Projects in Chile

Prevention and Treatment of Accidents – Training for Diving Assistants and Shell Divers in the Humboldt Archipelago

La Serena November 21, 2022. 


Between October 17 and 21, a training for the prevention and treatment of accidents was held in the bays of Chañaral de Aceituno, Punta de Choros and Chungungo for diving assistants, shell divers and boat staff of the Humboldt Archipelago. The training was run by the experts Dr. Jean Ruffez, Plongeurs du Monde and Louis Rebboh. All three belong to the Association of Health Education and Promotion (Francophone d'Education et de Promotion de la Santé-AFEPS), as well as by Dr. Jean Eric Blatteau of the Hyperbaric Medicine Unit of the Sainte Anne Hospital in Toulon. The French experts worked on a voluntary basis and even paid for their own travel expenses. Moreover, Dr. Paulo Aravena from the San Pablo de Coquimbo Hospital also took part. There the anesthesiologist is responsible for hyperbaric medicine .

The objective of this initiative was to train members of the organizations of artisanal fishermen in the bays of the Humboldt Archipelago in accident prevention and first aid, as well as in the handling of transfers to the hospital. This way awareness should be increased to prevent accidents or to considerably reduce the number of accidents and thus ensure the well-being of divers and their families.

The visit of the French delegation traces back to the contact with Philippe Robert (IUCN Specialist in Marine Protected Areas), who participated as a speaker in the meeting on coastal and marine protected areas with multiple uses, which was organized by Sphenisco in La Serena in 2019. On this occasion, we went to Punta de Choros and Chungungo with him, where he spoke with local fishermen. The project was sponsored by the Frankfurt Zoo.

Program of the Training Course

October 15, 2022

Meet-and-greet at the airport and transfer to the hotel

October 16, 2022

Transfer to Punta de Choros

October 17, 2022

Training in Chañaral de Aceituno

12 participants, three of the local medical center, divers, seaweed collectors and one firefighter

October 18, 2022

Training in the headquarters of the fishermen of Punta de Choros 28 participants, divers, diving assistants, seaweed collectors, boat crew and firefighters.

October 19, 2022

Training in Chungungo
20 participants, divers, diving assistants, staff of the local medical center, mayor of the sea

October 20, 2022
- Hospital San Pablo de Coquimbo, hyperbaric medicine unit French delegation, team of the 
   hyperbaric chamber, director of the hospital
- Department of Marine Biology, Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN) Dr. Carlos Gaymer andthree    
   members of the diving department of the UCN
 - Visit to the Faculty of Medicine, Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN)

October 21, 2022
- Evaluation and completion of the training in Chungungo. Fishermen, mayor of the sea, tourism 
- The Agrupación Chungungo Turismo Azul offered a sports diving course. The fishermen gave each  
   member of the delegation a book as a gift.
- Boat tour
  The delegation took a boat tour along the coast of Chungungo.
- Meeting with the Directorate of Maritime Administration 
  At the headquarters of the State Maritime Administration in Coquimbo, the delegation met Juan    
  Ampuero and Carlos Carvajal, who are responsible for divers at the Maritime Administration.

October 22, 2022
Meeting with specialists
The French delegation met Dr. Jorge Calderón, specialist in hyperbaric medicine in Chile.

October 23, 2022 
The delegation traveled from La Serena to Santiago.

Course of the Training

Before the training started, an interview was conducted with divers who had been affected by the decompression sickness. During the interview it was clarified how the accident had occurred, what factors played a major part, what symptoms occurred, how the divers reacted, whether they were transferred to the hyperbaric chamber and how long the transfer lasted, etc. Moreover, various fishing and shell diving practices were discussed.

Afterwards, a film made in Vietnam was shown, which shows examples of accidents and first aid treatments as they take place in the everyday life of divers: the victim suffocates, the victim bleeds heavily, the victim is unconscious, the victim does not breathe, the victim complains after the trauma. The documentary film was completed by demonstrations, FAQs and discussions.

Then prevention and treatment of diving accidents 1. during descent, 2. at the seabed and 3. during the ascent to the surface were discussed. 

Due to the participation of the physician in charge of the hyperbaric chamber as well as the medical staff of the local centers, it was possible to clarify procedures, point out misconceptions regarding symptoms, remedies and access to the hyperbaric chamber, as well as the need to visit the hyperbaric chamber regardless of the severity of symptoms.


1. An agreement was reached with Dr. Paulo Aravena, anesthesiologist from Coquimbo, to coordinate and edit the contents of the information sheets that will be given to the training participants.

2. An infographic was designed to be permanently displayed in different places in the coastal villages of the Humboldt Archipelago.

3. It is planned to offer a diving course in Chungungo with the French experts Louis Rebboh and Plongeurs du Monde.

4. It was agreed to develop and coordinate with the Universidad Católica del Norte (UCN), represented by Dr. Carlos Gaymer possibly with the participation of the Ministry of Environment, a course or diploma for the training of rangers/guides in marine protected areas and marine parks.

Nancy Duman B.

translated by Angelika Veelten



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