Getting the kids out safely

Some of these kids can’t swim, they’re fatigued, water currents are strong in some sections.   I sat down, and said to myself — you have 1 minute to save these kids, what would you do?


Iteration 1, fast to assemble

Tough Pelican-like case (something custom is described in Iteration 2 below).

  • Find ideal waterproof case.
  • Strap in 2 medium sized air tanks to the internal sides where the kid’s legs would be, add a pressure relief valve (probably 2 for redundancy) to vent CO2.
  • A child sized version of something like OTS Guardian Mask BUD-D2 Buddy Phone
Rescue divers would have the same mask, allowing voice communication during extrication.
  • Add handholds and something for the kids to lodge their feet against.
  • Add padding inside to protect the kids.
  • Ideally, a vitals band with telemetry link to the divers.

The bottom half of the container can be designed similar to this image.

Two divers work each container with a kid.  When they hit a dry patch, they remove the kid, and use the wheels to drag the container along.  Multiple sturdy tie points will need to be added to the container to hoist and lower over boulders and land obstacles.  Don’t forget child-sized climbing harness to get the kids up and down tough dry sections. 

Other divers stash these same sized tanks along the way, to replace depleted tanks in the containers.

Containers go in with lots of food, weighted for buoyancy, tested to match approx weight of kids.  These containers going in with food and coming out with kids are going to have to be very close to neutral buoyancy to make tight passages manageable.

Iteration 2, custom design

With most of the thinking the same, a custom shell is created that is hydrodynamic, with aeration holes in the top lid.  This is designed to be a wet interior, less issues with buoyancy and CO2 venting.  The kids would need a small wetsuit to maintain core temperature.  This design allows both the kids to see out, and more importantly, for the rescue divers to periodically check on the kids well-being.  Please excuse the crude drawing, but time is of the essence.

Iteration 3, ultra light pivoting roll-cage design for tight passages

The image is poorly drawn, but the concept is an open roll cage design with pivoting sections that allows bending through tight constrained underwater passages, while remaining reasonably hydrodynamic.

Sending positive thoughts to the kids and all of the brave rescue work!

Eric Hammond (Austin, TX)