RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - People around the world watched the rescue in Thailand, waiting and hoping for the best for 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave.
"It was a miracle. The odds against it were unbelievable," explained Jim McNeal, the owner of the Dive Shop in Henrico. "[It can be] absolutely terrifying, but they had a purpose. They knew what they had to accomplish to save these kids."
McNeal has decades of dive experience, including some rescue work, and says this cave diving mission took great skill. They worked against cold, tight spaces and monsoon rains.
"You've got no visibility. Literally, you cant see your hand in front of your face," he explained. "It was a monumental task. They need to be able to open the waterway some, because it was so tight to swim through that with the tanks and the kids, its very easy to get somebody stuck."
Taking supplies down to the boys and their coach was also a vital part of the rescue. McNeal says in order to guide them back to safety, the boys and coach need face masks that most likely had a microphone system so the divers could speak to them and vice versa. McNeal says wetsuits were also among the supplies given to the boys in order to keep their body temperatures somewhat regulated while traveling through the cold waters of the cave.
Watching the situation closely, McNeal thought about the many techniques to keep the divers safe as well, such as staying calm and being conscious of their breathing.
"I inhale through my mouth and exhale through my nose. By doing that, my air will last longer," McNeal explained.
Eight of the boys were rescued Sunday and Monday. Tuesday, the coach and remaining four boys were brought to safety.
Each person was assisted by a pair of divers. Those divers are now considered heroes to McNeal and many all over the globe.
"That was a job well done," he said. "It's a miracle, it really was."
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