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Stories picked from the Headlines
Local men Andrew Bernard and Lance Bernard have been declared heroes after their quick-thinking actions saved the life of a drowning man. Without their help Canadian tourist, Marc Andre Beaudry, 55, would almost certainly have died.
The duo was returning from work when they spotted a large object in the water about 200ft from the shore close to Cheppes Beach. At first they didn’t realize it was a person, but when Lance, 21, went for a closer look he discovered a body face down in the water.
After shouting to Andrew, 27, to get help, Lance began pulling the body out of the water. Lance, also known as Sidway, said: “The man was face down and he had snorkel gear on and had a bag with him. I just pulled him out of the water as quickly as I could while Andrew was calling the medical center to get help.”
Back at the shore, Lance and Andrew discovered Mr. Beaudry was completely unconscious and they feared he was dead until they heard a sigh. Then Andrew went to work performing CPR - an action that Dr John believes certainly saved the unconscious man’s life.
Dr John said: “I think Mr. Beaudry was unconscious in the water and I doubt he would have survived if they hadn’t pulled him out of the water, given him CPR and brought him down to the medical center.”
Modest Andrew added: “We just did what anyone would have done, but it was a relief when he started breathing again. I’m just glad I knew how to perform CPR - it is definitely something everyone should learn.”
“When I saw him I said he’s dead, he was as white as Spanish cheese. They said no he’s breathing, get him inside. His blood pressure was normal, so was his pulse and respiration. His lungs were full of seawater though,” said Dr. John. Mr. Beaudry was put on oxygen, an IV and flown to the hospital in La Ceiba. During the flight Mr. Beaudry regained consciousness and is now expected to make a full recovery.
Mr. Beaudry was on seizure medication for epilepsy. The patient took in a mix of water and air as he was snorkeling. The next morning the patient come to and was talking. He himself thought he had a seizure too. Dr. Maradiaga treated him without payment which in unheard of in D’Antoni. If he hadn’t done this, the patient would not have made it. The man’s family did say they would pay for the treatment.
Mr. Beaudry decided to go back to Canada even though he was planning on staying in Antigua for four months after his visit to Utila. This way it would be easier for him to put this ordeal behind him.
Mayor Alton Cooper has praised the actions of Lance and Andrew saying: “Without their quick-thinking we would have had a tragic death on the island. They have proved how valuable it is to know CPR. We live on an island and it is vital that everyone should know some basic first aid skills – Lance and Andrew have proved just how important that is.”
Jose Midence died Thursday the 12th of January after doing a deep dive off Guanaja. He was diving with Nautilus Resort with his buddy who had been banned from at least one dive shop on Utila after conducting extreme deep dives.
Another dive shop refused the rent equipment to her for of the same reason. Normally she would do a deep solo dive whilst Jose would stay at the surface. After doing this a number of times the two decided to do a deep dive together. They went to a depth of 315 feet without proper training and proper equipment. The duo descended on a single tanks of air and did not use any back up, safety equipment such as a drop tank and did not notify the captain that they would be deep diving.
At 200 feet everything seemed to be ok. At 300 feet Jose only had 1000 psi left and probably panicked, the effects of nitrogen narcosis at this point would be detrimental to normal function. At this point his buddy carried him by his tank and dropped some of his weights in order to go back to the surface. At the depth of around 70 feet Jose’s tank was empty and the two made a fast ascent to the surface.
At the surface to two got back onto the boat and according to the boat captain, Jose was fine. He was even happy and very excited about the dive he just did. About one minute later he started to complain about dizziness and pain in his chest. Approximately another minute passed before he became unconscious.
They got back to shore where they hired a fast boat in order to get Jose to Roatan for chamber treatment. After the two-hour trip they arrived at the chamber where two hyperbaric physicians attended him. They put him in the chamber and started a table six, which is 4 hour 45 mins. Whilst he was being brought up to about 20 feet he stopped breathing as he had suffered cardiac arrest. He was given CPR in the chamber but unfortunately it did not help. When they took him out of the chamber they give him adrenaline and started defibrillation but it was too late. Jose was pronounced dead at 9.36 p.m. Thursday the 12th of January.
The UDSEC has guaranteed the funding of the municipal police for two more months. After that the organization might not be able to keep funding the police. The major will have a meeting with the UDSEC later on this month and he is positive that the project will be continued.
The land sales tax that has to be paid whenever a piece of land is sold is a municipal tax. It was put into practice on the first of this year with the purpose of sustaining the municipality and helping the fund projects. The tax is two percent of the commercial value of the property and has to be paid before changes in ownership of the property can be made official in the municipal computer.
Land taxes have dropped substantially in 2005. The taxes will stay at this level till 2010 as they can only be reevaluated in years ending in 0’s and 5’.
After the change of government Alton will look into long-term projects such as the roads to Pumpkin Hill and the Cayes. The funding for these road projects comes from the national government. The projects are long term as it is not sure when the money for these projects will arrive.
Utila is working together with Tela, Omoa, Guanaja, Trujillo and La Ceiba on the promotion of tourism in the northern part of Honduras, including the Bay Islands. This promotion will happen over the next four years both nationally and internationally.
