LETTER OF THE DAY - Lessons from Chile's mine disaster and rescue
The Editor, Sir:
I had the privilege of watching portions of the rescue of the miners in Chile on television. I tried to analyse what I saw and imagined a more in-depth examination could be an excellent case study for decision makers in business, non-government organisations as well as for government officials.
The work we saw beginning on Tuesday night was a culmination of almost three months of research, sourcing of information and the execution of a world-class operation. The president of Chile listened to the family of the miners, who did not give up on their loved ones after the accident. His government responded by providing tangible support which led to the eventual rescue. The most qualified personnel as well as the most suited available equipment were selected within the limited time frame.
This complex operation as well as the existing condition were unique, but the hurdles in this difficult situation did not render it an impossibility. Those in charge did not try to reinvent the wheel. They studied the problem carefully to arrive at the best solution. Their resources included other mining organisations, government and professionals, as well as the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
There were several plans but one solution was selected and approved. It was tested before it was implemented. It was then perfected and the operation was repeated as many times as it was required.
During the entire operation, one had a sense of the accountability that existed. Naturally, the president and his minister were in charge. They made it known by their presence; they were at the location throughout the entire rescue period. They had assembled and empowered a competent team who did an excellent job.
Congratulations to the government and people of Chile, and to all who assisted them. It is good to see good government at work. As I watched the embraces of the miners and their families, I recognised the deeper meaning of 'Government of the people by the people'.
I am, etc.,