Thai cave rescue a triumph of bravery, expertise and love

Cave rescues are not usually successful, but against all odds HOOYAH!!! was the cry from the Thai Navy SEAL which reverberated around the world.

The rescue of the Thai Wild Boars soccer team is a triumph of bravery, expertise and love.

I won’t argue with love, but I’d say compassion. Everyone kept their heads, no egos got in the way but the rescuers focussed what could be done, and what needed to be done in the circumstances. Feeling never got the better of rationality, blurring the judgement and enervating the rescuers.

I’d give a lot of credit to Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command centre coordinating the operation, who had just stepped down as governor of Chiang Rai but stayed on to do the job. His organisational skill must have been superb.

This image shows from The Guardian the technique finally used to get the boys and the coach through the flooded sections:

Each boy wore a full-face scuba mask with wetsuit, boots and helmet.

Two navy divers accompanied each boy, with the lead diver carrying the boy’s oxygen.

The divers guided the boys using a 8 mm rope fixed to the cave wall.

It’s just that this NY Times account, which I think more plausible, says that each boy was wrapped in a plastic cocoon:

That concurs with what we saw on television.

I thought of the water being still, but apparently in parts it almost had the force of a waterfall.

The article says that 10,000 people participated including 2000 soldiers and representatives from 100 government agencies. I understand 20 tonnes of stuff was taken into the caves by hand.

ABC 24 told us that there were about 750 media present when they arrived, which then roughly doubled. Volunteers prepared food. Not sure what they did for shelter. Certainly the world’s media followed every step along the way, but were necessarily held at arm’s length.

Then there was the young coach, Ekkapol “Ek” Chantawong, who kept the boys calm, sitting on a wet bank in the dark for nine days, with torches, licking moisture running down the rock wall when thirsty. He’s from Myannmar across the border, and trained as a monk for some time. Apparently he had taught the boys meditation techniques to relax them before the game.

    The head of the monastery where the coach of the Wild Boars soccer team trained as a monk says he believes the players would surely have died if it was not for Ekkapol “Ek” Chantawong.

    Prayuth Jetiyanukarn, the abbot of the Prathat Doi Wao temple on the Thai-Myanmar border, credits the 25-year-old with keeping the 12 boys calm for nine days using his training as a novice monk.

    Abbot Prayuth said he believed Mr Chantawong taught the boys techniques for staying calm that helped them survive for nine days without food, cramped on a dark, muddy ledge, unsure if, or when, anyone would save them.

A question has been raised as to whether Ek should be charged with negligence. There is also a suggestion he be granted Thai citizenship, which seems more likely from how he is regarded by those who know and trust him.

    The young coach effectively lives at the temple, not far from the cave, when he is not staying with his grandmother across the border.

    He mostly works as a cleaner but previously trained as a monk and still helps people to meditate so they can focus on what is important in life.

    Abbot Prayuth described Mr Chantawong as a man with a strong sense of responsibility, who spends much of his life doing and giving to others.

    He does not drink, smoke or go to karaoke bars like other young men his age.

The parents love him.

Not forgetting Saman Kunan, the retired Thai SEAL who died helping to save others. His relatives declined an autopsy, but possibilities are lack of oxygen or hypothermia.

And let’s try to ignore Elon Musk with his submarine thingie. He means well.

More on Brother Ek and a witness account from the boy Dom. His grandmother says he may spend time in a monastery to “create merit” in honour of Saman Kunan.

Apparently it is not uncommon for young people to spend some time in a monastery, just as we have the notion of ‘gap’ years.

I think there is more that we can learn about how other cultures work. Next week the Four Corners episode Out of the Dark may or may not shed some light.

27 thoughts on “Thai cave rescue a triumph of bravery, expertise and love”

  1. This story was to be the first of Saturday Salon, but it got out of control, so I enhanced it a bit and here it is.

    Not working today, but I need some exercise, so new Salon won’t be up before midnight.

  2. I was a dedicated caver at one stage of my life and actually learned to scuba dive in preparation for a cave dive. (The cave dive didn’t proceed because we couldn’t get the lights to work properly and didn’t want to take risks.) Found i enjoyed spear fishing with a snorkel more than scuba diving.
    Caves can be awkward enough to get through without water in tight areas adding to the complication.
    Agree that use of cocoons make sense for getting through tight areas with people who can barely swim.

  3. What a great story.
    I await Jump’s explanation of how a market based rescue of these sovereign individuals would have been better and cheaper.

  4. I await zoot calling for the banning of cave entry to protect us from ourselves.
    Or just a heavy tax on those wealthy cave divers to cover the poor ones.

  5. I’m pretty sure the key actors in the rescue did it philanthropically.
    I’m a little disappointed in the gender gap among the rescuers though, should have been mandated 50/50.

