The use of hyperbaric therapies is usually linked to the treatment of persistent wounds, but it can also be used in emergency rescues.
Although it resembles a big blue submarine, the hyperbaric chamber often doubles as a lifesaver. It creates a, pressurized environment and releases pure oxygen. Super-saturating the body with oxygen helps accelerate wound healing. The same technology can cleanse the body of carbon monoxide in the event of a poisoning.
Lee Memorial Hospital is one of only a handful of centers in the state of Florida that still offers emergency hyperbaric services.
On the cusp of hurricane season, more attention is paid to improper use of generators.
Used outside to provide power, they are perfectly fine. But used indoors, they create a potential for disaster.
“People do not realize the affect of carbon monoxide poisoning,” says Capt. John Manson with the N. Ft. Myers Fire Dept. “They say it’s the silent killer because you don’t smell it or anything.”
Rescue crews are well acquainted with the dangers. After Hurricane Charley in 2004, the hyperbaric unit treated a record number of poisonings.
“We had a lot of carbon monoxide poisoning, a lot of people put generators on the soffit and therefore the carbon monoxide rose through the soffit and into the house,” says Dr. Robert Casola.
“We treated over 35 people in two days.”
The multiplace chamber is built to treat several people at once. A feature that proved lifesaving.
“During hurricane Charlie, we had families of six and seven,” Dr. Casola says.