Thai cave rescue operation

It really is a shame that its ending in a slanging match like this, i note the Thais have been extremely dignified as per usual. To use that slur is just disgusting.
 
It really is a shame that its ending in a slanging match like this, i note the Thais have been extremely dignified as per usual. To use that slur is just disgusting.
Agreed 100%. Back on topic, I'm still surprised by the self-control the kids showed. It's one thing to meditate, share food, stay as a team, not panic, etc, but it's taking it to a whole different level to conserve torch batteries so they still had power left after ten days when they didn't even know how long they'd been down there.

This could only have been down to the coach and the trust the kids had / have in him. Amazing considering he's only 25.
 
It seems very clear cut to me.

Elton Musk has defamed the Diver, Vern Unsworth, by libel. I hope he gets sued for this and that Vern Unsworth is awarded huge damages.

Just who the bloody hell does Musk think he is?
 
It seems very clear cut to me.

Elton Musk has defamed the Diver by libel. I hope he gets sued for this and the Diver awarded huge damages.

Just who the bloody hell does Musk think he is?
What seems clear to me is how much maturity and self-control the children have by comparison when things didn't go as planned, rather more seriously.

The international divers have shown the West at its best; Musk has done the reverse.
 
As well as the efforts of those at the pointy end, the supporting logistics of the rescue were impressive - and more imprortantly worked. Any ideas what drove these:- an SOP for a cave rescue; it's what Thai SEALS do; everybody involved got their heads together & red-teamed the hell out of it?
Could we have done any better?
What can we learn from it?
 
Any ideas what drove these:- an SOP for a cave rescue; it's what Thai SEALS do
The SOP or the cave rescue?

The reports in the Thai media are that the Seals had done neither but are now going to include cave diving as part of their training. It's not in their remit nor was it their responsibility, but it's a civil responsibility.
everybody involved got their heads together & red-teamed the hell out of it?
The chain of command and process was laid down following the tsunami, although reportedly nothing of this type / level was covered or practiced, and some of what was laid down is reportedly no longer functional.

The request and use of foreign divers was the suggestion of Vern Unsworth (now much maligned by Musk) who knew the caves better than anyone, knew the international experts (BCRC) and how to contact them, and was co-incidentally already going to the caves the next day anyway, and fortunately the governor (in charge following the post-tsunami SOP) had the sense to listen to advice and not be isolationist.

Could we have done any better?
Questionable how anyone could do "better", apart from the one tragic death, but I'm guessing the UK has more suitably trained dive rescuers who are nearer to respective cave systems, but I doubt the response from other agencies (electricity, pumps, etc) could have been better or quicker. Thailand also has a very different, more localised system of electricity, water, medical, etc, who can respond more quickly albeit it at a lower level.

I doubt the voluntary support would be the same, but that could always be bought instead - similar result, different means.
What can we learn from it?
Culture? Organisation? Logistics?

Sorry, I've no idea what the set-ups are in the UK so can't comment on the latter, while I don't think the former, which I'd suggest was the key ingredient, is readily transferable.

( edit: The Bangkok Post, and others, do actually point out some things that coukd have been done 'better', although not in terms of the operation but the lead-up / cause)
 
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I don't think it's been linked to here yet, but another interesting report about the 'truth' of the rescue is out, possibly based on more first hand information (in this report the coach came out 9th, which if sedated he may not even have known).
 
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Thai farmers refuse cave rescue flood damage compensation

From the same sources as John G's post #869 - 19 farmers evidently don't want merit to be tainted by compensation.

Personally, I'd be encouraging them to take the cash if only so that they'd be in a position to help again should something similar recur.
I suspect it has rather more to do with their wanting their 15 minutes of fame (similar stories, with photos and names, have been in Thai Rath, Bkk Post, etc) and their blue hats and yellow scarves - the merit's the same as it's the intention that counts, and they could always have quietly given the money to the temple or the school, but that's not 'Thai style'.

Westerners don't have a monopoly on wanting to be seen to be 'heroes'!
 
It seems very clear cut to me.

