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12 boys lost in flooded Thai cave

Discussion in 'Search & Rescue' started by Dogbowl, Jun 26, 2018.

  1. Schwob

    Schwob Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Illinois
    You are correct of course and I gathered that much from the post I replied to, but could not resist the pun anyway. And besides, I would not be surprised if some crafty diplomats (Say Australian or British, but also othets) would not be able to find an opening to a door to somewhere / something in bilateral relations, that w/o this "events"and the tremendeous outcome***, would be much harder to open
    (*** both in terms of kids and coach as well as people from across the world coming together to help)
    ... Scuba diplomacy...
    and with that, while the immunity has been granted as backup insurance it might in the end possibly even really be justifiably in a pureley diplomatic sense...
  2. Medic4070

    Medic4070 Public Safety Diver

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Virginia
    I work with a PSD team. They typically dive surface-supply, so they have comms with the surface and other diver, and a dive sup and support crew monitoring their depth, time and air. If they're diving SCUBA, then they have to watch their own gauges and computer though, but may still have buddy-comms with the other diver, depending on what set-up they're using.

    But, I don't suppose many cave divers are diving surface supply, so I have no idea how they do it!!
  3. Jay

    Jay Need to dive more!

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Melbourne, OZ.
    Very interesting show. I was a little surprised that it seemed to be the American contingency effectively running it. Perhaps it's just the way they framed it.

    Have to say I wished the American PR lady wasn't in the show.
  4. JohnnyC

    JohnnyC PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: United States
    Mostly likely the USAF guys have the most experience in terms of crisis management, and the best global understanding of the situation. By far the Brits were the SME's on the cave and the diving, Dr. Harris was the diving medical SME, but the Americans were the SME's in terms of combined rescue operation and coordination.

    USAF PJ's and their support structure specialize in rescue coordination, their primary mission is to rescue downed airmen during combat, which often requires lots of inter-service cooperation, lots of data consolidation, and lots of logistical planning. They're trained in diving, high angle rescue, freefall and static parachuting, operating in austere environments, etc. It's a natural choice for them to run the operation, supporting the divers and doctors needs, and coordinating all of the available assets through the Thai's.

    They also have the logistical backing of the US military, which does a pretty phenomenal job of getting whatever you need, wherever you need it, ASAP. I wouldn't be surprised if Elon's fancy sub was thrown in the back of an Air Force C-17 as soon as they pulled it out of the pool.
  5. scagrotto

    scagrotto Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Hudson Valley
    Since most of you know little or nothing about caves, here's some general info.

    You've heard of snow, haven't you? Thailand has a much higher average temperature than my neck of the woods so the rain in Thailand is warmer, on average, than rain in my neck of the woods but the rain isn't the only factor in how warm the cave is. Depending on how extensive a cave is and how many entrances it has the temperature in the cave tends to be close to the average temperature of the area the cave is in. Here in the northeast caves tend to be around 52ºF, but with a lot of air movement or water flow the temperature may be closer to ambient. 79º may be typical in Thailand, but that's not very warm when the humidity is about 100%, you're dressed in wet (cotton?) t-shirts and shorts, and you aren't eating.

    Water was obviously flowing into the cave, but that doesn't mean it was flowing into the "entrance". A cave "entrance" is just an opening that's big enough for people to get in and out but there are always other openings. Water may first collect on the surface and then drain into the cave in many specific locations that may or may not serve as an entrance for explorers, but it also just seeps through the ground and enters through millions of tiny cracks in the bedrock. Long before there's a cave there's just water seeping through all of the tiny cracks in the rock. Given time and suitable geology the water enlarges the cracks and forms a cave. The water drains downhill (but can also move uphill as a result of hydrostatic pressure), and just like surface drainages, collects in ever larger streams. I'm under the impression that the entrance they used in this cave is in a downstream area and is, or is near, a major exit for water that enters from other locations.

    Caves that are formed by water dissolving rock (there are a bunch of other ways that caves can form) usually have dendritic drainage patterns, but for various reasons caves can have multiple streams flowing to different exits. Higher water levels can cause one drainage to spill over into another, so water entering in a particular area may not always flow to the same exit, and over time some drainage routes may be abandoned as streamflow is pirated to a lower route. That means there are often multiple routes from one spot to another, although in some small or simple caves there may be just one route between the only entrance and the farthest extent of the cave. It's possible that there are multiple routes from the entrance to where the boys were but I gather that either nobody was aware of alternatives or any known alternatives were worse than the route that was used. If there are multiple known routes I'll guess that the route the boys followed was the "standard" route for people heading to that area, though at some point rising water may have forced them to follow a route other than what they had planned on. Caves "backflood" when water levels rise and effectively move upstream (and uphill) when a restriction can't pass water as fast as it flows in. The boys may have encountered water flowing toward them from further into the cave and/or they may have had water levels rising behind them. At any rate, what definitely didn't happen was water flowing into a single entrance that's higher than everything else, filling the cave from a single point.

