KENSON'S health, safety and environment manager Andrew Dobson said he did his best to help diver Christopher Boodram get swift medical attention after four of Boodram's colleagues were sucked into a 30-inch pipeline.
The five were working at Berth 6 belonging to Paria Fuel Trading Co Ltd at Pointe-a-Pierre on February 25.
Kazim Ali Jr, Fyzal Kurban, Yusuf Henry, Rishi Nagassar and Boodram were doing routine maintenance on the pipeline when they were sucked in. Only Boodram survived.
Appearing befoe the commission of enquiry (CoE) into the incident at Tower D of the Port of Spain International Waterfront Centre on Tuesday, Dobson recalled helping Boodram shortly after other divers rescued him and brought him onto a barge on site at Berth 6.
"On our journey to the launch landing from Berth 6, he (Boodram) would have informed me that everybody in the pipe (Kurban, Henry, Nagassar and Ali Jr) were still alive."
Responding to questions from CoE chairman Jerome Lynch, KC, Dobson said he had some medical training which enabled him to attend to Boodram by cleaning oil off him and assessing his injuries.
Dobson estimated he was with Boodram for between eight and ten minutes before they reached the shore and Boodram was handed over to medical personnel.
In that time, Boodram told Dobson the other divers were still alive in the pipeline.
"What else did he tell you?" Lynch asked.
"Mr Kurban was right behind him in the pipe," Dobson replied.
Boodram was uncertain exactly where in the pipeline Kurban was.
Dobson said, "I believed he (Boodram) was more concerned about getting the point (across) that we should go back in there (the pipeline)."
He added that Boodram was shouting this demand repeatedly.
Lynch said, "He (Boodram) was obviously distressed)."
Apart from being unaware of what time it was, Dobson said, Boodram was conscious and fully aware of the incident.
"He was able to give his (phone) number of his next of kin, which would have been his wife."
Boodram gave Dobson this information, after Dobson told him he was was being taken to the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) for medical treatment.
Dobson said, "He also told me that she is a nurse at the SFGH."
Asked by Lynch about Boodram's physical and mental state after he was rescued, Dobson said, "The only expression I was seeing from him was a lot of pain."
He described Boodram as being frustrated.
"I believe if somebody is telling you the same thing over and over, and you're not getting any reaction, they tend to get frustrated."
Lynch said, "It happens to us all."
Dobson said Boodram kept saying, "Send back somebody in there."
He added that when Boodram was rescued, divers were in the water, not on the barge at Berth 6.
Dobson was not instructed by anyone to travel with Boodram on a launch heading back to shore.
He said Boodram did not tell him anything about the condition of the pipeline.
Lynch asked Dobson if he tried to comfort Boodram while they were together. Dobson said yes.
Responding to questions from attorney Prakash Ramadhar, Dobson said his focus was getting Boodram ashore for medical treatment. He did not focus on who was on the barge at Berth 6 when the incident happened.
"This would be traumatic for you also?" asked Ramadhar.
"Definitely, yes," Dobson said.
He did not know if anyone else at Berth 6 at the time asked Boodram about the condition of the pipeline.
Dobson said he did not accompany Boodram to the hospital, and he did not know if anyone from Paria or Kenson did.
Ramadhar said the condition of the pipeline was important information for a rescue operation. Dobson agreed.
He reiterated, "My primary concern was to ensure that he (Boodram) was stable."
Dobson could not remember if anyone else on site was talking about the condition of the pipeline.
Responding to questions from CoE lead counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Dobson said the migration barrier in the hyperbaric chamber (mechanical plug and inflatable plug) was not supposed to be removed as part of the work taking place at Berth 6 on February 25.
Lynch told Dobson, "Had you been made aware that someone in that chamber was removing the barriers, you would have said, 'Stop.'"
Dobson said, "Definitely."
Lynch said, "As far as you were concerned. that might impact on the air quality if nothing else, in the chamber."
Lynch asked, "Were you ever told that the barrier was being removed?"
Dobson said no.
Lynch asked, "Were you ever told that the barrier would be removed that day?"
Dobson said no, had he known this was happening, he would have immediately stopped it.