Hero of 2018 Thai cave rescue coming to ALGA’s Roads Congress

The Adelaide cave-diver who won national and international renown for helping rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand will be speaking at ALGA’s Special Local Roads and Transport Congress on 16-17 November.

Dr Richard “Harry” Harris will relate to delegates how he dived through long and dark tunnels to reach the stranded boys and how he assessed their physical condition before helping coordinate their evacuation – all the while knowing that forecast heavy rains might make rescue near impossible.

When news emerged in June 2018 that 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach exploring a cave system in Chiang Rai Province had been trapped by a flood, an international rescue operation quickly swung into action.

Dr Harris’s expertise in emergency medical retrieval and cave-diving made him a vital member of the rescue team, and his contributions were later recognised with the 2019 Australian of the Year Award.

To reach the stranded boys, rescuers had to contend with a 2-3km journey through mountain caverns, the flooded parts of which were frequently too narrow to wear scuba tanks.

It took nine days for the first divers to reach the boys and their coach, and a further two weeks for the rescue to be effected – during which time a Thai diver delivering air tanks for the boys died after himself after running out of oxygen.

As well as being a practising anaesthetist in Adelaide, Dr Harris is an aeromedical consultant for South Australia’s emergency medical retrieval service.

His recollections of the miraculous cave rescue – and his insights on the challenges of caring for vulnerable patients in remote and austere environments – will be a highlight of the two-day “Roads, Regions, Resilience” Congress in Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Register now for either onsite or virtual attendance.