Australian diver Craig Challen has revealed what was done to make sure the 12 trapped boys and their soccer coach made it out of the Thai cave alive.
Mr Challen was with hero Adelaide doctor Richard Harris as they helped the boys prepare for the impossible.
“I still am sitting here not really believing that it’s all worked and we got such a good outcome,” Mr Challen said.
The Australians were called in and were expecting the worst. When he first arrived in Thailand, Mr Challen thought it was a body recovery mission, not a rescue.
He didn’t think the boys could survive for months underground.
Each day of the operation they told the boys to decide among themselves who should leave next.
He said sedation was the trick that got them out alive, with each member of the soccer team sedated before extraction.
“They didn’t know what was going on [during the rescue],” Mr Challen said.
“The worst thing that could happen would be one of those guys panicking.
“If you put me in a full-face mask with no previous experience and dragged me out of a cave for a three-hour trip, then I would be terrified and probably panicking as well.”
Now the Wild Boars soccer team is counting down to Thursday when they’re expected to be discharged from hospital.
Physically, the boys are on the mend, but it’s their mental health doctors are worried about. There are fears they could develop post traumatic stress disorder.
Doctors say the best thing for their recovery is to get back to their families and back to their everyday routine.
But they’ll always have a cave painting by locals as a reminder, marking a time when the hope of the world triumphed.