HYPERBARIC CHAMBER

The first walk—in Hyperbaric Chamber in the United States was designed Jaseph Charles Fischer at the Milwaukee County Emergency Hospital.

In 1928 Joseph Charles Fischer, chief engineer at Milwaukee County Institutions, designed and built the first walk—in hyperbaric chamber in the United States. The chamber was installed in theold County Emergency Hospital and used for half a century. Prior to this achievement, the only such chambers in use were designed like typical pressure vessels with Small hatches for entry.

Through the years the chamber was used to revive hundreds of individuals with carbon monoxide poisoning, and was used in the healing of patients with gangrene and senility, of patients who suffered strokes, and deep tunner workers striken with the bends.

Starting in 1936, Dr. Edgar End began studies in helium—oxygen compressors in this chamber, leading to a new diving record of 420 feet on December 1, 1937 by Max Gene Nohl. The earlier record had been set by Frank Crilly, who in 1914 dove to 306 feet for the Navy at Pearl Harbor. The chamber was also used for other pioneer work in hyperbaric medicine, including open heart surgery in an oxygen atmosphere.

In 1937 the chamber was used to develop SCUBA gear, five years before Cousteau’s “Aqualung.”In 1942 the first tables for diver decompression were published based on work in this chamber. They greatly shortened the time required for recovery after a dive.

During World War II, the chamber was converted to vacuum applications for study of the affects of flight at highaltitudes, important because the aircraft of the day were not pressurized.It was also used in Navy tests that led to the manufacture of the Browne Lightweight suit and of frogman gear.

The chamber was 18 feet long, 7 feet in diameter and tested at 150 psig and full vacuum. It was built for an installed cost of only $5,000. The chamber’s service pressure was gradually reduced to 30 psig before being taken out of service in 1976 and dismantled in 1979. It was used up to its time of decommission.