2018 Rescue of boys soccer team from Thai cave system


Hi all… have we moved our non weather wildfire chat over here?

I’ve been following the Thai cave rescue as it progresses… that being my original SAR interest… Cave rescue that is. Being from Toronto we occassionaly helped out in the eastern states… didn’t have any really decent caves in Ontario back then… but we were active in the NE… It is far from over, and I don’t envy them and the decisions they may have to make… but I’m happy that they seem to be making every effort towards doing it safely… for subjects and rescuers alike.

Did you know....a little bit of everything

That was probably me @Doug4…thought I should get outta “weather” …

I am so happy they found them all alive, now to figure out how to get them out of there…as you say safely.


@TerriB Probably was a good idea, or a section of it’s own. Same thing if any discussion comes of the Thai rescue…
But fire season is starting up for real soon and looking at the news from California, Oregon right up through Utah etc… they are in trouble early this year… usually follow us. I see that they have identified the moor fires as peat… that is rough going… like I said in the other postings… knocking down the flames is the easy part… then come the handwork… it all has to be dug out to be sure… cold trailing it’s called here… not done until every ember is cold… on hands and knees searching with your hands… then let it dry out and come back later to see what still smoulders… Peat can burn real deep, we had a fire a few years back that was in ‘duff’ (organic soil not beer) that was over 2 m deep with mineral soil at 3. Needed a trench all the way around the fire to be sure it could not get out. I would class peat fire as worse, but never dealt with one, but I have seen peat burned for stove fuel and it seems to burn for ever… and that was dried out. Each fire has it’s own ‘feel’ and each is different in a way… something always changes even day to day. Glad I retired a long time ago… up to 4 years ago when I moved down here I sort of ran a ‘volunteer’ foot patrol visiting party spots looking for untended and unextinguished bonfires…(legal limit was max 18 inches or 50 cm… in any dimension or all).
many were in the same spots and were easy… but every now and then they were not used… but a longer walk revealed new locations… not in clearings but in amongst the trees and brush, and much larger fires as well… often during fire bans.
Guess it is too hard to put them out for the partiers (not just kids either)… Local fire chief would come to help when asked… ha ha… but always wondered what I was taking them down with… duh… forest full of long sticks (tree trunks) and other things plus a bit of water… I always carried 1 litre for me… some times I would squirt a bit on the fire, mostly looking for hot ground to expose… sometimes if it was a serious hunt, I would carry my old entrenching tool which can be useful, but the handle is short… never found the forestry version with a long handle.

As for the cave thing… well people can learn to use the gear fairly quickly… problem comes with using it in the conditions… try just closing your eyes and do something familiar… like walk from a bedroom to the kitchen etc… no diving gear, no cold water and no strong flow of water tossing you around… now… you can’t swim and are under water but only see as far as the lens of the mask… start to see the problem with diving out… luckily they can use the time they have to try to condition the kids to the situation without being contained in a closed tube… with debris…

Time will tell, pray they get time to practice and that the survey teams find a better option to get out… hard to believe that cave has never been surveyed inside and outside… we used to consider where the cave was in relation to the outside topography… but to do that you have to know where the cave is… an they have been cursing the lack of any mapping at all. From what I’ve seen, water in caves tends to cut downward as it flows… this channel that they are in could be a lower level of an older cave… I heard that some of the cave rescue teams have been pushing out from various areas near the victims… sideways and up… and that a few teams have been looking at down trending passages from the surface… problem is that while drier, it can take years to link stuff like that up to the cave system below.

Thats enough for me right now… but they are the ones doing it and they will do what they can… Was interesting to see some of the guys I knew way back still involved… but that would be mostly the older ones.


I agree Terri…I’d considered moving over here and myself then forgot :roll_eyes: But I shouldn’t bother starting up a separate thread for it as it will be over as soon as the rain comes :pray:…but not for another week at least :roll_eyes: Then it will be flash flooding’s as a result of the rain running off all that burnt off part of the hill :confounded:

The helicopters flew in at 8:30 this morning…right on time :wink:
Going back to your question about trees, there aren’t any trees up at the summit but lower down there are some wind-breaking spruce/firs growing, they tend to be around farm land…and some of those are grown as an additional income at Christmas ;). And they’d probably go up like match sticks :unamused: The fire underground would have to come at least half way down the hill and under 2 stone boundary walls, a main 2 lane road and a few more fields to reach any major woodlands though :sweat_smile:


To be honest, I forget there are trees up there :laughing: Purely because I tend to go for the wide open spaces for the panoramic views and kite flying :grin: I’ve been up there every other day if it wasn’t for these fires now…but it would have been hot :sweat_smile:


Some how I don’t think that’s possible just now, the ground’s hot enough to melt the soles of your shoes I believe. Local farmers have cut the grass along boundary fences and cut trenches too in order to create a fire break and protect their property.

As for the “fledgling cave divers” in Thailand, you don’t really need to know how to swim to scuba dive. Health, physical strength and durability are far more important.
But the biggest hurdle for those who can’t swim is getting over any fear of water they might have, having their face submerged, and then getting accustomed to breathing under water through a full face mask (never used one myself). But they’re kids; they are a football team, they’ll probably take to it like a duck to water.

They’re clearly adventurous or they wouldn’t be in that cave. They’re a team so they’re used to tag teaming and taking instruction so they’ll adapt those skills. There’s absolutely nothing to distract their attention down their so they will soak up instructions like a sponge. The problem might be in holding them back, not letting them get over confident and carried away 'cos this’ll be the adventure of a life time for them.

