Israeli tech helps rescuers find lost soccer team in Thailand cave
'We haven't thought about nothing – just to save those kids' lives,' said Israeli entrepreneur Uzi Hanuni.
The world breathed a collective sigh of relief yesterday as rescuers in Thailand found the soccer team of 12 boys and their coach who had been stranded in a cave for 10 days. The moment, broadcast on screens across the globe, was nothing short of miraculous.
Supplies of food, electrolytes and medicine were sent into the cave to give to the beleaguered team. Next up: Doctors will assess their condition, and then rescuers will work on a way to safely extricate the boys and the coach from the cave.
Since the team descended into the caves on June 23, the narrow passageways have become flooded due to heavy rains in the area. “Trying to take nondivers through a cave is one of the most dangerous situations possible, even if the dives are relatively easy,” Anmar Mirza, a cave rescue expert, told The Associated Press.
Rescue workers and humanitarian aid arrived from at least six countries – including the United States and Israel. Helping with the efforts is an Israeli company called Maxtech Networks, which allows for mobile communication in places where there are no cell phone networks.
As soon as they heard about the mission, employees from the company gathered all the necessary equipment and hopped on a plane to Thailand. The company's founder and CEO is Uzi Hanuni, a serial Israeli entrepreneur and alumnus of Hebrew University. "We haven't thought about nothing – just to save those kids' lives," he said.
Workers fix the road leading to Tham Luang cave in Khun Nam Nang Non Forest Park following news that all members of children's soccer team and their coach were alive in the cave. (Photo: Lillian Suwanrumpha / AFP/Getty Images)
"We understood that the only way for those rescue teams that you see there to enter into this deep cave is using resilient and good communication that can survive this tough environment."
Yuval Zalmanov, a Maxtech engineer, has actually been embedded with the rescue team in the cave to help educate them on how to use the communication devices. "He decided to take this mission on his shoulders," Hanuni explained.
The device, which looks like a simple walkie talkie, is anything but simple. A high-tech algorithm is built inside the device. Rescue workers don't need direct line of sight and can communicate with each other up to about two miles away.
Israeli startups are no stranger to helping out in the aftermath of natural disasters. In September 2017, a company called Camero rushed to the scene after a devastating earthquake in Mexico. Their device actually enables first responders to see if there are people under the rubble and where they are situated. In addition, the system offers a first-of-its-kind capability to map the general shape of the room, behind the wall or under collapsed ceilings, with high sensitivity for detection of non-moving live objects. It can penetrate through cement, plaster, brick, concrete, drywall and other standard building materials.
Amir Beeri, a graduate of Tel Aviv University in Israel, is the company's CEO and co-founder. "It changes the game," he said. "Once you can see through walls, you can save lives and you can do things much more effectively."
As for the soccer team trapped in the cave in Thailand, time is of the essence. "We believe that there is only a short break in the monsoon and all feasible options for the rescue of the boys are being considered," said Bill Whitehouse of the British Cave Rescue Council, who is helping spearhead the mission.
Thailand’s interior minister, Anupong Paojinda, suggested the rescue attempt will be made over the next couple of days.
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Related Topics: Humanitarian