The team that rescued the Wild Boars football team made up of 12 Boys and their Coach from the treacherous flooded Tham Luang cave in Thailand is a case study on bravery.
The audacious effort in saving the lives of the boys between ages 11 and 16 years as well as their 25-year old Coach teaches a life-long lesson from what would have been a disaster. The meticulous thought and plan that went into the rescue mission has one again demonstrated the solidarity of humanity.
The world stood still when news about the missing boys and their football coach filtered in. A frantic search for them began, but their rescue mission seemed impossible because there were several caves in the hilly area and rescuers were not sure where in particular the boys were. Nevertheless, they rescuers pressed on as the government and people of that Asian country did not give up.
This tragic situation brought divers from all over the world to help save the boys, including swimmers from United States, China, Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom who volunteered their services. The first divers went into the dark flooded caves, not knowing what to expect and whether at all they would find anything related to the boys, but all through, they were ready to sacrifice their lives to find them.
In the end, their ‘can do’ attitude and relentless spirit paid off. The boys were found! But that was the beginning of the test of their faith. The problem arose of how to bring them safely out of the cave. The routes running through the caves were narrow and treacherous. The difficulties surrounding the terrain in which they were trapped made it next to impossible to save them.
Reports had it that 90 divers, 40 from Thailand and 50 from overseas were all there to help. What was so special about this group of boys and their coach? They were humans and humanity responded, as they should. An entire community was formed at the entrance of the cave to empathise with the parents of the boys. Each life mattered and everyone did their best to make sure those boys and their coach got out alive.
Then came the idea that the boys should stay in the cave for some months until the water levels recedes. But Thailand was in the middle of its Monsoon season, with rains pouring heavily and threatening to flood the caves. This worsened the situation; the longer they waited the more the boys were at risk of getting drowned. Besides, oxygen level is so low in the cave. The boys and their coach were getting weaker and a hole had to be drilled above them to improve the air circulation. Again, water was pumped out of the cave to make rescue process easier.
The rescue team put their heads together to proffer solutions to the daring situation. Medical personnel and some divers were already in the cave with the boys to treat and care for them. This gave them hope. A final decision was made to take the risk, with experienced divers bringing out the boys in batches.
At that point the brave boys began to learn how to be submerged in water, as they got used to masks and scuba diving. The interesting part of it all was that the three main divers who volunteered to participate in this rescue effort were not trained rescuers. They only haqd the expertise of diving in dark narrow caves for fun, a sport that is frowned upon. But they eventually came with the same skill that became useful to save the boys.
It is also important at this point to note that the Thai Navy SEALS are not cave divers but open water divers. Cave diving and open water diving are two different types of diving. A retired Thai Navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, lost his life in the process of saving the boys and their coach. He had heard of the news and stopped by to help, but up consciousness while swimming out of the cave.
The doctor and three Thai Navy SEAL divers who were at hand in the cave to treat the boys remained in the cave until the last human was rescued. A great team work to be admired and copied. Glen McEwen of the Australian federal Police, during a briefing on the rescue, said six Australian police divers and one navy diver spent 75 hours in that cave, “moving approximately 20 tonnes of equipment through the caving system” at the end of the rescue when the water pumps were said to have failed.
In our view, this is a testimony of human endeavour and perseverance; a testimony to the celebration of life and that human life matters and all must be done to secure it at all costs, even if a life was lost in the process.
What are other lessons to be learnt from this selfless service? In the backdrop of random, meaningless killings in Nigeria this should set an example for us to follow, that we should cherish instead of destroying lives; that we should come together as a nation and say no to the herdsmen/farmers clashes, Boko Haram attacks, kidnappings and other forms of killings. The country needs more expertise and training of personnel for times of disasters and emergency situations.