A tank surcharge fee has been created to secure funding for the purchase of a decompression chamber.
In enacting Rep. Joseph Deleon Guerrero’s (R-Saipan) House Bill 20-09, the new law would require scuba dive shop operators to impose on divers a $10 surcharge fee per tank. The collected fees would be used to purchase a decompression chamber in the CNMI.
The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer is designated as the expenditure authority over the funds.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed the bill into law last Jan. 5.
Right now, patients requiring the aid of a decompression chamber would have to be brought to Guam.
A decompression chamber, also known as a hyperbaric chamber or a recompression chamber, is an equipment that produces a high-pressure environment to treat compression sickness, which is common for scuba divers that ascend from great depths without properly normalizing pressures within their bodies.
Without gradually ascending to the surface after an extended diving session or after diving at great depth, the body forms a buildup of pressure due to inert gases dissolved in the body.
Divers who suffer from compression sickness may sustain long-term injuries or even death if not treated promptly.
The decompression chamber also has several health benefits associated with the treatment of conditions such as diabetes, carbon monoxide poisoning, or bacterial and radiation illnesses.
The new law goes into the books as Public Law 20-36.