Syracuse native helps lead rescue in Thailand

Syracuse native helps lead rescue in Thailand

Syracuse native Derek Anderson is a rescue specialist with the United States Air Force.

"I think the world just needs to know that what was accomplished was a once in a lifetime rescue that I think has never been done. We were extremely fortunate the outcome was the way it was," Anderson said.

The 32-year-old graduated from Syracuse's Faith Heritage School in 2003. He recalls the moment the Thai cave rescue started.

"The mouth of the cave was dry when we arrived, and within an hour and a half it had already at least two or three feet, and we were being pushed out," Anderson said.

He said the air in the cave was dense and limited which increased the urgency.

"The condition of the air in the cave was deteriorating so, that really started to put a sense of urgency," Anderson said.

The team had to have a strategic plan in place to ensure safety. Each boy was handled by dozens of people as they were guided through a total of nine flooded cave chambers.

"This type of cave diving you have to lay line or rope it's your lifeline so without that you have no idea of a disorientation you're underwater and the water is completely muddy," Anderson said.

Anderson said the most critical thing was staying calm. Everyone involved knew this mission was high risk, high reward.

"If you lose your cool in an environment like this, there is a lot of bad repercussions," Anderson said.

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