    Second thoughts, gender diversity would nowadays be something like 46/45/2.1/1.2/00.2/000.7/…..ohh forget it …..

  6. So, ignoring his handwaving and attempts to obfuscate, does Jump accept that situations like this constitute a market failure?

  7. Ha,ha, me hand waving and obfuscating?
    Good one zoot.

    Another quantifiable realised manifestation of market success is the pivotal individual rescuers had enough capital to perform the task philanthropically.

    Or perhaps you think the Cave Rescue Authority Bureau ( CRAB ) fully funded and unionised, would have done better ?

  8. Or perhaps you think the Cave Rescue Authority Bureau ( CRAB ) fully funded and unionised, would have done better ?

    You’ll never know, but we’re still waiting for your market based solution. Surely the invisible hand would have saved those boys much sooner than the Thai Government?

  9. Take it up with the Thai authorities, who initially employed Thai Navy Seals.

    A week into the search their efforts to pump rain water out of the cave were proving fruitless. They called for heavier-duty equipment and a contingent of expert cave divers from the UK, Australia, China, US and Europe.

    Source

  10. The success was because of it.

    The invisible hand is a term used by Adam Smith to describe the unintended social benefits of an individual’s self-interested actions.

    Zoot, I’m trying to raise your level of understanding on what Capitalism and markets actually are above your current level of ‘ two short planks ‘.
    Why the resistance ?

  11. zoot, I think your link gives a good account of how the bloke directing the rescue summed up and redirected the situation in relation to new information and the emerging circumstances. It was his flexibility of mind that made the difference.

    Apparently the Brits are the first and best at cave diving through water. There would be a separate story as to why.

    He had no difficulty in recognising the best and giving them the proper role.

    At the other end, the coach was brilliant. Essentially, I think, he convinced the boys that fretting about things they couldn’t control would be counterproductive, and their best chance was to minimize the expenditure of energy and wait.

    He didn’t teach that on the spot, it would have been part of getting the best out of them in soccer.

    I’d like to know how much “10bn cubic metres” of water is in relation to say, the Sydney Harbour. Decimals confuse me.

    A cubic metre of water is 1,000 litres.

    A Sydharb is 500 GL.

    10bn cubic metres sounds way too much.

  12. Jumpy/Zoot: The successful rescue was the result of a team effort that included people who were there because they were employed by governments and other relevant groups as well as volunteers who were willing to go into a dangerous situation. It would be nice if both of you accepted this instead of playing your normal games.

  13. When I translate 10 bn cubic metres to litres, and compare it to 500 billion litres (one Sydharb) it comes out that they pumped out 20 Sydharbs.

    Doesn’t sound possible.

  14. John D obviously I’ve done a lousy job, but that is what I was trying to get through to our pet free market ideologue.

  15. Good thing this didn’t happen in Australia, the rescuers broke so may Workplace Health and Safety laws they’d be fined into oblivion.

  16. Jump (Re: JULY 15, 2018 AT 11:17 AM):

    Good thing this didn’t happen in Australia, the rescuers broke so may Workplace Health and Safety laws they’d be fined into oblivion.

    Really? Is that your considered position? I say, what a load of codswallop!

    You still haven’t answered my question:

    But let me get this straight: Do you agree with my comments (at JULY 14, 2018 AT 11:29 AM) about “all that other stuff“? Or are you sticking with the notion “remove all subsidies and political interference and the market will prevail for the positive” and disagreeing with “all that other stuff“?

    “Political interference” through the decision to employ Thai Navy SEALs to search and then rescue the group, together with welcome assistance from an international group of volunteer experts, and volunteer support groups, appears to have saved the day. I don’t see how “the market” prevailed for the positive in this instance. Perhaps you could please explain, Jump?

  17. Jump (Re: JULY 15, 2018 AT 12:33 PM):

    Your link includes (bold text my emphasis):

    The BBC reports “Thailand was fortunate that an experienced caver Vern Unsworth has explored the Tham Luang cave complex extensively, and lives nearby…He was on the scene the day after the boys disappeared, and suggested that the Thai government needed to invite expert divers from other countries to help.”[19] Military divers searched the cave. A Thai Navy SEAL diver said the water was so murky that even with lights they could not see where they were going underwater.[20] After continuous rain, which further flooded the cave entrance, the search had to be periodically interrupted.[21] After four days, the Thai Navy SEALs were joined by a group of 30 personnel of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, and by British cave diving rescue experts Richard Stanton, John Volanthen, and Robert Harper,[22][23] who brought Heyphone LF radios borrowed from the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation.[24]

    Policemen with sniffer dogs searched for shaft openings that could provide alternative entrances to the cave branches below. Drones and robots were also used in the search, but no technology currently exists to scan for people deep underground.[25]

    Navy SEALs and policeman with sniffer dogs would not have been deployed without “political interference”.

