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Thai cave rescue doctors are named joint Australians Of The Year

‘We love you’: Thai soccer team praise the brave doctors who pulled them from the depths of a flooded cave as they’re named joint Australians Of The Year

  • Retired vet Craig Challen and anaesthetist Richard Harris won the honour 
  • Thai boys thanked them for saving their lives, saying ‘we love you, all the best’
  • Panel noted the pair showed ‘selflessness, courage and willingness to help’

Two expert cave divers who helped rescue a Thai soccer team from a flooded cave have been named joint Australians Of The Year.

Retired vet Craig Challen and anaesthetist Richard Harris received the honour in Canberra on Friday night.

In a recorded message played to the audience on a TV screen, the Thai boys thanked the pair for saving their lives, saying ‘we love you, all the best.’

Dr Harris said after the message: ‘That’s the first contact we’ve had with the boys so thank you for that.’

Mr Challen added: ‘There are 13 families that still have their sons. That’s what floats my boat.’  

Craig Challen (left) and his dive partner, Adelaide anaesthetist Richard Harris (right), have already received the rare Star of Courage for their roles in the risky July 2018 rescue mission 

All 12 children and their coach were saved during the rescue mission after spending over two weeks in the cave 

All 12 children and their coach were saved during the rescue mission after spending over two weeks in the cave 

The panel noted the pair showed ‘selflessness, courage and willingness to help others’. 

The pair have already received the rare Star of Courage for their roles in the risky July 2018 rescue mission in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. 

The children, aged between 11 and 17, and their coach, 25, entered the cave on June 23 after their team practice, but were trapped when heavy rains flooded the cave system. 

All 12 children and their coach were saved during the rescue mission after spending over two weeks in the cave.

Working up to 12 hours a day with a team of military and medial experts, the pair repeatedly risked their lives as the children were ushered through the narrow, dark caves.

Dr Harris’ job was to sedate the boys before they were ushered through the caves. 

Working up to 12 hours a day with a team of military and medial experts, the pair repeatedly risked their lives as the children were ushered through the narrow, dark caves 

Working up to 12 hours a day with a team of military and medial experts, the pair repeatedly risked their lives as the children were ushered through the narrow, dark caves 

The heartwarming first picture of the boys from  being treated at a hospital in Chiang Rai province, Thailand after they were rescued from the cave

The heartwarming first picture of the boys from being treated at a hospital in Chiang Rai province, Thailand after they were rescued from the cave

He said on Friday night: ‘It was our best worst plan – we had no choice. I had no confidence at all that it would work and we would get the boys out alive.’

In his acceptance speech, Dr Harris said he wanted to inspire young children to explore despite our ‘risk adverse society.’

He said: ‘I really want to inspire young people to get outside and explore and have an adventure and build some resilience through doing that.’ 

Rescuers hold an evacuated boy inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave during the daring and treacherous rescue mission

Rescuers hold an evacuated boy inside the Tham Luang Nang Non cave during the daring and treacherous rescue mission

During the rescue, seven Royal Thai Navy Seals and a medic joined the boys in the cave and the youngsters were given diving lessons as authorities continued to weigh up the two options – wait for conditions to improve or bring the boys out as soon as possible.

Both were fraught with danger and a stark reminder of the risk came when a former navy Seal aiding the rescue effort died from a lack of oxygen during his mission.

With further flooding expected and oxygen running low, it was decided to guide the boys out through nearly a mile of flooded caverns and tight passages.

The joy that greeted the emergence of the last of the team on July 10 – after 18 days underground – rippled around the world.   

Working up to 12 hours a day, rescuers repeatedly risked their lives as the children were ushered through the narrow, dark caves to safety 

Working up to 12 hours a day, rescuers repeatedly risked their lives as the children were ushered through the narrow, dark caves to safety 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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