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2018-07-03 07:55 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 561 references Ignore this thread
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This is not going to be easy.

Rescue workers in Thailand who successfully located the 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave for 10 days are now working on how to successfully get them out, as officials fear it might take months for the flood waters to subside.

There's a lot of people that are thinking "oh just give them dive gear."  Uh, no.

I cave-dive for fun; haven't in a number of years, but I used to be quite-active at it.  It's pretty easy to kill yourself doing that under good circumstances, and this definitely is not.

Reports are that the divers that reached them had a three hour time to get there.  I don't know how much of that was underwater, but the answer is probably "a good amount of it."  For an untrained and inexperienced person a standard dive bottle of gas (80cf) is good for roughly 30-45 minutes at surface pressures.  Yes, a skilled and experienced person can, under decent conditions, double that time at shallow depth -- but there is a zero chance an inexperienced, never-dove-before kid will make it anywhere near that long.  Assuming they're less than 30' or so underwater, where decompression is not a factor, it's very unlikely these kids can get out with standard open-circuit gear never mind that caves are dark and the water is likely zero or near-zero visibility -- meaning you can't see at all so your only means of knowing you're going the right way is to follow a line.  Lose contact with it and, even with training and experience you're in a ****load of trouble and if you don't know what you're doing or panic you're dead.

From what I've read there's at least one restriction that's basically "body-sized and not much more" you have to go through too, which makes for an even worse situation in that if you get hung up in there you're utterly ****ed and you may kill everyone behind you by blocking the passage.  Remember that you cannot talk with someone underwater, and in zero or near-zero vis you can't write on a slate either (the other guy can't read it) so communication is through agreed touch if anything.  This means whoever is in the water has to have their **** together and know what they're doing.

It's likely these guys are using rebreathers due to the gas and time requirements.  I built one and it works.  However, they're quite a bit more complex than regular open-circuit dive gear and if anything goes wrong with one you either know and execute the required procedures, plus have bailout gas sufficient to get to the surface or you die.

Oh, can we mention that your "reptile brain" (which we all have deep in us) will have you do exactly the wrong thing every single time underwater?  This means that if you lose your cool for any reason you are dead, period.

There's an old (mostly-bull**** IMHO) saw about diving that you should "always have a buddy."  There's a decent debate to be had about that in open water, where you have free access to the surface.  In a cave having someone else with you probably means they can mark your body's location if you don't kill them when you screw up (or vice-versa); while in theory with proper gear a buddy can use your long hose (that's why you use a primary hose that's 7' long so you can swim single-file in such a circumstance and your backup is under your chin and for you only), assuming of course you correctly computed gas reserve requirements for both of you in that circumstance including the (much) higher breathing rate after something goes wrong.  In other words, that's all fantasy land nonsense.

Reality when is that if you screw the pooch while diving in a cave there's a very good chance you'll kill the person you're with -- along with yourself.  There are multiple instances where someone has done exactly that by getting stuck in a restriction, has ridiculously jacked-up gas consumption due to whatever happened originally or has destroyed the visibility and gotten off the line and nobody makes it out alive.

How they decide to try to get these kids out of there is going to be interesting.  The one thing they have going for them is that they're smaller (since they're teens) and thus will consume less gas, but it has to be assumed that they will absolutely need some sort of exposure protection (3 hours in the water, even if it's 70F, which it probably isn't, is life-threatening all on its own!) as well assuming they're going to try to bring them out through the water.

This one's not over folks -- not by a long shot.

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Wearedoomed
Posts: 4315
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slightly red state
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I'm crossing fingers and toes for all of them.

Anyone can drown in a couple inches of water. If the rescuers can get anyone out alive, it'll be Hollywood material.

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Wakeupcall
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I have been following this. Was so happy yesterday when i saw they were founf alive. Didnt realize it would be this difficult to get them out.

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Tripseven
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Tough situation especially for the children with very little experience with stress control. While I can easily get 2hrs on a safety bottle (80 cf) at one atmosphere or less, admittedly it takes extreme breathing/movement control. If vis is ok it wont be for long as buoyancy control will be out the window...bouncing off the cave walls will silt the path quickly.

Perhaps a huka setup with comms might be better than bottles or re breather but still extremely dicey.

I think they will eventually be ok if they're patient. At least now they have food, water and warmth.

Hoping for the best!

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Spazznout
Posts: 1791
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Columbus, Ohio
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Build an underwater zipline.
Harness one kid at a time to it.
Have a pull line tethered to an umbilical cord supplying air and warm water if needed. Like they do when hand dredging in cold water. Have a backup diver directly behind each kid with a supplemental bottle of air already hooked to the kids full over the head mask. This would give them a lower profile for making it through tight spots. The zip line would also act as a track for the umbilical to travel on.

