Australian doctor playing key role in Thai cave rescue

Richard Harris, a world-renowned medic and diver whose presence in the rescue of the Wild Boars squad was requested by experts, was reportedly the last person to leave the water-logged cavern.
Richard Harris, a world-renowned medic and diver whose presence in the rescue of the Wild Boars squad was requested by experts, was reportedly the last person to leave the water-logged cavern. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/RICHARD HARRIS

BANGKOK - An Australian doctor is one of the international dive experts at the centre of the effort to rescue a group of Thai boys and their football coach trapped in a cave in Chiang Rai.

Dr Richard Harris, an anaesthetist from Adelaide, undertook the dangerous dive to the boys and their coach on Saturday (July 7), reported The Sydney Morning Herald.

He gave the final review on the boys' health, paving the way for the rescue attempt on Sunday that led to four boys being extracted.

It is understood that British divers participating in the rescue specifically asked for Dr Harris' expertise, and that he went back into the cave to assist in the operation.

Mr David Strike, a dive event organiser who has known Dr Harris for more than a decade, said Dr Harris had all the characteristics needed for the dangerous mission.

"He's been diving for over 30 years, and readily embraced advances in diving technology to better help him explore and photograph caves in Australia and overseas," Mr Strike told Fairfax Media.

"In the past few years, he's been involved in cave-diving explorations in Australia, China, Christmas Island and New Zealand. He has an active interest in diving safety and accident investigation.

 
 
 

"Quite apart from his own cave exploration experiences, as an anaesthetist and a medical professional who is also involved in retrieval medicine, he has always struck me as a person who is capable of calmly assessing any situation and then acting appropriately.

An operation to rescue the remaining boys and their coach resumed on Monday, said several officials with knowledge of the operation at the Tham Luang cave in the northern Thai province of Chiang Rai, reported Reuters.

Dr Harris and another Australian friend of his, as well as six Australian Federal Police divers are involved in the rescue.

"Richard is just one member of a team of uniquely qualified and extraordinary people prepared to sacrifice their own comfort, safety and well-being for the benefit of others. It's an over-used term, but all of those involved are true heroes," Mr Strike said.