Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chilean miners’ disaster response shows us how it SHOULD be done

I had a post all ready to go about how Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year, but in an effort to add to the already extreme number of blogs talking about the Chile miners’ rescue, I’d like to give my two cents.

This topic does kind of ties in with Halloween though, the more I think about it. Thirty-three guys, undoubtedly dirty and ornery, trapped in an area that comfortably holds 10, in total darkness for the better part of two-plus months – that sounds like a nightmare I had once after a night of mixing red wine and spiced rum then devouring a Tony’s frozen pizza right before bed.

There are many factors you can point to throughout this process that are awe-inspiring, or at the very least, amazing. One thing I found pretty astonishing was the considerable lack of BS on the part of those involved with the accident, i.e. the government, the unions, management and “concerned citizen groups.”

The mantra throughout this ordeal was that a tragedy occurred and lives were at stake – so let’s get it done by any means necessary. We’ll worry about the particulars AFTER the 33 human lives are saved. I’m not so sure we could have pulled this effort off in the U.S. to be quite frank.

I’m not trying to be anti-patriotic here by any means, but it’s a fact that disasters such as these are breeding grounds for the most, shall I say, “opportunistic” of people, and that’s unfortunate. I’m also not saying this sentiment is exclusive to the U.S., but it seems to be pretty ubiquitous around here.

There wasn’t weeks of finger pointing before deciding who would be responsible for the cost of extracting the miners, there was no oversight committee that needed to make a recommendation, there was no considering NOT taking help from a foreign country for fear of having to return a favor… it was let’s pool whatever resources available and get these men out. And that was refreshing, even if it took 10 weeks because of the depth and the fact that there was no precedent.

A radio show host yesterday asked his listeners what’s the first thing they do after exiting that steel transport structure, after being entombed for 69 days. He had his serious callers (hug and kiss your family), comical callers (have a pizza delivered to the rescue site and go to town on it) and realistic callers (shield your eyes from the flashes of the cameras). I posed the same question to my wife and had to laugh at her response, because it’s so right on: “I’m going to a freaking doctor and then sitting in a hyperbaric chamber for a month.” Yeah, she’s in the medical field.

It’s true, the struggle for these guys is nowhere near over as they begin to deal with the physical and emotional tolls this experience put on them. But surely they’ve all come out of this with a better appreciation for life. Hopefully everyone else did too.

Come on back at 4 p.m. for the Ride.

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