Elton Musk has defamed the Diver, Vern Unsworth, by libel. I hope he gets sued for this and that Vern Unsworth is awarded huge damages.

Just who the bloody hell does Musk think he is?
Give him, his deep pockets and expensive lawyers the oxygen of publicity?

Or a studious ignoring.
 
The SOP or the cave rescue?

The reports in the Thai media are that the Seals had done neither but are now going to include cave diving as part of their training. It's not in their remit nor was it their responsibility, but it's a civil responsibility.
The chain of command and process was laid down following the tsunami, although reportedly nothing of this type / level was covered or practiced, and some of what was laid down is reportedly no longer functional.

The request and use of foreign divers was the suggestion of Vern Unsworth (now much maligned by Musk) who knew the caves better than anyone, knew the international experts (BCRC) and how to contact them, and was co-incidentally already going to the caves the next day anyway, and fortunately the governor (in charge following the post-tsunami SOP) had the sense to listen to advice and not be isolationist.

Questionable how anyone could do "better", apart from the one tragic death, but I'm guessing the UK has more suitably trained dive rescuers who are nearer to respective cave systems, but I doubt the response from other agencies (electricity, pumps, etc) could have been better or quicker. Thailand also has a very different, more localised system of electricity, water, medical, etc, who can respond more quickly albeit it at a lower level.

I doubt the voluntary support would be the same, but that could always be bought instead - similar result, different means.
Culture? Organisation? Logistics?

Sorry, I've no idea what the set-ups are in the UK so can't comment on the latter, while I don't think the former, which I'd suggest was the key ingredient, is readily transferable.

( edit: The Bangkok Post, and others, do actually point out some things that coukd have been done 'better', although not in terms of the operation but the lead-up / cause)
Not disagreeing but I think there was an impressive amount of volunteers following the Grenfell fire, though I'm not able to say how the organisation of them compares to the cave rescue. Someone else will no doubt be better able to answer.

I've never heard of a shortage of volunteers in any UK situation.
 
A couple more articles from the UK press:

"
They were taking a rest in the tents erected in front of the Tham Luang caves at the end of a gruelling day’s diving when they learnt the terrible news.

“Someone came over,” Ivan Karadzic recounted. “He said, ‘Did you hear what happened? Saman is dead.’”

Saman Kunan, 38, was a former Thai navy frogman who had perished underwater in the caves that day as he took part in the attempt to rescue the 12 local boys and their football coach who had been trapped by floods. The boys had been found four days earlier but no one was yet sure how they could be brought out alive.


The rescued boys and their coach with a picture of Saman Kunan, the Thai navy diver who died trying to save them on July 6. They were not told of his death until Saturday
“It made the whole thing much more serious,” Mr Karadzic said. “This was not just another diver. For me, the gravity of the situation multiplied. If a well-trained military diver can die, then I can die too. For us as civilians, it told us, ‘This is real.’ ”

In the days since the rescue of the young footballers much has been learnt about some of the men who extracted them: the expert British cave divers who planned and led the operation and the Thai navy frogmen who provided most of the manpower. But one group has received little attention: the motley team of scuba instructors and amateur diving enthusiasts from all over the world who answered the call to help with the rescue.

They came from Belgium, Canada and France, as well as Thailand, bringing with them specialist equipment unfamiliar even to military divers, much of which was lost in the caves when they flooded dramatically after the last of the boys was freed. And, along with the Thai frogmen, it was they, not the American commandos, who spearheaded the operation to save the boys.

Among them were Mr Karadzic, a 44-year-old Dane, and his Finnish friend and business partner, Mikko Paasi, 43. They teach diving on the island of Koh Tao off Thailand’s east coast, and are volunteers for the local rescue service; both have dived in caves in Thailand and Indonesia. When word came that specialist equipment would be needed for the rescue they hastened to the other side of the country.

From the moment they entered the cave they realised that these were conditions like none they had encountered before. The challenge was not great depths of water but the horizontal distances to be covered underground before diving even began, in the most difficult conditions.

