Thai Soccer Team Rescued from Cave—With a Little Help from Israel 

July 12, 2018

by: Ilse Strauss

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Personnel and equipment in the entrance chamber of the cave during rescue operations

Thursday, 12 July 2018 | The story tugged at the world’s heartstrings. For over two weeks, a global audience hoped and prayed alongside the people of Thailand as the fate of 12 trapped young soccer players—between the ages of 11 and 16—and their coach unfolded deep in a flooded cave system. With no way to escape by themselves, dwindling oxygen supplies and a forecast for torrential rain, the situation seemed hopeless. Yet joy and relief echoed around the world when news broke on Tuesday that an international team of expert divers managed to lead the entire Wild Boar soccer team and their coach through the treacherous 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) underwater maze of the cave system to safety. Experts from seven countries—including Israel—participated in the operation that is now hailed as “one of the greatest rescues in history.” Moreover, the rescue efforts relied on cutting-edge Israeli emergency mobile technology to maintain communications between the rescuers and the trapped group.

The team and their coach went missing on June 23 while exploring a cave in a sprawling 10-kilometer [6.2-mile] cave system in northern Thailand. Once inside, heavy rainfall resulted in rapidly rising water levels, trapping them inside. Thai emergency services launched a large-scale search shortly after their disappearance, while teams from Australia, China, Israel, Laos, Myanmar, the UK and the US soon joined the efforts. The delegation from Israel was one of the first to arrive on the scene, touching down in Thailand only two days after the disappearance and bringing with them cutting-edge search-and-rescue technology developed in Israel.

The group was missing for nine days before two British divers discovered their location. While rescue efforts were launched immediately, several factors hindered the attempts. Apart from rising water levels that turned the exit route into a flooded maize devoid of sufficient oxygen, first responders lacked the means to communicate with the trapped boys and their coach. Emergency mobile technology developed by Israeli company Maxtech Networks provided the answer to the latter problem.

Maxtech CEO Uzi Hanuni explained that Thai naval special forces contacted the company representative in Thailand right after the team disappeared. Maxtech is the supplier of the patented Max-Mesh mobile professional radio, “a device that enables mission-critical communication of professional mobile radios through virtual infrastructure, even when no physical infrastructure is available,” reports NoCamels.

“They approached him and said they want them,” Hanuni told ISRAEL21c. “From that point on everything was clear to us. We knew that we would do whatever we could to save these boys.”

On June 25, two days after the team and their coach went missing, Maxtech software engineer Yuval Zalmanov flew to northern Thailand carrying 19 Max-Mesh radio units to show the rescue crew how to use the technology.

The units communicate wirelessly between one another—one device at a time. “It took 19 of the devices to complete the link to the boys in the cave. They have enough battery power for 10 hours’ use at a time,” Hanuni told The Times of Israel.

The cutting-edge technology came with a price tag of more than US $100,000, but Maxtech offered their units free of charge. “We as a company decided to contribute devices to save those kids,” Hanuni says, “It’s very simple. When there are children at risk, you don’t think twice coming from a place like Israel. It’s in our nature.”

The Max-Mesh system was used to provide a voice, data and video link between the boys and the outside world as well as between the rescue team.

“These caves are very long, and you can’t send messengers back and forth through them, but the divers need to be in constant contact with their base so that everyone knows where they are. No other system could work here, except ours.”

The rescue team used the Max-Mesh devices to communicate with one another. It was also through the Max-Mesh unites that footage of the trapped group was transmitted to the outside world.

Now that the team and their coach have all been rescued, Hanuni is overjoyed at the helping hand that Israel was able to lend in their safe return. “Our representative there has been crying the entire time—and he, like us, is ecstatic that the kids have been found.”

Posted on July 12, 2018

Source: (Bridges for Peace, 12 July 2018)

Photo Credit: NBT/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia