By JADE RUSSELL
AGRICULTURE Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs Minister Clay Sweeting said it was “tragic” that a teenaged boy recently died from symptoms believed to be associated with decompression sickness.
“No parent should or would want to experience something like that,” the minister told reporters yesterday.
Last Friday, 16-year-old Randall Sawyer of Cherokee Sound died after he was airlifted to New Providence with decompression sickness or the bends.
The bends is an illness that arises from rapid changes in pressure while diving and can be fatal.
In an interview with The Tribune on Sunday, the boy’s grieving mother said she believed her son could have survived if the island had the decompression chamber to treat the bends.
This newspaper understands there is at least one decompression chamber located at Doctor’s Hospital - though it is said not to be operational.
Yesterday, Mr Sweeting told reporters that he had spoken to Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Michael Darville in regard to there being a hyperbaric chamber available when times of need arise.
Mr Sweeting explained that before now there were chambers that were operational.
He noted the Minister of Health has more specifics on the matter and that they should be able to get a hyperbaric chamber operational shortly to the private sector.
Being a former fisherman himself, Mr Sweeting explained he has witnessed people being placed in hyperbaric chambers because of decompression sickness. He urged persons to be vigilant and monitor their dive, especially in deep waters.
Additionally, Mr Sweeting also revealed to reporters yesterday that the government has no intention of repealing the Fisheries Act, 2020.
“I think fisheries is one of those sectors that should be protected for Bahamians. I’ve always been vocal in that regard. It’s one of those sectors, you don’t put the fisheries in the water, it’s not agriculture where you can take foreign direct investment and you can grow 50 acres. You only have access to what God’s provided in the ocean. So, it’s one of those sectors that’s proved to be a challenge over the years. We have a lot of other things that we’re trying to do in regard to food security, that we are being very aggressive with. And we hope to accomplish those in short order.”
The Fisheries Act has faced scrutiny in the past from politicians, such as former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham along with Cabinet Ministers Dr Duane Sands and Peter Turnquest who argued the legislation would discriminate against Bahamian women and their spouses.