I would like to thank all of you who expressed concerns about our safety during the fire. Even with the loss of line power and phone service we did not have to take the Chamber off-line. With our high pressure storage banks we can run at least one full treatment without electrical power to our compressors and our backup generator can power our lights and monitoring equipment.
As most of you know, the fire was near Avalon, on the other end of the island from the lab and Chamber, and came very close to decimating the town. From the Fire Department personnel I have talked to, it got to the edge of the ball field at the school, destroyed one house & ten industrial/storage buildings. Avalon got the brunt of the fire, but the West End of the island got the aftermath.
The fire burnt down 50 power/phone poles along one route and 100 poles along the alternate route. The idea for the two routes was so a fire wouldn’t knock out all power on the West End. However, the 5,000+ acre fire did not understand that concept. The current status at the Wrigley Marine Science Center is that we have two large generators that are able to run all the equipment at the lab and Chamber. The estimate for getting the line power restored is sometime within two weeks. Until that time the generators will provide all the power we need.
Phone, cell, and internet service is the other problem. The estimate we received this morning is that communications may be restored by Monday or Tuesday of next week. The Chamber has been given a satellite phone which we can use to establish communications with the mainland.
The Chamber will still be able to be contacted via Marine Radio Channel 16 which we will be monitoring continuously until our Emergency phone is back on line. For Diving Emergencies on the island or on the water contact the US Coast Guard or Baywatch on Channel 16 like normal.
For Other Diving Emergencies Chamber contact the LA County Medical Alert Center at 323-869-0578. For Non-Diving Related Emergencies call the Avalon Sheriff Station 310-510-0174 and ask them to relay a message to us via Baywatch Isthmus.
We will then return the call via satellite phone. For all other calls contact the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Main Campus at 213-740-6720 and messages will be picked up each day.
I would like to express my gratitude to the non-resident Chamber Crew who were On-Call during the last few days. When the rest of the lab was evacuated the Chamber Crew were the only people allowed to stay. We had a small generator that ran the lab’s kitchen freezer, the Crew Quarter’s refrigerator, satellite phone & radio chargers, and satellite TV for a couple hours at a time; and all our cooking was done on a propane grill. It was an adventure and showed how well people can deal with adverse circumstances.
Note: This message is being sent from the mainland.
The USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber is fully operational and can receive patients. However, due to fire damage to the phone lines (which also route cell calls) all phone and internet service to the Wrigley Marine Science Center is down. We do have a satellite phone available to make outgoing calls, but the satellite phone number is an international number and quite expensive to call.
Electrical power has been restored to the lab with two large portable generators and electricity to the West End of the island is expected to be up by the end of the month or sooner.
Phone and internet service may be restored as soon as next Monday or Tuesday (5/21-22). In the interim: For Diving Emergencies Chamber contact the LA County Medical Alert Center at 323-869-0578.
For Non-Diving Emergencies call the Avalon Sheriff Station 310-510-0174 and ask them to relay a message to us via Baywatch Isthmus. We will then return the call via satellite phone.
For all other calls contact the Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies on Main Campus at 213-740-6720. Messages will be picked up each day.
Thank you for your understanding during this recovery period.
Karl E. Huggins, Program Manager
USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber
P.O. Box 5069
1 Big Fisherman Cove
Avalon, CA 90704-5069 USA
310-510-4020 Office - Temporarily Out of Service
310-510-4023 Chamber - Temporarily Out of Service
310-510-1364 FAX - Temporarily Out of Service
310-510-1052 Emergencies - Temporarily Out of Service