They’ll have lighting - torch/glow sticks even attached to them; they may even be tethered (I don’t know if that’s a safe option or not in such conditions). So even though it would be pitch black down there, there will be some lighting to lead the way and head toward if any of them get into difficulty. I’ve more confidence in the children’s capabilities than the conditions they have to traverse through :grimacing: But those Seals will stick to them like glue…octopus :wink:

Never done cave diving myself; that’s a whole other ball game. I’ve done open water both wet and dry suit and night diving in open water, flooded quarries, docks and the likes. Oh, and just a little bit of sky diving…naturally…and then I had kids! But I drew the line at cave diving…not that I’m claustrophobic or anything but… :cold_sweat:


I saw they were trying to teach them to scuba their way out, but the terrain, let alone the “panic” that may set in a new diver in such conditions, would be a concern. As well the water levels can change dramatically again and it can cause you to lose your bearings . I would think that if they chose this method, they would at least have a diving guide per every child or two . There are long distances where they cannot surface and if they get into trouble with their gear, someone would need to be there immediately. I don’t know enough about caves, have dived only a few times, but not under these conditions. As @Emeraldeyes said it is a dark environment, and they don’t know how to swim but can adapt quickly to the basics as they are used to taking instruction, and they want to get out of there so they will be anxious to get it done. All good things for moving forward, as long as they don’t become over anxious in the dive itself. I hope they make the right choice. They have been very fortunate to have the expertise they have from the army etc in the area at the time.
Later, I hope they do something about the caves so this can never happen again.


Heading out soon… but… apparently they have turned up some survey information from a French group… from the late 80/s I believe… i figured there had to be some information to build on… Read it.


Great article @Doug4 thanks for sharing this.


Ouch! So that team is in the wettest part of the cave system - with the beach part between them and dry/drier cave? I hope they can get those kids out soon. They are going to be weak from hunger soon - if not already.


I think @EmeraldEyes is right, their initial conditioning for soccer may be what helps them get through the physical, mental and emotional toll through this. They can do it !


Interesting article, sound pretty much as I suspected.


Jim, I read that yes, they are weakened with some muscle wastage; they’ve huddled to conserve energy in order to survive, their coach had his wits about him :wink: And it sounds like the food supplies they’re taking in to them are to build up their strength and stamina - roast port, sticky rice, milk and high protein drinks.



‘…Claus Rasmussen, who is part of the rescue team, said the boys have told divers they heard dogs barking, a rooster crowing and children playing. That information now has teams looking at whether there is a chimney or hole they can access instead of trying to get the boys out through the water.…’

We can only hope and pray they find another access point in the meantime :pray:


Wouldn’t that be amazing to find another way to safely get them out :thinking: of their famillies waiting, I cannot imagine.


I’d be heart sick if it were mine :sob: :fearful: I’d soon overcome my reluctance to cave dive.


Oh no…:frowning_face:…how sad…


Quite tired today… got some sleep, and got a lot of work to get things ready for my friends eventual return home… took a lunch break and when I returned home to get ready to go visit… neighbour runs over and says she was out already and looking for me with her only set of house keys… quick reunion at the nearby mall and a meal… but she looks much better but I think it will take more time… but good news so far.

Anyway, back on off topic or whatever… Yes always sad when a volunteer dies…
I always cringe when reporters keep saying OXYGEN tanks… yes, oxygen is in the Air Tanks, but is not used in pure form… most of this will be on AIR. But running out of it will still cause death… Supply management is a staple of good diver training especially for confined spaces… 1/3 for the dive, 1/3 for your ‘buddy’ and 1/3 for having spare… Many things can affect that supply, but I have noted that many of the divers are using fairly basic rigs compared to the cave divers… that might have contributed to the accident.

There was also a comment about depletion of the oxygen component in the air itself due to having a few to many hard working rescuers… Many years ago there was a rescue at Twigg Cave in the USA… I forget if it was PA or MD right off the top…
But that one they were aware that the big problem was breathing the air… The decision was made to transport in OXYGEN in bottles to the rescue site… down a tight crawl and not that far into the cave… but they could not make progress due to high CO2 levels. almost 3% CO2… I got a call asking if we could bring a team down to help move more OXYGEN into the cave since they were expending people to uselessness breathing the mess in the last confined space crawl to the subject.
I told my caller whom I won’t name, but he is a big cave rescue type…from those days… Stop with the Oxygen, you NEED to get RID of the CO2 immediately…
Gave some suggestion that if they had any Mine Rescue Teams on the site to ask for a battery powered CO2 scrubber device or at least some CO2 absorbent like Soda Sorb or Baralyme and just spread it on a cookie sheet or similar… he put out the call and found they already had the MRT and a CO2 mitigation crew on site, but carrying Oxygen bottles unaware of the real problem… Anyway, like I said we only went down to help clean up afterwards, but being a commercial diver and used to some types of rebreather gear was a big help… MRTs use rebreathers as standard equipment and they go way back in history… Thinner lighter and long duration in a hard package and they don’t add CO2 to the mix… It was a good call, but I always wondered how it got by being recognized… sometime you can be too close to a problem…

Time to head for some more sleep… i’m beat, only 7 hours last night…


Such a knowledgeable person you are @Doug4! So good you could point them in the right direction.
You are so right,

It is very sad the volunteer died. He was an experienced diver and there may have been circumstances we never hear about.