Another fisherman with ‘the bends’ is evacuated by CalvinAir; resident asks Sir Molwyn about local hyperbaric chamber

For the second time in weeks, a fisherman from the “Round South” area has had to be airlifted from Antigua and Barbuda to seek medical treatment for “the bends.”

On this occasion, 32-year-old Ruan Roberts, who was diagnosed with acute decompression sickness at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre, had to be flown to Guadeloupe.  

He had been admitted to the local hospital over the weekend, complaining of pain and numbness in his legs.

According to reports, Roberts had gone diving, and, upon returning to the surface, had begun experiencing light-headedness and weakness of the lower extremities, which made him unable to walk.

Responding to the crisis, MP Kelvin “Shugy” Simon sounded a distress call to Jamilla Kirwan of the Calvin Ayre Foundation and provided her with Roberts’ contact information. 

However, as arrangements were being made to deal with the already dire situation, Roberts discovered that his passport – required for entry into Guadeloupe – had expired.

Reportedly, due to the swift intervention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Immigration, and the Passport Office, Roberts’ case was fast-tracked.  He was therefore able to make the 10:30 a.m. departure, via CalvinAir Helicopters, on Monday, April 17.

According to Kirwan, although CalvinAir Helicopters executed the medevac, it was the swift action of these agencies that helped to make it possible.

MP Simon says he is aware of the urgency required in getting treatment for this kind of illness, and he is extremely happy that Roberts – or “T,” as he is affectionately known in the southern community – was able to be evacuated so quickly.

“This could have resulted in paralysis or, God forbid, death,” Simon acknowledges, as he wishes Roberts a speedy recovery.

Simon also extends special gratitude to CalvinAir Helicopters and the Calvin Ayre Foundation for their swift action to assist the entrepreneur and fisherman from Urlings.

Just over a month ago, in early March, CalvinAir provided similar services for Old Road resident Clive Pelle. Pelle’s wife, Skeeter, reportedly has informed Kirwan that, while he is still not 100 percent recovered, he is doing much better.

This latest incident has again raised questions about Ayre’s 2018 donation of a hyperbaric chamber – intended to treat decompression sickness – to the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre.

“What has happened to it?  It broke down and can’t be repaired?” a retired nurse asks.  “It seems strange to me that the man gave them the equipment, and they are still asking him to evacuate patients to Guadeloupe for treatment.

“Molwyn Joseph (the Minister of Health) needs to come and tell us about that!” she declares.

She adds that Joseph’s claim – made in Parliament on Monday – that the Spencer Administration had stopped sending persons abroad for medical treatment is “a dirty lie.”