Like most of you, I have read a good deal about the incredible, miraculous rescue operation that saved the 33 Chilean miners. I've learned some interesting things from the articles I've read and thought some of it was worthy of passing along to you, loyal reader.
This fascinating news story captivated the world, not only because of the drama but because there was legitimate reason to believe in a completely successful evolution even before the extractions began. America has always loved a winner, and this situation looked like it would produce lots of winners.
And so we watched as every one of the trapped miners was delivered back into the arms of family and friends. That's a gigantic human victory story that will warm the cockles of the chilliest of hearts.
But there's more to the story. There are lessons to be learned from this near tragedy, and there are congratulatory pats to be delivered to some deserving backs.
First is Chilean President SebastiÃ¡n PiÃ±era. PiÃ±era, upon learning that the miners were indeed alive, obviously made it clear that no effort would be spared, no expense refused to bring these trapped husbands, fathers, friends out of the deep hole. He gave the order and stood by it, apparently allowing the experts the absolute freedom to do their jobs and ultimately freeing the miners.
I don't know much about the politics of PiÃ±era, but it is clear that he is a resolute and humble leader. I mentioned his resolve earlier, but what is at least as important, and perhaps more important, is his demonstrated humility. He accepted help from people and nations more capable of rescuing his citizens than he was.
Here are some examples of the expert innovative talent that was brought to bear on this amazingly complicated situation:
NASA (yes, that's the USA!) sent two doctors, an engineer and a psychologist to the site in August. They stayed there until the mission was completed. The engineer, Clinton Cragg, designed the rescue capsule that was later built by the Chilean Navy. That capsule was named "Phoenix" for obvious reasons.
NASA stayed involved in the rescue operation, providing sustenance to the miners while they were trapped and during the rescue operation itself. They provided a liquid diet, high in vital nutrients and calories that was critical to maintaining the miners' health so the rescue could proceed as quickly as it did.
U.S. Navy doctors worked at the site and even descended into the mine to help assess the health of the miners before they boarded Phoenix. They were among the last to leave.
The drill rig that was employed on the site was supplied by Schramm, Inc., in West Chester, Penn. Schramm is a fairly small business with 165 employees. This is a company that was started in 1900 by a man with a dream. I'd say they've done him proud.
The cutting heads used in the drilling were made by Center Rock, Inc., located in Berlin, Penn. This small specialty company, which employs 70 folks, was founded by Brandon Fisher. Fisher started Center Rock, Inc., in 1998 when he was 26 years old. Think of what this young man and his proud crew can now tell their children and grandchildren about.
Cupron, Inc., of Richmond, Va., provided "super" socks that are made with fine copper fibers interwoven. The copper provided anti-bacteria and anti-fungus protection for the miners' feet. Any of you who may have served in the military or who have had to earn a living outdoors understands the value of healthy feet.
The temperature in the mine was 90 degrees and warmer. You can be sure the each miner was happy his buddies were wearing these gems.
Since this is a business column, I wanted to emphasize the creative solutions that were offered primarily by the private sector of the American business world to save these men's lives. Our Navy and NASA also performed expertly and continue to set the standard for global good.
All of these individuals who sacrificed their time and talents to help their neighbors in Chile made us proud. It reminds me of the Alabama song, "40-Hour Week":
This is for the one who swings the hammer, driving home the nail
For the one behind the counter, ringing up the sales
For the one who fights the fires, the one who brings the mail
For everyone who works behind the scenes
You can see them every morning in the factories and the fields
In the city streets and the quiet country towns
Working together like spokes inside a wheel
They keep this country turning around
Thank heaven for American ingenuity. Praise God for President PiÃ±era's humble leadership. And thank goodness for a perfect evolution to save our neighbors.
And from me, in this, my swan song in Neighbors, I'd like to say farewell to you, my neighbors, with the last line from that great song from Alabama: "Hello America, let me thank you for your time."
Jon Rembold is president of the Lady's Island Business Professionals Association and an Engineering Project Manager with the firm of Ward Edwards