    You still won’t answer my question: How does “the market” prevail for the positive in this instance?

    Your statement earlier:

    Good thing this didn’t happen in Australia, the rescuers broke so may Workplace Health and Safety laws they’d be fined into oblivion.

    …implies to me you think Australians in Australia would care about WH&S laws when people’s lives are at risk. I put it to you that many Australians would be focused on saving lives, and that doesn’t mean being reckless. I think you are using obfuscation to avoid facing how ill-informed your ideology is that:

    “remove all subsidies and political interference and the market will prevail for the positive”

    Your request:

    Show me a copy of their confined space permit and risk assessment forms and get back to me.

    This is a red herring argument (#8):

    A “red herring” is a distraction from the argument typically with some sentiment that seems to be relevant but isn’t really on-topic. Typically, the distraction sounds relevant but isn’t quite on-topic. This tactic is common when someone doesn’t like the current topic and wants to detour into something else instead, something easier or safer to address. Red herrings are typically related to the issue in question but aren’t quite relevant enough to be helpful. Instead of clarifying and focusing they confuse and distract.

    Bold text my emphasis to highlight what I think you are up to – avoiding the inconvenient arguments that you don’t want to face.

  18. No red herring GB.
    A government body can avoid safety laws but private enterprises can’t, that’s the reality in Australia.
    Totally relevant and consistent in this case and with my comments.

    In this case the private citizens with market produced technology and equipment prevailed where the military failed.

    ( it’s so difficult to talk to folk that religiously worship Government as their God that shall provideth, works in mysterious ways and in whom created all things. They could replace the word “ god “ with “ government “ in the bible and it aligns with their ideology. I have little time for that or any other form of religious zealotry )

  19. Jump (Re: JULY 15, 2018 AT 2:01 PM):

    I see you are still avoiding the questions:

    Can you please justify your statement “remove all subsidies and political interference and the market will prevail for the positive”

    How does “the market” prevail for the positive in this instance?

    And throwing in another distraction:

    it’s so difficult to talk to folk that religiously worship Government as their God that shall provideth, works in mysterious ways and in whom created all things. They could replace the word “ god “ with “ government “ in the bible and it aligns with their ideology.

    Where have I stated/implied anywhere that I “religiously worship Government as their God that shall provideth, works in mysterious ways and in whom created all things“? Examples please? I see this as both an ad hominem fallacy, and straw man argument, intended to avoid responding to my challenge for you to justify your original statement “remove all subsidies and political interference and the market will prevail for the positive”.

    In this case the private citizens with market produced technology and equipment prevailed where the military failed.

    How do you know if the military/police weren’t involved that it would have turned out the same way? “Military failed” – I think that’s a low blow – “failed” how? Because a retired Thai Navy SEAL diver died? Saman Gunan was on leave and volunteered his time as a private individual. Were you there as a first-hand observer or participant, or are you just relying on your ill-informed cognitive biases? I think the later.

  20. Geoff, ask yourself how many of those 15 logical fallacies you just used in that comment alone and if that brands you as a hypocrite.

    For the third time my comment you keep referring to was on energy policy not Thai cave rescue for goodness sake.

    But keep it up, this is why total free speech is imperative.
    But take it to the SS please.

  21. Jump (Re: JULY 15, 2018 AT 4:29 PM):

    Still avoiding my challenge for your justification for your ideology – “remove all subsidies and political interference and the market will prevail for the positive”.

    And still avoiding my challenge: How does “the market” prevail for the positive with respect to the Thai cave rescue?

    And throwing in another distraction:

    Geoff, ask yourself how many of those 15 logical fallacies you just used in that comment alone and if that brands you as a hypocrite.

    You are making another claim about me here on this thread. I challenge you to identify where you see I have made logical fallacies and justify your latest statement, as well as the others made earlier. Show me where I’m being hypocritical? Do you have the wit to do so, or are you going to just keep throwing in more distractions to avoid facing justifying your stated ideology – “remove all subsidies and political interference and the market will prevail for the positive”?

    It seems to me you make unsubstantiated statements, that then if challenged, you are unable to defend them with logical arguments and evidence – in other words, you just make stuff up. Perhaps you like the attention and notoriety?

  22. ABC Four Corners Out of the Dark was excellent, given the limited time to put it together.

    Leaving the boys in there for the wet season was not an option, given the problems of supplying food, oxygen and the risk of infection because there was no sanitation.

    The force of the water was highlighted, so given the frailty of the boys and the fact they could not swim, the only option was to bring them out as baggage.

    The only bits missing were, we could have been shown how the line was put in, and there was virtually nothing about the role of the coach.

    I gather the American military was responsible for logistics, which they are good at.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *