A commercial diver with more than 35 years experience’ says that the ongoing efforts to rescue a team of soccer players in Thailand are unimaginably difficult and intimidating.
Mike Roberts, owner of Divetech Limited in Goodwood, N.S., says that he can’t imagine the long, narrow path to reach the eight children and one adult who remain in the cave.
“They’ve got cave divers who are having to take the cylinder off of their back and slide the cylinder through first, before they can squirm through, and they’ve literally got the ceiling touching the back of their head and the floor touching their chest,” Roberts said on Sunday.
Earlier in the day it was announced that four of the team members had been successfully rescued from the flooded Tham Luang cave.
The group — some of whom are weak swimmers and as young as 11 — have been trapped underground for more than two weeks.
Roberts says that strong currents in the cave are only part of the challenges that the rescuers — 13 international and five Thai divers — face as they make their way through the cave system.
“Zero visibility,” he said, noting one of those challenges. “So these guys can’t see out anything; everything’s done by feel.”
“So, psychologically, it’s the self-control. That’s the biggest factor.”
Keeping panic at bay is a challenge that Andrew Munoz, a paramedic in British Columbia, can relate to.
Munoz and a friend were trapped for 24 hours while exploring caves on Vancouver Island in 2015.
He said that before their rescue, Andrew Munoz considered making a final recording on his helmet camera.
“At what point do I make a last will and testament?” said Munoz. “When do I start saying those messages that I’m afraid I’m never going to get to say to my daughter and my family?”
For the rescue efforts in Thailand, full face masks — rather than traditional equipment — are being installed on the children.
Roberts says that the full face masks will make sure they cannot become disconnected.
The large masks will also include earphones and a microphone, allowing the boys and their rescuers to communicate.
“You tell the kids, ‘you just gotta breathe and do as you’re told,'” Roberts said.
“We pray that everyone keeps calm, it goes like the previous four and it ends great, and we have all these kids back.”
— With files from Reuters and the Canadian Press