Israeli tech helps find soccer team and their coach – but how will tech save them?
On June 23rd, a group of a dozen children between the ages of 11 and 17 explored a local cave with their soccer team’s coach. When torrential rain began to flood the cave, the group had to climb farther and farther inside in search of higher ground. After several days without contact from the group, officials and family members began to fear the worst.
Fortunately, the team was located within the cave on July 2nd, and miraculously, all thirteen missing people are still alive. Their conditions were assessed and they are impossibly thin, but rescuers were able to bring mylar blankets, food, medicine, and electrolytes to the stranded group.
Technology to the rescue
Their location was discovered using technology developed by Israeli company Maxtech Networks, a form of communication that is capable of sending and receiving signals even underground and without the direct line of sight that is necessary for radio and cellular tech. However, the technology is not as intuitive as using a walkie talkie or a cell phone, so the company has allowed one of its engineers to join the rescue team in order to train the others and ensure that the necessary communication occurs.
Meanwhile, other tech options are being considered and deployed for any rescue avenues. Some Thai military teams have been searching for other entrances to the six-mile cave system, or at least potential drilling sites that may allow them to evacuate the group. Rescue workers from six different countries, including Thai navy divers and SEAL team members, have been at work planning for the possibility that the team must be evacuated by swimming underwater.
The rescue divers who’ve made contact with the group have had to swim with scuba gear for as much as five hours to reach them, a difficult enough feat for a highly-skilled expert. None of the children or their coach can swim, let alone scuba dive, and the risk of panic in the completely dark swim may be too great. Officials have considered full-face scuba masks that could help reduce the chance of panic or gag reflex-related drowning that may result from using a scuba regulator, but full-face masks have come under fire recently due to higher-than-usual rates of drowning associated with their use.