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Thread: Rescuing the kids in Thailand in the caves.........

  1. #1
    Senior Member CathyA's Avatar
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    Rescuing the kids in Thailand in the caves.........

    This is so heart-wrenching. Everyone was so happy when they found the boys alive, but now it seems almost impossible to get them out. Yesterday, one of the Thai navy seals (retired) died while trying to help. I guess the oxygen levels are dropping in the cave. It's almost monsoon season. They would have to train the boys to swim, and then get them out something like 5-6 miles of treacherous tunnels. Seems like digging a hole straight down to them would be the safest option, but there's so much to consider. How awful this must be for the parents......to see their children and talk to them on the phone...........but the boys might not be able to survive bringing them out. It would be so wonderful if everyone could make it.

    I do wonder why they went into the cave. Was it just to have fun exploring, then the water filled up behind them? I found it amazing and curious, that the boys seemed so calm and gentle when they were found.
    I sure hope this has a good ending.

  2. #2
    Moderator Float On's Avatar
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    Yes, it was a team event. Go have fun in the cave. I'm a former cave guide and have done my share of wild caving and I imagine the guidelines aren't as strict there as they are here. Most caves here you have to get a permit and if weather conditions might be iffy the state can pull your permit. I've done overnight trips where you do the belly crawl or chimney crawl to get to a different level or through tight spaces. It's nothing to just "go have fun". The type of cave system they are in is difficult under best conditions and most of them went in wearing flip flops and shorts right at the beginning of monsoon season. So many wrong decisions. I'm afraid this one navy seal may not be the last casualty in the rescue attempt.
    Float On: My "Happy Place" is on my little kayak in the coves of Table Rock Lake.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tradd's Avatar
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    I have friends who are cave divers. I’ll post some stuff they’ve posted elsewhere later over the weekend when I’m at my computer. Diving these kids out is absolute last resort. It’s extremely dangerous.

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    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    I used to do a lot of caving, and have done some cave rescue work. It’s tricky, even in dry caves - a broken limb can be fatal if you are in the wrong part of a cave.

    I’m also a diver, and have avoided carefully doing any cave diving. It’s nearly a suicidal hobby on a good day.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Tradd's Avatar
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    From the diving section on one forum I'm on:

    The flooded sumps of that cave are literally some of the most difficult diving conditions on the planet. As someone mentioned in the other thread, the British rescue divers are the best in the world and just getting to the chamber where the kids are is likely pushing the limits of their training and experience.

    Training kids who have never dived before to swim out of an overhead, zero visibility, sideslung (or tethered to another diver), tight environment? I wouldn't assign it a difficulty rating so much as say it's just not an option.

    I don't know what their current plan is, but it would probably be much easier to bring them supplies and wait for the water levels to drop, however long that takes.
    It was a 1.5 mile, 4 hour swim for the rescue divers to get to them.

    Many of the passages are so narrow that it requires removing all the dive gear and pushing it ahead of you.

    None of those kids can dive. None of those kids can swim for that matter.

    It's a huge problem.
    FWIW I'm full cave certified and if they do a swim out I'm expecting some loss of life. The passageway that they have to get the kids thru is big enough for one person if they remove their gear and push it in front of them. In other words they basically have to send the kids thru by themselves and hope for the best. If something happens to one of the kids while they're in the passageway then they effectively block the exit for everyone behind them.
    There are really 3 options here.

    1) Wait out the water. The figure being quoted is 4 months until the end of the rainy season. 4 months in a cave is a loooooong time. And it's going to keep raining, which means their dry spot might not be so dry for long. It also raises other issues that make it less than ideal.

    2) Drill a bore shaft like a mine rescue. This is probably the "safest" option, but it's also the most logistically intensive. Getting a drill up into the mountains is not going to be easy. They weigh like, 30 tons, and depending on the type, require a staged boring operation. The terrain sucks, locating them topside sucks, overall the whole thing sucks. It would also take a decent amount of time to actually get the hole to where the kids are. The Chilean mine rescue took a month of drilling, and that's after they knew where they were and already had bore holes through which they were able to resupply the miners. That was to 700m.

