“The shocker is that the injured diver was not evacuated to Barbados until the next morning – after additional serious damage happened overnight.”
“Harlequin has offered no support to injured dive instructor Michael Richards…”
Harlequin and St. Vincent news media say not a word about this story…
An experienced diving instructor at Harlequin’s Buccament Bay was evacuated to Barbados for critical care after he was seriously injured on the weekend of November 16, 17, 2013.
From what we’ve been able to gather, Bajan Michael “Richie” Richards fell unconscious after a dive and was taken to Milton Cato Hospital: but the shocker is that he was not evacuated to Barbados until the next morning after additional serious damage happened overnight.
Diving friends and co-workers are incensed and say that Richie should have been evacuated on an emergency basis right away because St. Vincent does not have a re-compression chamber, so by the time any further symptoms became apparent it would be too late. Any diver knows that unconsciousness within a few hours of a dive is a critical indicator of decompression sickness and serious injuries possibly already done. A gas embolism (“air bubble”) in the brain or heart can kill or maim for life, and if a diver falls unconscious within a few hours of a dive, it is immediately a critical situation even if the victim regains consciousness and appears to have no other symptoms such as joint pain. Dive physicians worldwide agree on one thing: any sign of gas embolism and the diver should get moving towards a hyperbaric chamber immediately by the safest possible means.
Some of Richie’s friends and divers in general are pointing to a statement on Barbados Free Press by Kay Wilson, the owner of Indigo Watersports Ltd., as proof that Richie’s condition was not taken seriously at the time.
Ritchie’s employer Kay Wilson said…
“The following morning it became apparent that his injuries were more severe than anyone could have expected and he was transported with hours to Barbados for treatment.”
One diving colleague told Barbados Free Press “The wrong decisions were made at each step until it was too late. Richie is facing months of treatment and may not fully recover. Immediate evacuation and treatment could have made the difference and probably would have made a big difference in the seriousness of his injuries.”
Richie’s friends are also concerned that he has no insurance and that Wilson stated his dive was “after work”. Divers quite correctly point out that diving illnesses and injuries are often cumulative from multiple dives, and that the earlier work dives that very day were certainly part of the problem. They see Wilson’s statement as a poor attempt to shift liability away from Richie’s employer. They also question why a diving company would not have proper insurance for their diving instructors and students to get them quickly to a chamber the moment a problem happens.
Did Richie have a working dive computer? Was it supplied by the employer? What standards does his employer insist on? Are those standards really enforced or does the work schedule override safety? Does the employer monitor dive logs against work schedules and classes? What was his schedule for the past three months? As a working diver, did the employer arrange medical supervision and regular checkups?
No Ms. Wilson: this is not as simple as “Ritchie was diving after work”.
Barbados Free Press hopes that Richie recovers quickly. As usual, should Kay Wilson or anyone wish to say anything to our readers we would be happy to feature their comments in an article and give it the same prominence.
Further information about hyperbaric chambers and treatment in Barbados and St. Lucia:
BADASS – Barbados Divers Association
Iyanola Dive Ventures – St. Lucia Hyperbaric Center
Here are some of the exchanges about Michael ‘Richie’ Richards that happened at Barbados Free Press:
A prayer for Richie of Indigo Dive.
Submitted on 2013/11/20 at 2:25 pm
The divers name is Michael Richie Richards, he is currently in hospital in Barbados, he has no medical insurance nor will he receive sick pay.
We thank Kay Wilson for her clarification but are saddened by the fact that it took posters on this site to highlight the tragic incident.
Sadly there are differing versions surrounding the events, however the priority for all concerned is to pray for Richie and his family and hope he makes a full recovery.
Ms. Wilson would be well aware of the problems associated with Buccament Bay. There are no trained first aiders employed by Harlequin at Buccament Bay and the Resort doctor is in fact a local doctor who can be called to the Resort on an as needed basis.
In other countries a full HSA investigation would be conducted after such an accident and diving operations suspended pending an initial report at least on the cause of the accident.
