Two Chilean miners who survived their traumatic 2010 experience trapped underground can, unfortunately, relate to the Thai soccer team stuck in a cave.
Eight years ago, Omar Reygadas and Claudio Acuna along with 31 other miners became trapped 2,300 feet in a Chilean copper mine for 69 days. Rescue finally came in a dramatic flair as a televised audience comprised of millions watched worldwide.
Both events are and were heavily focused on by the media. While rescuers succeeded with the team, and the miners became celebrities upon their freedom, the team still suffered psychological trauma.
When The Times talked with the Chilean miners over the phone, they urged those in contact with the boys to help them focus on the positives. Thoughts of reuniting with families help with nerves. It’s also essential, the miners stressed, to avoid words or actions making them feel more victim than they already do.
Alberto Iturra, the psychologist that headed the team to treat the mental trauma of the miners’ after their rescue said it is important to return them to their normal lives as soon as possible.
Reggadas said their youth is an asset in this situation, at least physically since they have more stamina when young. However, the mental part could play against them.
The older ex-miner suffers from a mood disorder along with dizziness he attributes to his time in the mines. Most days he struggles with depression and has had some trouble finding work.
Acuna also had flashbacks to his time trapped underground at the news of the Thai boys. He has PTSD and struggles to support his family including four children.
Acuna has the same advice as his fellow miner, to try to keep calm and know it’s normal to worry. Staying in prayer will help because God knows what he’s doing.
Past Experiences with Chilean Miners Help Dictate How to Better Take Care of Thai Boys Before and After Rescue
The psychologist, Iturra said that while no one can prepare for the surprise of something like this, there are methods to help reduce the stress of the situation.
For the miners, they developed a culture of survival that kept them alive and healthy. Each person assumed meaningful leadership at different times. No one person could stand the pressure of being the designated leader for the length of their entrapment.
The coach, Ekkapol Chantawong has been crucial in keeping the sanity of the Thai boys together. According to reports, he led them in meditation which helps lower the anguish that comes with the situation.
If handled correctly, this could become an essential event in the boy’s lives, leaving no damage and could also boost self-esteem, according to Iturra. The situation with the miners was handled poorly, with mistakes like not returning them to their normal lives quickly enough.