    3) Teach the kids to swim out. You don't have to teach the kids to be cave divers. You need to teach the kids to equalize and remain calm, follow a line, and move slow and easy, purge a FFM [full face mask], purge a mask, swap regulators. Really they don't even need to know how to swim. It's not a massive push dive, it's sump diving, of which there's at least one no-mount restriction. That is the difficult part because you cannot control the kids once you get to the restriction. However, put them in a full face mask with comms so the Thai divers can talk them through it, and you maximize their chances of getting out alive. No-mount restrictions are no joke, but they're not impassable. We do it all the time in cave diving, and while I'm never super comfortable with them, I'm also not peeing myself at the thought. Given the right kind of support, training, and psychological preparation, the kids will be able to do it. Remember, most of these kids are half the size of the divers that made the push. That all helps. Hell, you'll probably turn a couple of them into future cave divers.

    They appear to be going with option 3 as they've already started teaching the kids how to dive. They're already improving the cave to hedge their bets against anything untowrd happening, running lines that can be used to pull as opposed to simple cave line, staging tanks along the whole route through the sumps, adding auxiliary lighting, etc. They're doing everything they can to maximize their chances of success, and the Brits are the best in the world at this type of rescue. If it's gonna happen, they're the ones that are calling the shots on how it goes down.

    My opinion is based on 1) being a cave diver, diving in squirrely places where you have to take your stuff off to fit, miles from air, 2) having family in mining who know a hell of a lot about that side of things, and 3) being familiar with those CDG guys, their qualifications, and their track record of doing stuff like this. You want to pull someone out of a deep cave, call the Finns, you want to pull someone out of a sumpy mud hole, call the CDG. This is a sumpy mud hole and they've got the best guys in the world leading the way.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Tradd's Avatar
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    From what I've read, it was some sort of a local inititation ritual to write your name in the cave. The boys went in a short distance (I read the coach followed them, and didn't lead them), but then the cave began flooding from a sudden rain storm, and then they went further into the cave to get away from the flooding. It seems that they spent a lot of time in the cave.

    I'm with Bae, I will never EVER cave dive. I have friends who do it on a regular basis. North Florida is known as "cave country." There are many caves in the limestone rock. I know people who regularly drive down from the Midwest to north Florida to cave dive once a month or more for a weekend trip. "Looking at wet rocks in the dark" (as cave diving is jokingly known) is not my cup of tea.

    Cave diving training is no joke. It's more of a survival course than it is a diving course. It took me about 3 weeks of actual training in the water spread out over 6 separate courses to reach Full Cave and that doesn't count the couple of years worth of time that I spent in between courses perfecting what I had just learned and applying it and gaining experience. I cannot fathom giving a 13 year old a regulator and giving him a crash course in no mount sump diving in zero visibility after having spent 9 days in the dark with no food. They had to pass thru a major restriction to access the room where the kids are at. A major restriction is one where you have to remove gear like your tanks and either place them or push them until you get thru the restriction. It's considered a pretty advanced technique and it's not for the feint of heart.

    I'm not sure how the full face helmets will work in that environment since they're pretty big and bulky. To be honest I really don't know if they make them in sizes small enough for kids or not.

    The problem with the line to pull them out is that if a kid gets stuck and drowns they will effectively block the passageway so nobody will be able to get in or out. That's one of the reasons why the Cave Diving Group (the British equivalent of our cave training agencies) advocates solo diving in caves.

    can guarantee it's being done as methodically as possible, believe it or not most cave divers are actually pretty methodical when conducting dives. The cave will weed out those half ass it.

    The problem at this point is that many of the hazards, difficulties, and dangers that the dive team faced they were able to mitigate because of years and years of experience. All those Thai Navy SEALs weren't making these dives they were there to support the small handful of trained experienced cave divers who were capable of pulling something like this off. This was exploration level diving and there's really no way at all to train or prepare someone for it. It takes a foundation level of training, years or experience, and significant knowledge to reach the level that those Brits are at. My experience with exploration level divers is that they eat, sleep, and dream about this kind of stuff; I just dive in caves as a hobby.

  7. #7
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    Six of them have been rescued, my FB newsfeed tells me. What a relief!

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    I found it interesting that they took the healthiest out first. I read that they are minimizing risk at every step, so taking the healthiest first minimized risk as they were being taken out by the divers.

    It feels opposite to what I would do as a nurse but this is a very unique situation.

  9. #9
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I would be tempted to leave the coach there to let him get out however he could...What was he thinking?

  10. #10
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    I read that the kids entered the Cave to write their names on the wall, which is a tradition. The coach followed them, probably to keep track of them all. And then the water started coming up behind them and they couldn’t get out. Hindsight is always perfect.

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