For once, Im 100% qualified to talk about current news #ThaiCaveRescue
Hi I’m Puff & I’m a cave/cavern/tech/Nitrox/tri mix/wreck cert’d diver. Summer 01, I worked at a dive equipment manufacturer and was part of the only team in all central FL
Buckle up, we’re talking rescue 1/X
First off, let’s acknowledge that open water scuba is a chump sport now. Sorry Mom and Dad (who both learned from retired/sadistic SEALS) it’s all computers, no one drown proofs you, and most idiots can learn to dive.
They don’t call it “Put Another Dummy In” for nothing kids 2/X
Cave diving is a monster.
Open water: bright, well lit ocean floor, low current, pretty fish, low risk of death. Problem? Gently ascend and go to your boat.
Cave diving: dark, muddy tunnels, medium to high current. You are kicking and breathing so hard you get headaches
Cave diving is 30-90’ of overhead. You F up you gas calculations you die.
You have a catastrophic gear failure? You die.
You go in untrained? Guess who gets to pull you bloated corpse out. Worst days were when we’d get calls from the Alachua Co. Sherrif’s office
It takes a lot to train a cave diver. Open water cert, usually 50 dives open. Then cavern, then cave.
I cert’d at 18 with 4 open dives b/c my father is a cave instructor and a moron. In retrospect I’m not sure how I never died, I had no business in caves that early. But I digress
So, to be a cave diver and rescue cert’d is a lot of work. Think about the Thai SEAL who died, that man has more time and skill in a cave than 99% over divers alive
Let that sink in
Now you are asking if terrified, starving young men to enter the SCARIEST ENVIRONMENT IMAGINABLE
Have you seen someone panic? Genuine, gut shaking, lose you fucking mind panic?
I have and it’s uncontrollable.
As a lifeguard p, you learn that a drowning person is likely to try to kill you in their panic. It’s th same for rescue diving.
Now put boys weak from starvation, on the verge of panic from the pressure of life and death, THEN flood that cave.
That’s what they’re doing right now
Teaching these boys to scuba, follow a thin gold line on minimal training and hope they don’t kill their rescuers
Every young man that emerges from that cave alive will be a testament to the indomitable human spirit.
The ability to overcome the more extreme of circumstances
The will to survive
If nothing else, I hope two fact puts things in perspective for you.
1) three of my friends have died cave diving
2) I’ve never successfully pulled a live human from the water (scuba, lifeguarding another matter)
I hope this all lays out the magnitude of what’s going on in Thailand right now.
2) ITS COLD! You are looking at 68F/20C in central FL and Thailand. Not too terrible in open air but it will rob you of body heat in minutes. They are probably in drysuits which are bulky, unwieldy, and can easily blowout neck/wrist seals
I don't know what the boys are in but even a 7mm wetsuit gets cold after 45 minutes. 3-5 hours, when already depleted and weak will literally be a fight for life.
This is that cave, 300' in. Dark, narrowing, & high flow.
Looking at the sketches of the Thai caves, its smaller, darker, &d muddier.
Again, I hope this put things in perspective. Think about following that tiny line, with a terrified boy, half the space, and 10% the visibility
I had some request for additional technical info so here’s what I’ve got.
First off, gear: standard mask. NO SNORKLES they get caught in lines/ceilings/etc. The fins are stiffer than OW. Drysuit or thick (7mm or more) for cold water but you can get away with 5mm in Mexico
You also need the standard regulators. Your tank set up varies: single for short dives, double with dual manifold (seen in the first pic) for long dives. However, there’s been a movement in the last decade for side mounts p, single tanks under each arm
You vary the type of gas mix based on depth and duration. For central FL, most people use Nitrox. Mexico was usually air. Not knowing the Thai caves, I couldn’t guess at what they’d use. That said, they need lots, and lots of tanks for dives that lomg
I’m hoping it’s shallow to cut down on decompression time and speed up the process. Otherwise you’ve got high(er) risk of injury/death and likely a long trip to the nearest chamber
The line they use is essentially 550 cord. Starts at one end, goes the the other. It is you life line. In black water conditions, that is all that brings you back. Hope you never get entangled and hand to cut free because you might not find your one again
Also, if you need more info, check out http://CaveDiving.com
(Truth up front, my old man helps run the site)
As promised, here are the top questions asked today and my answers based solely on my experience and knowledge. Please note, I am not currently in Thailand, I'm not a doctor, and I'm not @elonmusk :)
Why not sedate the boys to keep them from panicking?
Their bodies are already compromised by starvation, lack of sunlight, and low oxygen. Sedation in those cases would be very medically risky.
It would also make it more difficult for them to concentrate and be active participants in their own rescue.
Under “normal” circumstances, you would want the person to relax and not move and you got them to safety, but given the tight restrictions, climbing in and out of water, and technical skills needed, you want a person with as much of their mental horsepower as possible.
How did they get so far in?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ You got me on that one.
I think (think!) they went in a difference entrance than what the rescue operation is utilizing.
That said, you can dive pretty far back into a cave. My maps of the Devil’s Eye/Ear system show I’ve been diving at *least* 1800ft (.33 mile/.5km) into the system on a single dive. It stands to reason that people walking could make it much further.
Why groups of 4?
How are all wars won? Logistics! Again, I’m not on the ground in Thailand but I imagine they are spending most of the night on logistics: refilling tanks, maintaining gear, and letting the divers deco.
There is probably also time prepositioning tanks. A team moves a group of bottles forward. Another team, using some bottles stages another set of bottles forward. And so on and so forth.
Would @elonmusk’s submarine work?!?!
Short answer, no.
*ducks from all the thrown spears*
I love Elon Musk. He’s my kind of batshit crazy. The fine line between genius and madness.
@elonmusk, however, isn’t a cave diver, nor I’m guessing, is his team of overworked geniuses. I don’t think they fully appreciate how tight/narrow the restrictions are in the cave.
I’ve seen video of the submersible in action and it visually presents as too wide in diameter to fit and too long to make many of the turns.
That said, @elonmusk I adore you & fully support your Mars mission. Please DM me to discuss consultant work for your cave diving company!