Project Management Institute

Mission Possible

To Save a Thai Youth Soccer Team, Project Leaders had to Manage Life-or-Death Risks

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PHOTO BY LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

The world was watching in July when a youth soccer team was rescued from a cave in Thailand after being trapped for more than two weeks. But the rescue team's data-based approach to risk management helped make a daring mission possible.

The channel to the chamber where 12 players and their coach were trapped was 1.93 kilometers (1.2 miles). So the rescue team got help from a U.S. company to generate an interactive map of the cave. Using satellite imaging and sound communication, Intermap Technologies created a model within three hours of the request. The map helped the rescue team identify danger spots in the cave route.

“They need to know what the terrain looks like, they need to know what the elevations are if they need to drill [and] they need to know what the best drill points are,” Intermap Technologies CEO Patrick Blott told TV station CBS4 in Denver, Colorado, USA.

Rescuing a single child required divers to traverse several hours each way. So the team had divers practice maneuvers with volunteer children at a local pool to ensure they were able to identify water-related rescue risks.

“So many things could have gone wrong, but somehow we managed to get the boys out,” Thailand Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakham, a rescue team member, told The New York Times. “I still can't believe it worked.”—Amelia Garza

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