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Multi-agency training day

From time to time we take part in ‘Multi-Agency Training Days’. These are full-scale tests of our systems and processes; they help ensure that the various agencies involved can effectively co-ordinate the response to different emergencies.

Decompression Illness Treatment Scenario

The day started with a call from a Police Dive Supervisor advising us of an incident; one of their divers had a rapid, uncontrolled ascent from a depth of 22 metres. Decompression Illness treatment was required quickly; the Police had informed the Coast Guard and a Sea King helicopter had been dispatched for pick-up.

This call was received by the Duty Supervisor at London Hyperbaric Medicine  based at Whipps Cross University Hospital.

Seaking landing in Epping Forest.

Seaking landing in Epping Forest.

Team clearing the area looking for foreign objects

Team clearing the area looking for foreign objects

Diving Emergency – A Logistical Response

When we receive a call of this nature, advising of a diving emergency coming to us by helicopter, the Hyperbaric Supervisor must inform various agencies:


The police need to be contacted as they are responsible for crowd control at the landing zone (LZ) in Epping Forest; this is a public area that’s well used during summer months with picnicking families.


Ambulance crews need to be on site to transport the patient from the LZ to Whipps A+E

Forest Rangers

Epping forest rangers will open up the locked gates around the area to allow access for the ambulance and police, they also help with clearing the area.

Hyperbaric Crew

The hyperbaric crew need to be mobilised to get the chamber ready to receive the patient.

This all needs to be done in a very short space of time; a Sea King helicopter can fly from the South coast to the LZ in about 30 minutes.


The whole exercise can be stressful but also very rewarding when everything goes like clockwork just as it did on this day. The outcome was that the patient was transferred efficiently with no problems and minimal disruption.