SCUBA Diving News: We Have a Hyperbaric Chamber on Koh Tao!
We have some excellent news for safety-conscious divers visiting our island. The Koh Tao hyperbaric chamber is now open and fully operational!
While the standards of dive training on Koh Tao are very high and accidents are rare, many visitors ask whether there’s a hyperbaric chamber on Koh Tao when they’re researching their dive courses and fun diving trips.
Until earlier in 2023, the nearest diving chamber was on Koh Samui. But now we have our very own hyperbaric chamber offering medical treatment for divers right here on the island.
Not sure what a hyperbaric chamber is, or want to learn more about diving safety on Koh Tao? We’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a Hyperbaric Chamber?
A hyperbaric chamber, often referred to as a recompression chamber or diving chamber, is a pressurised capsule-like sealed room used to treat decompression sickness (also known as “the bends”) and other pressure-related injuries that can occur during scuba diving. Diving chambers are designed to mimic the atmospheric pressure of being at depth, which can help to remove excess nitrogen gas from the body’s tissues and promote healing.
We must emphasise that Koh Tao dive training is incredibly safe, and the chamber is rarely used considering the volume of diving activities that go on here day in and day out. However, with such a large scuba diving community heading out to explore the oceans 365 days a year, it makes sense to have a dedicated hyperbaric chamber on Koh Tao rather than having to evacuate to Koh Samui by speedboat in the event of diving accidents and underwater emergencies.
How Does the Koh Tao Diving Chamber Work?
When a diver ascends too quickly from depth, nitrogen bubbles can form in the bloodstream and tissues. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help to dissolve these bubbles. When receiving hyperbaric treatment, the patient enters the chamber and is sealed inside with one of Koh Tao’s professional chamber operators. The pressure is gradually increased, and, once at depth, the patient breathes pure oxygen through a BIB (built-in breathing) mask, which is supplied through the diving chamber’s ventilation system. The duration of oxygen therapy treatment varies, but typically ranges from three to five hours. During the treatment, the pressure is gradually decreased until the patient can safely exit the recompression chamber. The process is usually repeated multiple times over the course of several days until the patient is fully recovered. Treatments at the hyperbaric chamber on Koh Tao are staffed with a minimum of 3 professionals at all times. It is a costly treatment, so having good diving insurance is strongly recommended.
There are alternative uses for the chamber outside of diving medicine, however. In addition to treating decompression sickness with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, recompression chambers can also be used to help other patients with the following ailments.
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Soft tissue infections
- Radiation injuries
- Non-healing wounds
Where is the Koh Tao Hyperbaric Chamber Located?
The hyperbaric chamber on Koh Tao is located in Mae Haad. It’s just off the main road that leads to Chalok Bay, opposite Leo Evolution and across from Seven-Eleven.
24hr Emergency Number +66 (0)81 081 9777
Who Operates the Koh Tao Diving Chamber?
The hyperbaric chamber on Koh Tao is operated by the SSS Chamber Network. This international organisation is recognised worldwide for its professionalism in providing the highest quality medical treatment for divers with pressure-related injuries or decompression sickness. The SSS network works closely with the government hospital and clinics and our local emergency services. The facility has Thai-speaking and western Dive Medical Technicians (DMTs), chamber operators, and a paramedic with over 30 years of experience – several of whom are also dive instructors. There is always a fully trained consulting physician on duty who has been accredited by the international association in hyperbaric and diving medicine.
Another Reminder About Diving Safety on Koh Tao
Koh Tao dive training is some of the highest quality in the world. So please believe us when we say diving accidents and underwater emergencies are incredibly rare. As an island, it’s estimated that we certify around 80,000 divers per year across various diving courses and scuba diving agencies. And it’s just impossible to do that without having exceptionally high diving safety policies. So you’re in safe hands on Koh Tao!
Diving Safety on Koh: FAQs
We hope you’ve found this information useful and that it helps you to plan a safe, enjoyable, and fun-filled scuba diving holiday. We’ll leave you with the last few frequently asked questions that customers often ask us when they’re booking their dive training on Koh Tao.
Is diving on Koh Tao safe?
Yes! There are several excellent dive operators on the island, all with excellent safety standards. Plus, the water is warm, the visibility is usually good all year round, there are minimal waves, and very few currents.
Am I likely to get sick or injured while scuba diving?
No! As long as you’re medically fit to dive, it’s likely you’ll have no concerns, provided that you follow your dive leader’s instructions, stay hydrated, and avoid drinking alcohol the evening before your dive trips.
What are the signs and symptoms of decompression sickness?
Signs and symptoms of decompression sickness may include joint pain, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, nausea, numbness, tingling, and shortness of breath. If you’re ever concerned after a dive, we recommend you contact your dive instructor and dive centre immediately, and they will coordinate with the hyperbaric chamber on Koh Tao for you from there. Alternatively, you can call the 24-hour number directly and be advised by one of the chamber’s on-site dive medics. But again, we cannot reinforce enough how infrequently this happens.
Need Help Booking Your Dive Training on Koh Tao?
Island Travel is proud to work with a selection of the island’s best scuba diving centres. Whether you want to try diving, learn to dive, become a dive pro, or just book some fun diving trips, we can give you all the recommendations you need – and we can even help you with booking.