Within the last few minutes there has been a press conference at London Heathrow with some of the British team that were involved with the cave diving rescue in Thailand.
Josh Bratchley, Mike Clayton, Chris Jewel, Gary Mitchell, Connor Roe, Rick Stanton and Jim Warny flew in overnight.
The British Cave Rescue Council Team
Peter Dennis, Chairman of the British Cave Rescue Council welcomed back the BCRC team from one of the most extraordinary cave rescues ever seen.
"The international collaboration has been an inspiration", he stated. Dennis then shared the BCRC's condolences with Saman Kunan's family and friends.
We must remember the tragedy of Saman Kunan
On Tuesday 26 June 2018 the British Cave Rescue Council received a phone call from the Thai authorities asking for specialist help. The volunteer organisation is formed from cavers and rescue teams who have decades of experience.
Peter Dennis stated "the skilled cave diving team you see before you are in a class of their own. They are drawn from the UK caving community, and have been able to support the Thai rescue plan in saving the 13 young people, who have shown great inner strength and bravery in their rescue."
The team introduced themselves before questions were put to them.
Massive relief tempered with uncertainty
Rick Stanton was asked how the team felt when the children and their football coach were found.
"Initially of course there was excitement, and relief that the children were still alive. We could not see them initially. As they came around the corner and down the slope, we were counting them until we got to 13. It was unbelievable.
The group still had light, but we gave them extra light. They looked in good health. But of course when we departed, all we could think about was how we were going to get them out. So there was massive relief tempered with uncertainty."
This is uncharted territory
Chris Jewel said “it was our role to help transport the boys underwater through the cave to bring them out. The diving conditions were extremely challenging. Poor visibility, some constrictions and the responsibility for another human being's life.”
Rick Stanton was asked what was the most difficult part of the rescue. He said “the actual bringing the children through the hole in the passage. The most important thing was to have a positive pressure full face mask, to enable them to breath and to relax them enough, to not feel any anxiety during the process. It was a lot of responsibility and they were carefully handled.”
An unprecedented rescue
Rick Stanton explained "there was a lot of chaos, but we were so task orientated and focused that we blanked that out, and carried on with the job in hand, step by step, until we achieved success.
It is a rescue that I would dread doing
Rick Stanton stated "This was completely uncharted and unprecedented territory. This is an order of difficulty much higher than anything that has been accomplished anywhere around the world, by any other cave diving team. Of course there were doubts."
We are not heroes
"We are not heroes. We are using a unique skill set which we normally use for our own interest, and sometimes we are able to use that to give something back to the community. That is what we did."
The Thai actions 'bought time'
The BCRC team said that the Thai authorities took a lot of steps to divert rivers on the mountain top, which is thought to have bought additional time to achieve this outcome.
Chris Jewel said that the team were delighted with the successful outcome. “We played a small part in an international effort, with a large team of supporting people. We are pleased we did it.“
Rick Stanton concluded the interview with an observation about the entire rescue team. "We knew we had a good team, with good support from the Thai authorities, the national caving community and the rescue organisation, so we had the best to make a plan work."
How can you help rescues like this?
Charitable rescue organisations such as the British Cave Rescue Council are generally not that well funded. If you feel that you wish to make a practical difference, please consider donating something to this charity. The money will be used to support future cave rescues.