This year the major would like to:
Complete the desalination plant project ( have it up and running)
Finish the sanitation project
Continue with the maintenance of the streets
Continue the paving the Camponado area
Get a small truck equipped with oxygen and an automatic defibrillator to use as an ambulance on the island
Repair the main dock on the Cayes around February/ March and repair the bridge on the Cayes
As of the 1st of this year student divers and leadership level candidates have to buy and posses current books and other materials for their courses.
One of the concerns on Utila about this was the amount of books that might be left by divers and also the old books that were being used till this date. In order to make sure that the books are not being thrown out and creating more garbage on the island Emma from Ecomarine dive shop is starting a recycling project.
Through this project she will try to make sure the books are collected and send of to the recycling company in La Ceiba. All the dive shops support this program and have agreed to pay a small fee for the transport costs. The UDSEC will have a meeting on the 23rd of this month to discuss the program further.
Till then you can n drop your old books at Ecomarine. The first collection will probably be the biggest as this will most of the old books of the dive shops. After this the plan is to send them of to Ceiba on a monthly basis.
Some travelers might decide to leave their books on Utila as they don’t want to travel with them. Some of the books might be donated to the schools. Will keep you posted on the subject.
February is usually the start of the whale shark sighting season on Utila. Whale sharks can be seen all year round but as the rainy season changes into the dry season, the winds calm down and the ocean calms down the whale shark is easier to spot.
There is still not much known about their migration patterns. In order to learn more about this the www.utilawhalesharkresearch.com website has been launched as part of the Utila Whale Shark Research Project. For a period of five years this project will focus on studying the population dynamics and ethology of the whale sharks that visit Utila.
By using the website important data can be collected which will not only tell us more about the whale sharks in Utila but also of those throughout the Caribbean and other places in the world.
How can you help? It is very easy to help collecting important data. Every time you go out on a morning boat with your dive shop make sure you have your underwater camera with you. If you don’t have one you might be able to rent one. When you get into the water with a whale shark try to take some pictures of it. (Try to focus on the dots behind the gills on the left-hand side). Not just nice as a souvenir but this is also what the project needs. The pictures of the spots are put into pattern recognition software and scanned to see if they match with any of the other pictures in the database. These photos are very valuable as it helps build a history of the spotted animal.
The whale shark has a life span of about 60 years so the picture might have a long-term impact on the research. So the more people that submit their picture the more chance of learning more about the different whale sharks and maybe even about individual ones. Once you have taken your picture you can upload it on the website. This information will then be shared with the ECOCEAN whale shark photo identification library. This way researchers can collect data and learn more about the migration patterns of the whale shark.
When you see a whale shark and you take picture make sure you also register some other important data such as the time, date and place you saw it and the approximate size. The average size of the whale sharks found last year was between 20 and 30 ft with most of them being young males. In four weeks they had 53 encounters of which 21 were identified as individual whale sharks. Since then another 4 whale sharks were identified from the pictures. Whale sharks do not just pass through but some actually hang around Utila. One of the whale sharks that were spotted in February last year was seen again 6 weeks later. Last year guidelines were put into place to make sure people do not touch and annoy the whale shark and to ensure it is done safely. Your dive shop will be able to give more information on these guidelines.
The UDSEC (Utila Dive Safety and Environmental Council) is a means for dive shop on Utila to implement and help out with island projects. These projects are not just dive related but are also land based. One of the island-based projects that the UDSEC put into practice last year was the municipal police project.
This project was started after a crime wave hit the island last summer. The Mayor appointed seven men to do nightly rounds on Utila to combat crime. The project has been very successful since it was set up. At the moment the UDSEC is struggling to pay for it. It has said that it will have enough money to keep the project going for two more months. The Mayor will later on this month get together with the council about the project.
All the wages and the initial costs of the program such as uniforms have been covered by the UDSEC said Steve Fox, owner of Deep Blue Divers. “At the moment we can’t afford it anymore. It basically costs us double of what we get in. We would like to see other businesses (bars, hotels, restaurants, etc) to become involved in the project as it is beneficial to the whole island.”
If more businesses fund the project the UDSEC can start looking at setting up new projects as this would free up some money for this. The council does not make any profit. All the money that comes in is invested into projects.
Another project that the UDSEC has been working on are the buoys. Numbers have been put onto the moorings so that it makes it easier to keep a log of the buoys, to keep track of maintenance. A number of new buoys have been put in at Turtle Harbour. The number system also makes it easier to get to the right dive site in case of an accident. Not every dive shop has the same name for the same dive site. They are also looking into buying oil mats to reduce the spilling of oil on boats and into the water.
At the moment most of the dive shops are part of the UDSEC. According to Steve Fox it would be good if all dive shops are part of it. ‘If all the shops are involved we will be the first island in the world to be completely PADI. This way PADI and others write an article about UDSEC’S PROJECTS By Utila East Wind Staff this and this will give Utila more publicity.” For more information about the UDSEC and their projects contact your local dive shop
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