8 Lessons We Learned
from the Thai Cave Rescue
By Andy Flores
The world let out a huge sigh of relief and erupted into celebration on Tuesday night, when the news broke that all 12 school boys and their football coach trapped inside the treacherous Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand had been rescued, ending a 17-day ordeal.
A heart-stopping operation, the Thai cave rescue gripped the hearts and minds of millions, gathering people across nations in action, in prayer, and in showing an astounding amount of concern and compassion. It’s been an incredible journey so far, and while the story of the boys, their coach, and the rescuers are far from over, here are some lessons we learned from the event:
1. Hope can be found even in the darkest of places.
…literally. With time running out and the undesirable weather over Chiang Rai not letting up, the odds of the boys, aged between 11 to 17, and their coach, 25-year-old Ekaphol “Ek” Chantawong, surviving underground was getting bleaker by the minute. But with authorities and rescue teams working rigorously in high spirits, the extraordinary happened: Nine days after the Wild Boars football team had gone missing, they were found alive 2.5 miles into the cave complex.
2. Fuel your passion.
A number of members of the international rescue team maintain regular day jobs back in their home countries, and practice cave diving out of passion. Among many others, British volunteer John Volanthen, one of the two divers who discovered the trapped boys, is an IT consultant based in Bristol, while Australian Dr. Richard Harris, whose main task was to assess and ensure the health of the boys and decide on who had to be taken out of the cave first, is an Adelaide-based anesthetist. You just never know when the world would need you and your expertise, so go and keep doing what you love!
3. “Cherish every day.”
As the events of the rescue intensified, the world got to know the retired Thai Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st Class Saman Gunan, who was at the forefront of the mission. In charge of delivering oxygen tanks to the young boys and the coach, the avid outdoorsman didn’t have enough for himself on his way back. He made the ultimate sacrifice, and his comrades made sure that his efforts didn’t go to waste. He was once quoted saying, “We never knew when we would die. We can’t control that so we need to cherish every day.” His passing was met with an outpouring of tributes to remember his life and act of courage.
4. No role is ever too small, for there are heroes in everyday faces.
From the home cooks and chefs who provided free meals onsite to the laundry staff who washed the wetsuits and uniforms of the volunteers to the farmers who allowed the water pumped out of the cave to be directed to their rice paddies, every single individual involved in this grueling mission contributed to its success.