Subaquatics celebrates re-opening of recompression chamber

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 31            August 15, 2002

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The staff of Subaquatics Belize Limited

More than 30 people were on hand Monday to celebrate the grand re-opening and dedication of San Pedro's recompression chamber, opposite the Maya Island Air terminal. Subaquatics of Belize Limited, a private company, was first established on the island in 1989, to aid divers suffering from decompression sickness. What began as a temporary structure to accommodate staff and equipment is now a modern, state-of-the-art facility.

    Aside from several local dive shop representatives, Monday's dedication was attended by Subaquatics' technical staff and administrative personnel from Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica and Belize who were responsible for making the new recompression clinic operational. After welcoming everyone, Subaquatics' Director Mauricio Moreno provided a brief history of the company, stating that in 13 years of operation the chamber had served 345 patients, 95% of whom had full recoveries. He added that even with the infrastructural challenges of a small island, those patients had received some 1300 treatments. Director Moreno then took time to introduce and thank all the Subaquatics employees who had come so far and contributed so much. He stated that although a decompression chamber is medically important to the divers and residents of Ambergris Caye, it was also a great marketing tool for the island, as many more divers will frequent a destination with its own recompression facility. Mr. Moreno then thanked Director Yvette Burke and the staff of the Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT) as well as the British Forces for their assistance. He also recognized San Pedro staff members Antonia Guerrero, who was recently honored by Subaquatics in Cozumel, and Dr. Otto Rodriguez "for always being there" and for having "the biggest heart."

    Next, Mr. Moreno remarked that, as well as a new building, the facility's technical services had also been upgraded. He then announced that Subaquatics is now equipped to provide X-ray services for the island. As if this was not enough, he then surprised the audience with the news that another chamber had just arrived in the country from Baja, California and Mr. Peter Hughes of Sundancer Belize had generously provided free transportation from the US. Mr. Moreno explained that this chamber will extend recompression services to all dive destinations in southern Belize at a location (to be determined), somewhere between Dangriga and Placencia. 

    Mr. Moreno then explained that the economic and financial challenges associated with putting all of this together were aided by the support of the "dollar-a-diver" program in which dive shops charge each dive client one dollar, which is in turn donated to the island's facility. He commented that, while the majority of dive businesses "delivered," one in particular, had contributed the most. Mr. Moreno then presented Amigos del Mar Dive Shop with an award for outstanding achievement, and introduced owner Melanie Paz. Mrs. Paz took the opportunity to thank Subaquatics and the director for choosing Ambergris Caye as the site of their new facility. She also expressed her deep appreciation for technician Antonia Guerrero and Dr. Otto Rodriguez for so many dedicated years of service.

   Next, Master of Ceremonies Eiden Salazar introduced the local chamber staff: Manager and Dive Medic Eleazar Portillo, Chamber Technician and Operator Antonia Guerrero, Chamber Physician Otto Rodriguez and Patient Tender Abner Bacab.

    After a brief ribbon cutting ceremony, tours of the new facility were provided as well as refreshments.

    Subaquatics has twelve recompression chambers in ten destinations around the world, four of them in Mexico. The new chamber destined for southern Belize will make thirteen. The newly renovated San Pedro recompression chamber can now treat five divers simultaneously at different pressures. It houses a reception area, decompression chamber and X-ray room on the first floor, while the second floor of the facility provides space for the manager's office, visitors' quarters and a conference room.

    Anyone needing recompression chamber services may call 226-3195, fax 226-2852 or e-mail sssbelize Emergency services are available 24 hours-a-day by calling, 226-2851.

    Thanks to Subaquatics of Belize Limited for "Making Belize a safe dive destination"!
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