Working up a sweat

By: Courtney Harrington

            On August 5, a mine collapsed in San Jose, Chile, trapping 33 men 2,000 feet beneath the earth’s surface. It took workers 17 days just to find the group of miners alive. The men had been surviving off “two spoonfuls of tuna, a sip of milk, a bite of a cracker and a morsel of peaches every other day” before workers were able to send down foods and liquids. Some of the men trapped by the collapse were overweight, which created a problem because the men were to be brought up in a capsule with a width of around 62 centimeters, or about two feet wide.

            In order for some of the men to fit through the rescue shaft, they had to work to lose weight. The size of the area that all 33 men were located was

The 33 miners that were trapped 2,000 feet beneath the earth had to lose weight in order to fit inside the capsule that would bring them to the surface. Photo courtesy of Google images

around the size of two large hotel rooms combined, so there was not much space for these men to truly move around. However, health officials organized an exercise program to help the miners stay in shape and maintain their “mental well-being.” “We’re working to determine a secure area where the miners can manage things. The space they’re in actually has about two kilometers of galleries to walk around in. We hope to define a secure area where they can establish various places – one for resting and sleeping, one for diversion, one for food, another for work,” Dr. Jaime Manalich, stated.

            To help avoid depression, rescue teams created ways to keep the men entertained. The entertainment program included singing, movement games, card games, ways to record songs, make videos and theatrical works of art. Fortunately, reporters claimed that the men took the information in a calm manner regarding how long they would be stuck underground.

            Throughout the 17 days the miners were without contact, they were said to have lost a significant amount of weight due to lack of eating. When workers were able to begin sending foods down, they sent more nutritious foods to help aid weight loss. Milk-like drinks filled with calories and proteins were one of the items sent down for the men. Because the men were unable to really eat for a long period of time, the men had to be eased into eating solid foods in order for their digestive systems to be able to handle it.

            Luckily, the 33 miners trapped beneath the earth began their journey up the rescue shaft one by one on the night of Tuesday, October 12. The men were finally able to see land again after 69 days, but the health issues are still present. One of the main concerns the rescuers had, was how each miner would react to the small space in the capsule. It was said that it took about 20 minutes to bring each man up while the capsule was spinning. Claustrophobia and panic attacks are two problems the miners suffered from while on their way up. Panic attacks are said to seem very similar to heart attacks. Another concern they had for these men was low blood pressure due to the living environment in which the men had been.

            As family and friends were waiting anxiously for their loved ones to be brought up, medical teams were positioned all over the site. These 33 men are now able to say, “I’m alive, I did it.”


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