The dramatic rescue of 33 Chilean Miners has captured the world’s attention and hearts. The story has raised questions and fears in many of us who wonder how it all happened, and how did they survive? Could we have withstood the horrible conditions and psychological trauma they endured? Could we, as family members, have listened everyday for news, good or bad, and still have carried on in any meaningful way?
Technology kept us in touch with the progress throughout this drama. Still the wait seemed endless….and then contact with the miners was made. The final minutes of the drilling operation to reach the miners was a joint effort, with the underground miners feeding live video footage to the rescuers. Wow!! Imagine the euphoria once this miraculous contact was made. The next question was how to get supplies to them safely. Again the use of technology allowed supplies to be delivered to the miners trapped 2,300 feet below the surface.
This was only the beginning of their long journey to daylight. NASA was asked to help with technology and rations that could help the miners remain healthy. Psychiatrists conducted detailed assessments using relatives and medical files to produce profiles on the miners. Glucose gels to help their digestive systems, hydration tablets, oxygen and other medications were delivered through a tiny extraction hole down the shaft of the mine. Via newly installed communication equipment, the trapped miners applauded, cheered and sang the national anthem when they were first reached.
The miners, who alerted the world to their survival by passing a note through a shaft, had survived on two mouthfuls of tuna, a biscuit and half a glass of milk every 48 hours. The group asked for “food, toothbrushes and something for their eyes”, as well as beer and peaches, when the rescuers made contact.
The miners were warned about the long days ahead. The road to survival had just begun. How could they do it? Technology was pivotal. The 33 Chilean miners trapped deep underground watched movies on a projector built into a cellular phone. They communicated with rescuers and relatives over an ultra-flexible fiber-optic cable that maintained transmission capacity while twisting through hard rock nearly half a mile below ground. Most of us still shake our heads and wonder how they did it but the communication must have bolstered their spirits and allowed them to remain sane, and indeed optimistic.
On 13 October, the world watched as the first miner Florencio Avalos reached the surface and was greeted by the Chilean president. From August 5th, when the accident occurred to October 13th when all 33 miners were brought to the surface, these brave men maintained hope and determination as the world watched on. According to data released by UK Internet Service Provider (ISP) Demon, internet usage increased by 26 percent as people watched online videos of Chilean miners being rescued from the mine. Overall, internet usage increased by 22 percent on the day when the miners were supposed to the rescued.
Technology, technology, technology….. The use of it as a tool to help PEOPLE who may otherwise be isolated and forgotten, to stay connected, is a central theme to this dramatic story of the human spirit. It is not what captured our attention, but technology was what helped make this story unfold the way it did. I have talked about how technology can be used to help us stay healthy. These exceptional men now face the challenge of learning to deal with the trauma they have endured. Having access to help and staying connected will be crucial. Using technology may be the way they can maintain the necessary contact. It is these real life stories that keep me pushing for its use to find solutions to so many of life’s challenges.
Stay tuned to more stories and the many elephants hiding in the rooms.