Of all the news stories over the past few weeks, none dominated the world’s attention more than the drama that unfolded of the Thai youth soccer team who became trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex in Thailand. The “Wild Boars” team of 12 young players and their coach captivated our attention, and our hearts soared when they were discovered alive.
We looked on with both fear and hope as the options for extracting them safely from the flooded cave seemed to become more and more limited—and rejoiced with one great voice when they were all safely freed. The tragic death of diver Saman Kunan, who died while positioning air tanks to be used in the rescue, highlighted the dangers and risks of the rescue operation.
As the story unfolded it became clear that support from healthcare professionals was critically important to the rescue effort. This included the physicians who made the journey into the cave to examine and care for those who were trapped, who stayed with them through the entire process. It extended to the extraordinary teams who were assembled at the mouth of the cave to provide immediate care as the team members were brought out over several days. And it has been a focus of the story of the boys’ recovery and release from the hospital this week.
I was interested to see how the same values that shape our ministry and care at Adventist HealthCare were operative during the rescue of the Wild Boars from the cave. Respect for each person involved—including the boys themselves, their families, the rescue teams, and those involved in their care—has been paramount.
As each option for extracting the team from the cave was considered, we became aware of the conscientious manner in which the entire rescue was managed—and the integrity that was exhibited across every system.
The service teams that were assembled to support both the rescued and the rescuers included healthcare practitioners who were insistent on high standards of care. From what I could discover from reading and watching the media reports, the healthcare personnel involved were very effective in their work and achieved excellent results.
On the Facebook page for the Thai Navy Seals, the posting that was made just after all of the boys had been rescued and everyone was safely out of the cave spoke volumes in just a few words: ” We are not sure if this is a miracle, a science, or what.” Many prayers—from people of many faiths—were offered up as the saga unfolded, and it does seem miraculous that every boy was evacuated safely. The level of expertise that was so clearly in play from so many different people made it clear that there was a great deal of science involved in the successful rescue. And the “or what” was exemplified by the many effective teams, each doing their part, to get the desired end result.
I’m proud of our colleagues in healthcare in Thailand (and from many other places) who participated in this epic rescue. We are so often a part of the human experience at the most profound and critical moments of life. From the rescue to the recovery, what we saw healthcare professionals doing in this situation highlights again what it is that we do every day—in desperate and frantic situations, as well as at times of great hope and joy. What our colleagues who were involved in this situation have done is an inspiration and example to those who work in healthcare around the world. And a reminder of how important our work and ministry can be.