“When I went in there, I thought, ‘My God, this is really tough’,” Mr Karadzic said. “Steep inclines and incredibly muddy. I slipped many times and I was exhausted. It was incredibly challenging.”

The water in flooded caves that has been filtered through limestone and undisturbed for thousands of years is typically clear, but this was a normally dry cave, recently flooded, and the mud and detritus in the water made it completely opaque. “When you turned your lamp on underwater the only difference it made was to turn the black to yellow,” Mr Paasi said. “If you held your hand to your mask you could just make out your own fingernails — nothing more.”

However, they found themselves with an advantage over the Thai and American military divers. “They have awesome equipment and training,” Mr Karadzic said. “They are huge, strong guys. But they are soldiers and they don’t train for caves for the simple reason that no one would ever be stupid enough to invade one.”

Eventually the decision was made to extract the boys through the flooded passageways. The day before the operation began, the 100 or so divers who would be inside the caves took part in what the US military calls a rock drill, an acting out of the steps to be taken by each of the participants on a large-scale diagrammatic model of the terrain, recreated with plastic water bottles.

“It’s one thing to know what you’re supposed to be doing on paper,” Mr Karadzic said, “it’s another thing to see it and to act the whole thing out. We repeated that drill several times so everyone knew what they were doing.”

The following day, they went into action. Mr Paasi and Claus Rasmussen, a Danish diver, were positioned at the jokingly named “Pattaya Beach”, a stretch of muddy sand one dive away from the chamber in which the boys were stuck. Mr Karadzic and Erik Brown, his Canadian friend, were in the preceding chamber.

Their job was to help the British divers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen as they brought the boys through and then to strap them on to stretchers to be carried over the unflooded, but perilously rocky, sections. They had to wait for hours, standing in cold water, sometimes up to their shoulders.

“I saw a little yellow glow in the water,” Mr Karadzic said. “I didn’t know what would come out. Then I saw the British diver and the kid, and the kid had oxygen bubbles coming from him so I knew that he was breathing and that it was OK.”

Mr Paasi said: “I blocked everything out while it was going on. I never looked into anyone’s eyes or asked anyone’s name. It was pure focus. There wasn’t room for any emotions.”

The boys had been sedated but were conscious, and the two men talked to them calmingly in basic Thai.

The physical demands of the operation were enormous. After the first day Mr Karadzic had to pull out on doctor’s orders, having had exhaustion and dehydration diagnosed. Mr Paasi had trench foot and now suffers from skin rashes and ear infections caused by fine silt particles in the water.

Moments after the last of the trapped boys was freed, they witnessed the final drama — a spurting of water from a ruptured pipe and the sudden failure of the pumps, causing a surge in water levels. They fled the cave, leaving behind much of their valuable equipment.

“It was so strange that it happened just moments after they were all out,” Mr Paasi said. “It was as if the goddess of the cave was saying, ‘You got the kids out, now this place is mine again.’ ”
 
Thai cave rescue: passion and pride as Wild Boars football club returns to pitch

Nopparat Khantavong, head coach of the Wild Boars football team, talking to his players during a training session


It was the penultimate game of the local league and the Wild Boars seniors — the same club for which the 12 rescued boys played — were 2-0 down at half-time.

Nopparat Kanthawong, the head coach, gathered the teenagers round and calmly but firmly gave them a talking to. “Speed up. Move faster, faster, don’t leave a big gap and don’t be afraid — even if we draw, it’s fine,” Coach Nop, as he is affectionately known, said.

They split up and he went back to the sidelines, arms folded over his small protruding belly, a set of bejewelled fingers characteristically wrapped around his phone. For a local game between teenagers the atmosphere and sense of excitement was striking. Music was blaring from loudspeakers.

It was the first league game since the younger squad and their coach found themselves at the heart of a global rescue mission. All 24 teams stopped playing in solidarity.

In Mae Sai, a small town in northern Thailand with large Burmese, Christian and Muslim communities, along with stateless children, football is more than just a game. The pitch is a place where boys and girls meet as equals, friends and rivals.

The porous border that separates Mae Sai from Tachileik in Burma acts as a medium through which sex and drugs are commonly traded commodities. Football provides an alternative career path.

