The apartment has a full kitchen, stereo, TV, and VCR. It is the responsibility of the crew members to keep the apartment clean!
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.
- 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.
Tuition: The Hands-On Chamber Operations class tuition is $300 plus housing for 2-1/2 days (~$90). This tuition will cover the purchase of a Commuter Book from the Catalina Express for travel to and from Catalina during your Internship.
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 a Commuter Book for your travel for the first five trips of your Internship. Additional Commuter Books will be provided as long as you are actively signed up for Crew time. Parking at the Catalina Express Terminal in San Pedro is covered. In addition, some crew members utilize Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI or school) boats which travel to WMSC occasionally. The SCMI boat 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. Paid parking is available within the fenced in parking lot across the street from SCMI.