The umbilical and zip line would also allow for worker to go in and widen any openings as needed.


Seems like we can lay telecommunication lines across thousands of miles of ocean. Not all that different in that both are water proof hoses filled with different materials.

Just a brainstorm.
I have only dived 2x and one of those was in a pool at a training facility and the other we were only 15-20 feet underwater. So take my opinion with a grain of salt.

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Cerich
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ga
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keeping them feed and flying in a bore machine like used in Copiap would be a better call than trying to dive them out given the distance and the restriction.

I am not as worried about a body getting stuck in the restriction given they are kids (and the Brit divers that found them are are normal sized white guys with gear) so much as the gas switches (which if sump areas may be less of an issue)

I think boring is a MUCH better chance of rescue of all versus rescue of most.

My favorite line of your ticker is "In other words, that's all fantasy land nonsense.", indeed it is but it's amazing how many believe it, including many "big name instructors" in cave diving.



Tickerguy
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@Tripseven -- looks like they're ~3-4 miles in. Trying to rig a hooka setup over that distance is a HUGE problem due to the hose length and how you handle it when they're coming out (snags, etc.) I wouldn't even contemplate attempting that as if you hang up the airhose and rip the reg out of their mouth you're going to kill someone in there for sure.

De-watering the cave is going to be tough as well; there's a LOT of water in there and it's damn near impossible to prevent more from coming in if/when it rains.

I've done roughly 50 minutes on a 72 @ ~30' or so on a night dive and had ~1kpsi left when I surfaced (we got bored) BUT I've also got north of 1,000 dives under my belt and it was an extraordinarily un-stressful floating around sort of thing, and exactly zero of that applies in this instance. You have to expect that these kids are going to be sucking down 2 cfm @ 1 ATA, then adjust for depth; the question becomes whether the entire path is flooded or is it only parts of it; if the latter then they can stage bottles and swap 'em but it only takes ONE that kid that panics in there, especially given that they said there's at least one restriction, and they're completely ****ed. I would expect the viz to be zero through the entire path.

Then there's exposure protection; no idea the water temps but 3 hours in common cave water temps, even in warm climates like here or Mexico (e.g. ~68-72F) and you'd be lucky not to be dead from that alone, never mind what cold stress does to your gas consumption. No possible way for them to deal with drysuits so wetsuits it would have to be, then you got weighting and buoyancy to deal with -- and these are kids who have almost-certainly NEVER dove before, so.... yeah. Think first-hour PADI class X 100.

"Tough" isn't the right word for this. If they get these kids out via other than waiting for the water to recede I owe 'em as many pints as they wish to drink if I ever run into them.

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Cerich
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ga
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even one on one with an experienced cave instructor and the odds are poor they all get out diving.

Would I try? Only if there was absolute certainty that the kids will die if left where they are.

Tickerguy
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@Cerich -- one of the "exercises" I've done is a "simulated" rescue of a disabled diver in a cave. The "disabled" guy was only about 300' in and he had gas since he wasn't actually dead which meant I could manipulate his buoyancy (since his BC was intact and so was his gas supply.) I got him out but much further and I would have had to leave him to die or would have killed myself in the attempt, either from running out of gas directly or from accumulating a deco obligation (never mind HIS obligation!) that neither of us had the gas to serve out. And that's with both having full and WORKING gear (e.g. no missing mask or one that just got kicked off, etc), he was able to retain a reg under his own power since he wasn't REALLY disabled AND enough room that I could "mount" the dude vertically and sort of "ride" him while swimming him out. If there had been a restriction? Uh..... yeah.

All that nonsense about "buddies" in an overhead is horse****. IF everything goes exactly right during such an attempt you MIGHT make it. Of course all sorts of **** already went wrong or you wouldn't be in that situation, so what do you think they odds are? You're FAR more likely to kill the guy(s) you're diving with if **** goes sideways than one of you are to rescue one or more of the others.

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Peterm99
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Karl -

Thanks for the excellent explanation of the problems that I've not seen mentioned in any of the news stories I've found. The only alternative to "swimming/diving" them out I've heard mentioned has been just leaving them there with sufficient food/water/air(?) for the many months it is expected to take for the water to recede.

Is there any reasonable likelihood of an overhead rescue (a la the Chilean miners a couple of years ago) being possible/feasible? I've seen no info on what kind of cave, how deep underground, type of rock/dirt overhead, potential "target" area for overhead drill, etc., etc., etc.

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Maynard
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Diving is one of the sports I do that I don't **** around with. I was certified up here in the PNW and have dove all around the Caribbean. You have to be in a certain state of mind otherwise you will die. Give these kids gear to get out and they will be dead.
Tripseven
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"looks like they're ~3-4 miles in"

Ugh, the report I read yesterday said ~500 ft. This changes everything from nail-biter to oh ****. That far in and the room they're in floods? Even at 500 ft in and it floods. If the rain doesn't let up for a significant amount of time I don't see this ending well.

