Menu
Cart 0

Adventure travel like the Thai boys soccer team

Posted by John T. Reed on

The Thai soccer team trapped in a flooded cave horrifies the world. What can I add to the discussion?
.
Not much. It seems to generally be covered correctly
.
CO2 levels are rising where the boys and their coach are. They are taking oxygen tanks in there to raise the oxygen levels. Uh, CO2 is heavier than oxygen. if you put both into a confined space, the oxygen will lie on top of the CO2 like oil on water.
.
Furthermore, the cave apparently opens to the surface as evidenced by the boys being able to hear birds. So the CO2 will push the oxygen up into the passages above the boys. 
.
CO2 is not poison gas, but it is not breathable. We have a lot of abandoned mines in Northern CA where I live. Two young boys died in one locally when they got into a low spot in it where CO2 had accumulated. The entrances are typically barred but you know boys.
.
Wine cellars have the same problem. Wine gives off CO2. In the old days, owners would put a candle on a long stick and put it down into the cellar before they went down. It would go out if the cellar were full of CO2. 
.
The canary in the coal mine dies before the humans because of CO2 or carbon monoxide or methane rather than oxygen, thereby telling the miners to get out. 
.
Indeed, there is a former coal and sand mine near where I live called the Black Diamond Mine. I took my oldest son there on a tour once. They have a graveyard where the miners who died are buried. A disproportionate number of them are small children. How so? They did not have canaries and therefore used their own children. They sent one down into the mine each day before the men went down. If the kid did not come back, the men did not go down. Why? A man is useful as a worker. A child is not. Really.
.
Grain silos also have the CO2 pooling at the bottom problem. 
.
I think they need to find one of those holes open to the surface and feed an air tube down to pump in air. They might need to find a way to get the CO2 out.
.
In other words, just releasing oxygen from Scuba tanks does not strike me as adequate or even useful. I researched hiding from wild fires in swimming pools recently. You need SCUBA. Each tank lasts about a half hour for one person. I do not see how they can get enough tanks in there for 25 people for four months.
.
Apollo 13 famously had scrubbers to remove CO2. They had to create an adaptor to get the one in the lunar lander to work in the space ship that carried them to the moon. Submarines also have this problem.
.
They keep saying the boys are not trained divers and none can even swim. Swimming strikes me as irrelevant. That is done on the surface of water. In this case, they need to travel underwater much of the way including through parts where only one person can fit at a time.
.
They fear the kids may panic and be unhelpable. I expect some would. So maybe sedate them with general anesthesia?? The situation may require the least-worst solution, not a long wait for the best or the normal solution.
.
I have a solution that will not help these kids, but would help future such kids. Adventure travel is dangerous. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of rescue. Into Thin Air tells of the tragedy of a bunch or airhead tourists led by a guide who should have known better up to the summit of Mount Everest. Most of them including the guide died.
.
A local high school football player from a team near my house was taken on a white water kayaking or rafting trip by a young trainer at the school—similar age to the soccer coach who took the boys into the cave in Thailand. The occasion was there had been extraordinary amounts of rain so the white water was much whiter than normal. When they got to the river, it was festooned with signs saying don’t do it. The river is running too fast. 
.
They did it anyway. The player was found dead, drowned down stream after he got tossed from the boat. He had not been wearing a life jacket which is mandatory for all water sports. 
.
You probably have your own similar stories.
.
At West Point and in Army Ranger School, we were required to engage in adventures that were edgy, but they were vetted for being feasible for that training. The equipment was all tested. The staff was aware of the risks. We were trained about the risks. We all survived, although they almost killed me at the Yellow River crossing in Ranger because a staffer got impatient and broke a rule to try to speed things up. We got injured in Airborne School because they did a jump when the wind was blowing too much so they could start Christmas vacation early in December 1968.
.
Thrill seeking can get you killed. You need to be very careful about who you are relying on the make sure the risks are under control. The Thai soccer team did not do that. They ignored signs warning about exactly the problem they are now beset by.

Share this post



← Older Post Newer Post →