“Without football most young people would be tempted to do bad things and get involved in drugs,” Saard Sangrun, a 22-year-old footballer who plays for a rival team, said. “Football takes us away from things like that.”

The dream is to one day play for one of the bigger league teams, Sangrun added.

In the final minutes of the game Supakit Prakaihong, a 17-year-old midfielder feeling boosted by the rescue mission of his club-mates, as he will later make clear, whacked a low ball into the back of the net. The team roared but Coach Nop remained impassive, serious and focused. In the end they lost 3-1, but he was proud of their performance.

These qualities have earned him the respect of parents and children alike. While the young squad and their coach were missing in the cave, he acted as a contact point for many of the families, relaying information among them and trying to keep them calm.

The Wild Boars academy, founded in 2016 and self-funded, is Coach Nop’s life. He will feel immense pride when the juniors are back on the pitch and said that he has plans to hold a welcome party for them, either at the stadium or at the club.

“Right now I am dedicating all my life to them,” he said.
 
Dr Richard Harris and his dive partner Dr Chris Challen were both granted diplomatic immunity for the duration of the rescue / their visit, reportedly at the request of the Australians.

Dr Challen is a retired vet.

(2nd edit: depending on the source, the diplomatic immunity was either to Dr Harris and Dr Challen, or Dr Harris and two Australian medical assistants / divers)

Edit: assorted bits and pieces:

  • Merit making and services have been held at the cave.
  • The cave is closed indefinitely, as it usually should be for the rainy srason. A large amount of equipment (tanks, pipes, cables, etc) was left behind when the pumps stopped working immediately after the rescue, which is due to be recovered after the rains in a few months.
  • The air / oxygen pipe to the boys' chamber never worked.
  • The team have said they will not accept outside funding.
  • Vern Unsworth has said "it isn't finished".
 
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“Without football most young people would be tempted to do bad things and get involved in drugs,” Saard Sangrun, a 22-year-old footballer who plays for a rival team, said. “Football takes us away from things like that.
A very valid observation.

Thailand, unfortunately, has a major drugs problem and sport (primarily football, volleyball and takraw) is the alternative for many.

Most villages, equally fortunately, have a 'Coach Nop' or 'Coach Ek' who give up their time to coach the teams and give them and other kids an alternative.
 
Not disagreeing but I think there was an impressive amount of volunteers following the Grenfell fire, though I'm not able to say how the organisation of them compares to the cave rescue. Someone else will no doubt be better able to answer.

I've never heard of a shortage of volunteers in any UK situation.
Don't get me wrong, @Taffd, I'm not knocking the Brits - look at the RNLI, mountain (and cave) rescue and countless other voluntary organisations that do everything from clear canals to train guide dogs.

What I'm suggesting is that the type of help given and the numbers who give it is rather different - most Thais don't have the same money to support charities, although plenty do, so they help out in kind. While I'm sure many turned out for Grenfell, I doubt you got several thousand turning out for the area cleaning, happy to be organised and told what to do - it's a different culture.

When I mentioned in another thread, for example, that Thailand has such a number of 'rescue' volunteers that you're unlikely to wait more than five or ten minutes at the outside after an accident (of which there equally plenty!) for one to turn up, however far outside the town you are, it was met with a chorus of 'I wouldn't want to go to hospital in the back of a pick-up'. Well, horses for courses; I'm not saying one's any better than the other - just different.
 
Dr Richard Harris and his dive partner Dr Chris Challen were both granted diplomatic immunity for the duration of the rescue / their visit, reportedly at the request of the Australians.

Dr Challen is a retired vet.

(2nd edit: depending on the source, the diplomatic immunity was either to Dr Harris and Dr Challen, or Dr Harris and two Australian medical assistants / divers)
Does Thai law hold rescuers responsible for any further injury that casualties suffer as a result of rescue attempts? I know that in some states of the US, it is illegal to carry out any medical treatment, including first aid, unless you are a licenced medical professional. Would this be designed to get around a similar Thai law?
 

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