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Ckaminski
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Mass-Hole!
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Quote:
rescue of a disabled diver in a cave.


You are ****ing mad; lets face it you have brass ones bigger than my head.

I've only about 50 dives under my belt - overhead is NEVER something I'm doing on purpose. No way, no how.

Tickerguy
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Quote:
Is there any reasonable likelihood of an overhead rescue (a la the Chilean miners a couple of years ago) being possible/feasible? I've seen no info on what kind of cave, how deep underground, type of rock/dirt overhead, potential "target" area for overhead drill, etc., etc., etc.

Maybe.

But there is REAL potential trouble there too. Where they are is protected by being a "bubble". If they open it up (by boring into it) it could collapse, or worse, allow the water to rise by releasing the air pressure and immediately drown everyone in there.

Boring into there is the logical choice but they need to be REAL sure they won't flood the space by doing it.

@Tripseven -- 500' FROM THE HIGH SPOT they thought they were at. They were another ~400' beyond that. There's a rough map that's been posted; they're not a few hundred feet from the opening.

What I don't know (because they haven't shown the map shaded to show what parts of it are flooded) is how much of it is a sump. If only short parts of it are flooded then staging bottles and swimming the flooded pieces is possible, but realize that these guys took over a week to find them which strongly implies that a LARGE part of path is underwater. That ain't good.

Update: They're saying now more than a mile from the exit and MOST of it is underwater. NOT GOOD.

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Ajc1970
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las vegas, nevada
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http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/07/03/....

"the tunnels, which are so narrow in parts that only one body can pass through at a time. None of the boys knows how to swim and even elite Thai Navy SEAL divers have been finding the ability to navigate through muddy waters difficult."

They aren't swimming out.
Quik49
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Online
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was in a cenote just a few weeks ago that was about 60 feet down...you could still see sky...but dame eerie swimming around and going underwater where it connected to another none.... no way in hell you get me into a cave underwater. I pray they get them out safely and seems patience is the key. idiots on the local radio station this morning thinking they would be out out tonight.... smiley

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Burya_rubenstein
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Have one of the rescue divers bring along a barometer to check the pressure in the air pocket before attempting to drill in. Meanwhile continue to bring in food, fresh water, lantern batteries, and lithium hydroxide and wait for the flood to subside.

Come to think of it, don't divers wear pressure gages that tell them how deep they are? They should already know if it's a trapped air bubble and how deep its surface is.
Tickerguy
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They have depth gauges (whether separate or in their instrumentation) a foot of water is, well, a foot of water. How much error rate can they take on that measurement? Unknown.

If they KNOW the place they're at is open from the top that's good and bad. It's good in that they can bore into it. It's BAD in that continued rain, especially if it gets heavier and the water level outside rises, means the place they're at will eventually flood and kill them all.

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Ajc1970
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las vegas, nevada
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"Meanwhile continue to bring in food, fresh water, lantern batteries, and lithium hydroxide and wait for the flood to subside."

This is the rainy season in SE Asian. That could be September or October. Their pumps are barely impacting the water level. Between now and the end of the wet season, there will be bigger rains.

They're up north, but I lived in Bangkok for a few years, and my memories are of at least weekly flooding during the summer (downtown streets in their capitol).

Hope they figure out something -- this doesn't look good though.
Flyanddive
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Detroit
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They'll have to wait it out till October, when the water recedes.

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Themortgagedude
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saint louis
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They will figure something out. We're not losing those kids now that we've found them.

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Tickerguy
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Yeah, well..... I ain't taking the bet yet. I know how tough a situation like this can be. Give me a gasbag and a line and I'd swim it, but the odds for someone who's NEVER DONE IT before in zero viz.... not so good.

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Dcsleeper
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Northern VA
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Bore the hole bigger than a man and they'll float out one at a time.
Flyanddive
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Detroit
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They definitely aren't diving out, the only option is to find alternative access, but the terrain is un-mapped. If they bring in drilling equipment, that will take weeks to months to complete even the geo survey. They need a miracle, like finding an alternative entrance by luck. They are there till October when the water resides, that's pretty much certain at this point.

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Redjack
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Iowa
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Not a diver, but have a lot of experience with SCBA's in hazardous atmospheres.

We had an exercise where we simulated a mass release of bad atmo in a large plant.

Without going into to much detail, most of the team "died". I didn't, but I was VERY comfortable in the gear. If I wasn't, the stress would have had me use more air, and then that dang bell would have rang. It made us totally rethink a lot of procedures.

Underwater, with kids... No way.
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