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May 18, 2023

Coast Guard Rescue US National Suffering from Bends

A day earlier, the Belize Coast Guard also assisted a U.S. national who had suffered divers’ sickness while diving out at the Turneffe Atoll. Bends is decompression sickness that is caused by a rapid decrease in the air pressure that surrounds a person while he or she is engaged in deep-sea diving.  In this incident on Tuesday, Coast Guard personnel stationed at the forward operating base at Calabash Caye conducted medical evacuation and the patient was transported to San Pedro Town. The American national, who was at Blackbird Caye Resort, was handed over to paramedics to undergo treatment in the decompression chamber. Operations Officer Lieutenant Junior Grade Melissa Jones shares details.


Lt. Jr. Grade Melissa Jones

Lt. Jr. Grade Melissa Jones, Operations Officer, Belize Coast Guard

“We got a call from the resort requesting our assistance. With that we activated our quick response team who then did a medical evacuation. With that medical evacuation crew, there was a medic onboard who assisted and played a vital role in the stabilization of the patient from Blackbird Caye to San Pedro.” When our medic did assess the individual, it was a mild case of bends, it wasn’t severe. So all he had to do was maintain the stability of him as to the intake of his oxygen, monitoring that throughout the journey from Blackbird to San Pedro where he was then handed over to a paramedic from the Belize Chamber Project Limited.”



“Does this happen often? Do you guys often have to help people who have caught the bends while diving?”


Lt. Jr. Grade Melissa Jones

“When it comes to the bends case, we don’t have much of that incident; however we do do several medical evacuations which are within our area of responsibility that our quick response team always has a medic onboard to assist – whether it is from the northern area, the central area or the southern area.”

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