Jenny Firman - Underwater medicine

Running time
1 min 40 sec
Date made
Place made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


Underwater medicine is sort of a specialty area of medicine within the Navy just like the Air Force has aviation medicine and I just thought it was quite interesting. So I suppose, it wasn't that he said, ""Oh, you must go into underwater medicine.

It was more that it looked quite interesting and I liked the idea of doing it … we treated people in a decompression chamber and I often explain it to people saying, when you're diving at a depth and you're breathing compressed air, which is what's in an in a diving set, you're dissolving nitrogen into your body because that's what happens, it dissolves that gas into your body.

It's pressure and just like with a bottle of coke, so when you take the lid off a bottle of coke, they put the coke in there with the gas and it's compressed and they put the top on. When you take the bottle off, that gas comes out of the solution.

So if people rise too quickly, that gas comes out of solution and causes bubbles in their body and those, depending where those bubbles are, that can cause big problems or minor problems and that's the sort of thing that we would be treating in recompression chamber.

If you think about it, a recompression chamber, you've got someone whose, the bubbles have come out of solution, you want to squash those bubbles back down and that's what a recompression chamber does, puts a person back under pressure.

Bubbles get small again, then you let them up really slowly … and every now and then, there's an emergency when a diver comes up too quickly. Well, that's what you want to avoid, because obviously that could potentially be fatal to people. So you want to, you know, they're trained to come up slowly, but if there's an emergency, sometimes that's not possible.

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