Compressor for the British Thai cave rescuers

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Compressor for the British Thai cave rescuers

January 08, 2019 - 13:40
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Alkin has ensured that (some) future cave rescue logistics are easier for British Cave Rescue Council cave divers.

John Timperley (left), Rick Stanton (right) and Baki Boke Topac (centre) with the compressor Alkin donated to the British Cave Rescue Council cave divers @ the 2018 DEMA Show | Image Credit / Copyright Rosemary E Lunn All Rights Reserved

We all know that the Tham Luang cave rescue was highly successful. What is less well known is that there were a number of logistical difficulties along the way for the British divers.

Logistical difficulties

When Rob Harper, Rick Stanton and John Volanthen arrived at Tham Luang cave after having flown overnight from the United Kingdom, they found the site in utter chaos. Stanton and Volanthen decided that they should conduct a reconnaissance dive to get a better understanding of the situation. Both men had flown with empty 7-litre cylinders. Now, they urgently needed to get them filled. This should have been a straight forward process, but it wasn’t. Eventually, Stanton and Volanthen found a small compressor that the Seals used. It was located next to the press conference area.

The media were not impressed when cylinder filling coincided with a press conference. John Volanthen

The media were not impressed when cylinder filling coincided with a press conference,” Volanthen recalled. The obvious solution was for Stanton and Volanthen to `liberate´ the compressor to a better location. It did not take long for the Seals to recover their compressor, but luckily, they did it after the Brits had filled their cylinders.

I know a man who can

Stanton later recounted his Thailand compressor adventures to John Timperley during the PADI Social at the 2018 DEMA Show. John Timperley runs C&R Testing in the UK, and he works with Alkin compressors. “It was clear to me that Rick needed an up-to-date lightweight compressor,” stated John Timperley. “It had to be something suitable not only for expeditions, but a compressor that could be packed up and flown to a remote destination for use on a future rescue. I spoke to Alkin and they kindly gave Rick a W31 compressor at the Las Vegas show.

Clean air on tap

I asked Stanton what this compressor would mean to the cave diving community. “This is going to be very useful to the British Cave Rescue Council cave divers. We now have a centrally located compressor in the UK (Coventry) that will make domestic and international rescue logistics so much easier. No more hunting for air! The W31 is small and light so we will be able to take it with us, and know our cylinders will be filled with quality breathing air. It will also enable us to continue certain cave diving projects in Europe. A few of us would like to get back to the Doux de Coly in Dordogne one day. At present, the cave is shut to diving, but we live in hope this won’t be a permanent situation.