The successful rescue of twelve boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Thailand was aided by Xylem’s dewatering expertise in challenging environments. Four of Xylem’s experts were on site and recommended a reconfiguration of the pumps that increased the flow by 40 percent, which drained the cave’s chambers more quickly.
On June 23, the soccer team and their coach were exploring the cave after a soccer practice. Heavy monsoon rains poured in, blocking the entrance to the cave. On July 2, more than a week after they disappeared, divers found the soccer team nearly three miles into the cave.
“I arrived in Thailand on my way to Singapore for the Water Week event early last week, just before the boys had been identified,” says Patrick Decker, President and CEO of Xylem. “As I began to watch the news stories and I saw the water being pumped out, I thought there has got to be some way that we as Xylem, a global leader in water technology, could help.”
Using his network in Thailand, Decker was able to contact the governor of Chiang Rai on Thursday, July 6. The governor graciously allowed Xylem’s four experts, from the US, UK, Singapore and Thailand, to begin helping with the pumping operation on Friday, July 7.
“It wasn’t about bringing more pumps to the site, it was about going in and looking at how we might be able to use our expertise to increase the flow of the pumps they already had,” Decker says. “We made recommendations that increased the flow by about 40 percent. That was enough to actually drain the first three chambers, and lower the fourth chamber, which hopefully provided some way for them to begin the extraction efforts on Sunday.”
On Monday, July 9, Xylem also airlifted back-up pumps and equipment, in case a back-up plan would be needed.
“This is a team sport, and we played a very small role in helping those heroes on the ground, which are the governor, the entire military operation, those divers, and everybody involved in this,” Decker says. “It was absolutely fantastic.”
By Tuesday, July 10, all of the twelve boys and their soccer coach had been rescued from the cave.
“I’m so proud of my colleagues who worked at the cave site during the rescue, including Bobby Spinner, Adam Drakeley, Tassanai Poopat and Ryan Ng, as well as the entire global project team that supported them,” Decker says.