Rescue of the Chile Miners
The world had been transfixed by the rescue of 33 miners trapped nearly a kilometer (about a half a mile) underground in the San Jose mine near Copiapo, Chile. On October 13, 2010 seeing the men emerge from their 69-day-long ordeal had been emotional for everyone involved, as well as for those of us just watching from afar.
To survive, they had to endure constant 90 percent humidity, avoid starvation, battle thirst, guard against fungus and bacteria, and stay sane enough to safely do the work necessary to aid their own rescue. Yet even if they accomplished all that, they faced another danger: that of constant darkness.
Decades of research has shown the human body is built to function on the rhythm of the rising and setting sun. If sunlight doesn’t tell our brains when we should be asleep—and if we don’t eat, exercise, and sleep on a fairly regular daily schedule—humans can develop all sorts of health problems over time, from irregular metabolism to heart disease to deficiencies of key vitamins. Disruptions to our body’s 24-hour clock can impair motor skills (proof: doctors who toil over long shifts are far more likely to get in car accidents). They can make us irritable or depressed. To feel the effects of those disruptions each day would be like trying to live life in a constant state of jet lag.
All of this was bad news for doctors trying to care for the men trapped 2,230 feet underground. To be sure, some of the potential problems for the men had easy fixes: a 3.19-inch-wide supply line provided them with food, water, and nutritional supplements such as vitamin D, which replaced the nutrients they were not getting from sunlight. But the physical and psychological toll of the darkness was harder to combat. A tired miner could sink slowly into depression, leading to debilitating emotional issues before or after he returned to the surface. He could make a mistake as the group worked to build the bottom part of its rescue shaft, injuring himself or another miner at a time when none of them had access to emergency medical care. A miner already at risk for diabetes could develop it if he lacks a daily eating and exercise routine.
One way to keep the miners on a daily routine was to simulate light and dark periods during each day. The men were already designated light and dark areas in the roughly half-mile-long tunnel where they were living.
Chilean authorities, were aware of these risks, and made the miners’ daily routine a priority. Each miner had daily jobs to do.
The men were lifted back to the surface through an escape hole just 28 inches across. The entire operation took 22 hours. Each rescued miner rotated 10 to 12 times in the NASA-designed skinny capsule on the 2,000-foot journey.
Below are two links given which show how these miners came up after spending two months underground.
Please view these to be inspired by the greatness of the human spirit.
Tags: a success story, chile mine, chile miners rescue, chile miners trapped, chile rescue, chilean, chilean miners, miners in chile, miners of chile, miners rescue, miners trapped, story of courage, the chile miners
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