A global sigh of relief

They did it!

While the world waited and worried, 12 young soccer players and their coach, trapped for weeks in a flooded cave, swam safely back to the surface world escorted by brave and ingenious rescuers. The final group emerged Tuesday.

All the rescue team had to do was keep the boys and their young coach alive and calm in a low-oxygen cavern, pump out millions of gallons of water, teach some to swim in the water that couldn't be removed, teach crucial skills of scuba diving in almost no time, map the route in and out, place air tanks along the two-and-a half-mile route, time the rescue to avoid more flooding from monsoon rains and then, with everything at stake and so very much that could go wrong, lead them through murky water and murky air to the light at the end of the tunnel.

And they did it!

At the heart of the operation were Thai Navy SEALS and expert divers from many other countries, all of them trained in teamwork and ingenious solutions. Perhaps most important, these are people whose core training is not to fail. Around them were the concentric circles of other experts — in medicine, emergency response, psychology, geology, weather and the local terrain, both above and below ground. Widest of all is the global circle of humans who have been rooting for the lost boys and for their rescuers. For the frantic parents and families, there lay the glimmer of hope.

For the rescued team members, the next week will be one of medical quarantine, primarily to prevent infections from taking hold, but also with the benefit of providing time and quiet to come to terms with what will surely define their lives forever. Because, really, they should have died, should not perhaps ever been found. And they were saved.

Whenever lives depend on the skills and courage of others, the possibility exists that someone will lose his or her own life in saving them. That happened early in these rescue efforts, with the death of a 38-year-old Thai diver who lost consciousness and died while placing air tanks along the route. There is no telling in advance just which aspect of a rescue operation will be the one that proves the most dangerous, even fatal. It is a reminder that not only the novice swimmers, ailing after days in the cave, were in danger the whole time.

We rejoice with the parents, families and friends of the rescued team members and the people of Thailand, and we thank the rescuers for showing what human determination and cooperation can do, in the face of all odds.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Pat Richardson, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, retired Day editor Lisa McGinley, Managing Editor Tim Cotter and Staff Writer Julia Bergman. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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