French Naval Base Hosts Recompression Chamber Drill
Djiboutian medical officers and U.S. service members joined French, German and Dutch Coalition forces during a dive-decompression injury drill at the French Naval Base, Djibouti, November 7.
The drill tested the ability of participants to organize medical rescue and respond to a diver suffering from decompression illness. With observers standing by, the diver in the water simulated a decompression injury by demonstrating vague, but typical, neurologic symptoms -which are similar the symptoms of a stroke. Teammates immediately notified the German dive-emergency response team, which operates 24/7, 365 days a year. The response team sent a military ambulance with a supporting staff of three responders, including one dive medical officer.
The response time was roughly five minutes.
The patient was assessed, provided first-responder aid, and loaded onto a litter for transport to the French Naval Base, where the German recompression chamber is also located.
Upon arrival at the dive chamber, the diver was quickly transferred to the recompression unit, accompanied by one dive emergency medical technician. A simulated recompression-decompression algorithm was performed, and the patient emerged 45 minutes later in "good condition, symptom-free."
The German-made dive chamber was very similar to smaller, relatively mobile units used by the U.S. Navy and civilian dive communities.
Overall, the drill was an opportunity to observe the medical capabilities of international partners in the Djibouti area. It is yet another example of the multi-national cooperation which builds partner capacity, bringing assets to the area to supplement the capabilities of the U.S. military and other organizations in the region.