on air now

Hero who saved boys from Thai cave says he had ‘zero confidence’ the against-the-odds rescue would work

In studio with Neil Mitchell

One of the Australian heroes who rescued 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded Thai cave has opened up about the against-the-odds rescue.

Dr Richard Harris, an anaesthetist and avid cave diver, said he only agreed on the plan to sedate the boys prior to getting them out of the cave after all other options had been exhausted.

“I had zero confidence it was going to work,” he said.

“How can you possibly render someone unconscious and then immerse them for what would be three hours out through this coffee-coloured water?

“It crossed my mind that I was actually euthanising these boys.

“The only way I could proceed to do that was this thought that ‘well, if they’re going to die anyway, at least they’ll be asleep when it happens.”

Dr Harris and Dr Craig Challen, another diver involved in the rescue, were this year named joint Australian of the Year for their efforts.

The anaesthetist said he hasn’t had much time to practice medicine this year, and is considering turning his hand to something new.

“I’ve been a doctor for a long time now,” he said.

“I’m 55. I started medical school when I was 17, so that’s a solid chunk of time. If another opportunity comes now that takes me in a different direction I think I’m open to different possibilities.”

Press PLAY below to watch the full interview.

A book about the ordeal, Against All Odds by Richard Harris & Craig Challen, is on sale now.

Press PLAY below to listen to the interview.


In studio with Neil Mitchell