    I think cave divers tend to fall into one of two groups. Some start out as divers and then start exploring water-filled caves. That frequently happens because some of those caves are filled with very clear water (until you cause a silt-out) and may have very pretty formations. The other group consists of people who started out as "dry cavers" who wanted to explore beyond the point where the ceiling drops below the surface of the water in a cave that mostly doesn't require diving. Those places are sumps, and the goal is to get through the sump to find more air-filled passage. While sumps can be filled with very clear water it's often muddy even before you have a chance to stir up the silt. Compared to many caves in Florida and the Yucatan the passage dimensions in some sumps may be fairly small, effectively making it impossible not to stir up the silt. Also, a sump is just a low spot in a passage, so the water may be ponded rather than flowing. In that case there's no current to carry away the silt you've stirred up. I think the typical cave diver hopes they won't stir up silt and the water will stay fairly clear. Sump divers expect lousy, and even zero, viz. I've heard sump divers in the northeast US refer to a "Dacor tempered glass" dive, for that little bit of writing on old school masks that is sometimes the only thing they can see. That can be a normal cave dive for them because the dive is a means to an end. It's also common for sump divers to use a rule of sixths instead of a rule of thirds, because difficult dives and restrictions are routine.

    Anyone interested in a good read about diving and cave exploration might enjoy this: Beyond the Deep: The Deadly Descent into the World's Most Treacherous Cave: William Stone, Barbara am Ende, Monte Paulsen: 9780446527095: Amazon.com: Books
  6. JohnnyC

    JohnnyC PADI Pro

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: United States
    Here's an interesting documentary on cave diving in the UK. It gives you an idea of the type of thing that the UK cave divers do on a regular basis. It accentuates the point about why those guys were the best choice.

    Hopefully the link works. If not, just youtube search "Cave Diving Story" and the 4 part series should come up.

  7. Wingy

    Wingy Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 0 - 24
    Location: Perth West Aust.
    The boys and coach are now out of hospital at a media conference expected to speak within minutes.

  8. bowlofpetunias

    bowlofpetunias Oh no, not again! ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Sydney Australia
    Perhaps the Americans were front and centre with the media in this piece because it is a role they are good at.
    Seems like the other major players were less interested in bragging about how wonderful a job they did and trying to slip into the background. The non Americans who wound up fielding the media seemed to be the reluctant ones who spoke for the rest

    I've read every link posted here and in a number of other locations and Dr Harris and the Rest of the Aussie team downplay their role. They say the British basically had a plan worked out by the time they got there and it had a few tweaks in meetings as needed. The British divers are the ones who came in with the best Cave rescue training and background. The Ausies also had heaps of experience as well.

    The fellow that was listed as Dive operations commander didn't really come across as a knowledgeable diver in Four Corners.

    Honestly it seems to be it was a team effort and the Tia Mission Commander did a great job of allowing the right people to do what they were trained and qualified for. A good leader gets the best of his resources by figuring out skills and putting them where they are needed.

    Kudos to the entire team. Kudos to the Tia leader who didn't let ego get in his way of pulling a great team together and supporting them
  9. Bob DBF

    Bob DBF Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: NorCal
    Another thought, is by being the front, which is not a special ops usual position, they would take the blame if it went wrong. It may have been a political decision made higher up, to help our allies in more ways than one.

    As an aside, our @John C. Ratliff was a PJ back in the day and has a thread on it at: USAF Pararescue and Scuba Diving

    John C. Ratliff likes this.
  10. John C. Ratliff

    John C. Ratliff Instructor, Scuba

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Beaverton, Oregon
    I had a lot to say about this Rescue on a Facebook page called "Scuba Accidents and Risk Management." But rather than reproduce that post, I will look for a link and post it here. Concerning the USAF Pararescue contribution, take look at this article:

    Air Force rescue specialist details 'once in a lifetime' Thai cave rescue


    PS: Here is the VSS thread the I also wrote, which gives my input, plus information from Charlie Notthoff, about his participation in the Elon Musk contributions (they had two, not one, contributions).

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
    Bob DBF likes this.

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