Recompression chambers are used to treat scuba divers suffering from cases of the bends when dissolved gasses form bubbles inside the body. This can be caused by resurfacing too quickly or diving too deeply, among other things. Persons suffering from divers’ disease are treated by oxygen therapy inside a recompression or hyperbaric chamber.
Such chambers are few and far between in the South Pacific, and in emergencies, divers have been evacuated to Australia or New Zealand for treatment. Visiting scuba divers will be comforted to know that both Fiji and French Polynesia have working recompression chambers in their main hospitals, and both have moved in the past year.
In Suva, Fiji, the recompression chamber originally at Suva Private Hospital on Amy Street has moved to Colonial War Memorial Hospital on Waimanu Road. The Fiji Hyperbaric Unit (tel. 321-5525) is staffed from 7 am to 5 pm weekdays on call for emergencies 24 hours a day. In Papeete on Tahiti, French Polynesia, the recompression chamber (caisson hyperbare) formerly at Mamao Territorial Hospital on avenue Georges Clemenceau has moved in early 2010 to the new Centre hospitalier de Polynesie francaise ( tel. 46-62-62) in Pirae just east of Papeete.