Two heroic medical professionals — a nurse and a doctor — have volunteered to stay half a mile beneath the earth’s surface and more than a mile into a cave to tend to a team of 12 young soccer players and their coach as they train for the worst and pray for the best.
The doctor and the nurse, both medics with the Thai military’s Underwater Demolition Assault Unit, have reached the boys, who have been trapped in the cavernous belly of the Thuam Luang cave complex since June 23, according to the Evening Standard. And despite the mounting risks, they aren’t going anywhere.
Both medics have reportedly offered to remain underground with the players and their coach even if rising flood water — an increasingly likely possibility — leaves them trapped beneath the earth’s surface for months.
According to Inside Edition, the two medical professionals, part of a team of seven workers helping the soccer team, are trying to determine who in the group might be strong enough to escape the cave by swimming out while wearing dive masks, which is, at this point, a last resort.
Experts and dive teams working to evacuate 12 boys and their soccer coach from a cave in Thailand have to deal with many elements, including darkness, cold, rushing water and time. CNN's Tom Foreman explains what they're up against. https://t.co/X1V3OoafTQ pic.twitter.com/Cx56h9HsSN
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) July 4, 2018
“Diving is not easy,” Thai Interior Minster Anupong Paojinda told the Standard. “For people who have never done it, it will be difficult, unlike diving in a swimming pool, because the cave’s features have small channels. If something happens midway, it could be life-threatening.”
It’s important to note that none of the boys previously knew how to swim and, should they be forced to dive through the perilous tunnel, they may have to do so without oxygen tanks at certain points, due to spatial constraints.
The kids reportedly first entered the cave — and were subsequently lost for several days — as part of an “initiation,” where the players venture deep into the end of a lengthy tunnel, scrawl their names on the wall, and wade back out, according to diving instructor Ben Reymenants, who is working to save the youngsters.
Right now, the response team is working tirelessly to drain as much water as possible from the tunnel and the cave, though there are reports emerging volunteers accidentally started pumping water back into the tunnel. The divers and other first responders are running against the clock, as a monsoon is forecast in the coming days, which could worsen the already dire situation.
It could take weeks or even months before the water has receded enough for the children to safely walk out of the cave.
A phone line has been installed so that parents can talk to their children as rescuers weigh options for extracting them from the flooded cave in Thailand. @ABC News' @JamesAALongman has the latest from Chiang Rai. https://t.co/ocLcphyaXl pic.twitter.com/wQBWcVQmS9
— ABC News (@ABC) July 3, 2018
In hopes of bringing the children and their parents a moment’s peace, experts are working to install a phone line between the cave and the ground above so the players and their coach can communicate with loved ones, CBS News reported.
Military personnel, medical experts, and ambulances are positioned at the mouth of the tunnel awaiting the group’s arrival.