Our Community - Antonia Guerrero - Another flavor of Life Saver

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 9, No. 42            November 4, 1999

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Antonia Guerrero

The fast development of San Pedro has aroused much talk. In some cases it has been said that the development has been for the good and sometimes for the not so good of the island. These criticisms can be justified by long talks about the pros and cons that come with development. The community always strives to carefully plan the development of our island and has made many wise choices in doing this. One example is the Sub-aquatic of Belize, SSS Recompression Network (Hyperbaric Chamber). This facility has been vital to the growing tourism industry, especially the divers. More significant, are the personnel who administer and run the daily operations of the chamber. In this week's Our Community we are happy to feature a very important member of the team - Mrs. Antonia Guerrero.

    Born in San Pedro to Maria Reina and Pablo Guerrero, Antonia grew up living a simple life like the rest of the locals of that time. She attended elementary school and then joined her sisters and brothers in the work force to help with the household expenses. At the young age of thirteen, she moved to Chetumal, Quintanaroo, Mexico to try her luck. Even though her schooling in San Pedro was limited, what she had learned was enough and the fact that she spoke English gave her a better chance of getting a job in Chetumal. She worked in the tourism industry (dive shops and tourism information) for fourteen years in Mexico. After all this time though, home sickness overcame her and she returned to the island.  

    This would mean a new beginning for Antonia, but her strong willpower gave her the courage to overcome obstacles. Her first step was to look for a job. The Hyperbaric Chamber had been opened in San Pedro since 1989, two years before Antonia returned to San Pedro. She was employed to do the housekeeping for this new facility. She would do her assigned job without hesitation but felt a strong inclination towards the machinery and the daily operations of the Chamber. Antonia kept asking questions and receiving answers. In no time, she was assisting with the documents, answering the telephone and giving out information. Antonia's employers recognized her great potential and in December of 1992, she was given the opportunity of her lifetime. Antonia traveled to Cozumel, Mexico where she took a fifteen day Hyperbaric Chamber Tender and Chamber Operator Course. After this first course, Antonia came back with an intense ambition to learn more and perform her duties as Chamber Technician. She continued to learn and eventually in September 1994 she was sent to Duke University in North Carolina, USA to continue her training. There she earned a Divers Alert Network (DAN) Oxygen Provider Certificate, qualifying her in oxygen first aid. That same year she also received training in Dive Medicine and Hyperbaric Chamber Operations. She has also recently undertaken a Professional Rescue Instructor/CPR Course from the Belize Red Cross Society.

    Presently Antonia is the Manager and Hyperbaric Technician, and works closely with Dr. Otto Rodriguez, Hyperbaric Physician and Victor Vasquez, tender and maintenance person. Aside from being the mother of thirteen-year-old Jorge Guerrero, she is on-call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. She believes that due to the large amount of divers that come to the island, the Chamber is critical. Its main purpose is to have all resources available in case of a diving accident such as decompression sickness type II. She continued by saying this is why it is important that divers pay their US$1 tank fee, money that goes towards the Chamber's expenses.

    Antonia told the San Pedro Sun, "I am very satisfied with my job. I see myself working with the Chamber for many years, as well as taking additional courses pertaining to the facility. I've seen the Chamber grow and I have personally grown with it. What is very rewarding to me is the thank you letters that we receive from our patients."

    Determination and strong will power have made Antonia a very essential person at the Hyperbaric Chamber. She continues to learn daily and works diligently to serve her patients. She is an admirable person and a fine Technician and we are grateful to have her as a member of Our Community.

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