It would probably be too much to ask either K Wilson or Buccament Bay to provide details of the insurance cover and the insurance company name for independent verification. Or is this covered by an NDA.
We are also saddened that Harlequin have made no statement with respect to the accident nor have they offered any support to Michael Richards.
Kay Smith was seen in photographs assisting with passing buckets of water to help put out the fire at Buccament Bay a year ago.
signed: A prayer for Richie of Indigo Dive.
From Kay Wilson of Indigo Dive
Dear Sir / Madam,
My name is Kay Wilson, I am the owner of Indigo Watersports Ltd.
My team and I have been devastated by aftermath of Richie’s accident, and have supplied all of the support that we could in order to assist Richie and his family during this very trying time.
I would like to clarify a few points;
Richie and his dive companion decided to take a dive on their own time afterwork.
Richie passed out following his second dive. His dive buddy immediately got him to the Buccament Bay Resort and raised the alarm. His colleagues, the resort security and resort doctor assisted Richie once brought to shore.
He was transported quickly to Milton Cato Hospital where he received first class care by the hospitals medical professionals.
Richie appeared to respond well to the treatment and gave no indication that he would require anything more than an overnight stay.
The following morning it became apparent that his injuries were more severe than anyone could have expected and he was transported with hours to Barbados for treatment. Richie is currently with his family in Barbados where his treatment continues, and we are hopeful that he will make a full recovery.
In the ten years that Indigo has been in business we have had an exemplary safety record. As part of our service to Buccament Bay Resort we are required to have Public Liability Insurance policy in place.
I know that RIchie and his family will be heartened by the support shown for him during this time by the participants of this online community, however may I ask that anyone wishing to confirm Richie’s status contact me directly so that I may put you in touch with his family.
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Submitted on 2013/11/20 at 1:19 am
If he was diving under the supervision of Indigo dive he would have been covered. Indigo dive pulled out of BB due to non payment, sound familiar?
Submitted on 2013/11/19 at 9:57 pm
If a fund is started four Richie I should be happy to contribute.
I wonder if the companies that provide trip insurance are aware that they just might be responsible for guest mishaps since it would be totally impossible to get anything from Harlequin.
As a matter of fact Gonsalves should shut BB down until they provide proof of coverage. As an aside why didn’t Comrade Gonsalves fly Richie to Havana where he seems toy have pretty good political connections? Surprisingly Cuba does have world class medical facilities.
A prayer for Richie of Indigo Dive.
Submitted on 2013/11/19 at 9:16 pm
Another year has passed and another batch of awards is being proposed for the Resort which has supposedly redefined luxury in the Caribbean.
These new nominations are in respect of the sporting academies located at Buccament Bay.
But before we continue maybe we should take time out and pray for Richie from Indigo Dive, the Buccament Bay dive school. Richie was seriously injured in a diving accident over the weekend. Sadly the lack of insurance cover by both Buccament Bay and Indigo dive, and the lack of any immediate first aid at the resort meant that Richie was without adequate and vital medical attention for in excess of 16 hours. This is the time it took to arrange a medevac for Richie to Barbados.
I think it is time we pray for both Richie and his family. And hope that Richie can make a speedy recovery.
And it is time that Buccament Bay, The Harlequin Sports Accademy and Indigo dive provide the adequate insurances to cover their sports academy and indeed the resort, so that in the unfortunate event that another accident occurs and God forbid if it were to happen a guest, that the shambolic events of this weekend are not repeated.
We call on Dave Ames, Andy Townsend and Kay Wilson to ensure that adequate insurances are now immediately put in place and we call on Andy Townsend as the director of the Sports Academy to suspend all the activities until such time as proper insurance is in place.
It is sad that the management of Buccament Bay, Mr. Townsend or Kay Wilson are unwilling to acknowledge the serious accident which occurred out of a fear that it would bring additional, unwanted attention on the operations of Buccament Bay and Harlequin.