Phuket Tourist Alert: How to Avoid The Dreaded DCI When Diving in Phuket
Decompression Illness, or DCI, is a serious but relatively rare affliction for Phuket divers. However, this is not the case for tourists, and while tour operators in Phuket stress safety vigorously, as a visitor to the island, there are a few things you need to know about DCI:
DCI or the related illness, DSI (Decompression Sickness) occurs, on average, during 1 in 10,000 tourist dives. The symptoms of both are similar. Patients describe a feeling of dizziness when leaving the water, and their complexion may become blotchy; they will feel weak in the knees and may experience a wild mood swing. Also, a shortness of breath is common, as is a loss of bladder control – and in extreme cases, extreme pain and then complete paralysis can occur.
Other warning signs include intense fatigue and bouts of coughing, but all of the above can be easily avoided by following these simple safety instructions:
Always drink large amounts of water to avoid dehydration when diving Phuket, as the Thailand environment is one that rapidly sucks liquid from your body, even though you are submerged all day in the wet stuff.
Always ascend slowly and use your dive computer just like you use your iPad or other high-tech device – intently, and all the time!
Do not dive beyond the no-decompression limits, no matter how tempting the coral or shipwreck. Ignoring these limits is the fastest way to become a wreck yourself.
When doing multiple dives in one day, pay even closer detail to the above safety instructions, as fatigue will always increase the chance of mistakes.
And if you do come down with symptoms of DCI or DCS, seek medical attention immediately, and don’t wait for the above symptoms to just “go away.” In many cases, things will just get worse.
If you are in a bad way, then the folks at HST can help. In cooperation with the Texas-based Sub-aquatic Safety Services International Recompression Chamber Network (SSIRCN), the Hyperbaric Services of Thailand (HST) have decompression facilities that can get you back on your flippers in no time.
The chambers (and there are at least 3 in the area) have a depth rating of 50msw to provide mixed gas or hyperbaric oxygen air recompression using for multiple patients at any given time.
Medical technicians can aid your visit to the chamber from outside the chamber, using the most modern of equipment to date. The chambers are all certified safe and come equipped with fire deluge systems.
And one last tourist tip on diving in Phuket: travellers insurance may or may not cover any accidents during diving, or treatment for DSI/DCI. Check you policy before you leave home!
For more information about the treatment of DSI or DCI, and about the facilities available, use the following contact info:
If in Koh Samui:HST Koh Samui at 34/8 Moo 4 Bophut, Koh Samui, 84320 Surat Thani. Phone: 0810 819555, Fax: 077 427377
If in Phuket:HST Phuket Town at 44/1 Moo 5, Chalermprakiat Ror 9 Road, Vichit, Muang, 83000 Phuket. Phone: +66 (0)810 819000, Fax +66 (0)76 612660