Protection for miners as they ascend - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Protection for miners as they ascend

The miners' vital signs were closely monitored throughout the ride. They were given a high-calorie liquid diet donated by NASA, designed to prevent nausea from any rotation of the capsule as it travels through curves in the 28-inch-diameter escape hole.  Engineers inserted steel piping at the top of the shaft, which is angled 11 degrees off vertical before plunging like a waterfall.

Drillers had to curve the shaft to pass through "virgin" rock, narrowly avoiding collapsed areas and underground open spaces in the overexploited mine, which had operated since 1885.

Protections for the men were extensive: A video camera watched each ascending miner for signs of panic. They had oxygen masks and two-way voice communication, and wore dark glasses to guard their eyes against the sudden exposure to light.

They took aspirin and wore compression socks to prevent blood clotting, and donned sweaters for the change in climate -- from about 90 degrees underground to near freezing on the surface after nightfall.  At the regional hospital in Copiapo, two floors were prepared for the miners to be evaluated.

U.S. President Barack Obama praised rescuers, including a team from Center Rock Inc. of Berlin, Pa., that built and managed the piston-driven hammers that pounded open the hole.

Chile has promised that its care of the miners won't end for six months at least -- not until they can be sure that each miner has readjusted.

Psychiatrists and other experts in surviving extreme situations predict their lives will be anything but normal.

Since Aug. 22, when a narrow bore hole broke through to their refuge and the miners stunned the world with a note, scrawled in red ink, disclosing their survival, their families have been exposed in ways they never imagined.

Miners had to describe their physical and mental health in detail with teams of doctors and psychologists. In some cases, when both wives and lovers claimed the same man, everyone involved had to face the consequences.

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