Dr Richard Harris has been hailed as an Aussie hero. Picture: Facebook/Dive for Cancer
Dr Richard Harris has been hailed as an Aussie hero. Picture: Facebook/Dive for Cancer

Aussie accent crucial in saving Thai boys

AN AUSSIE accent was a key tool used to relax and reassure the 12 Thai boys in the incredible mission to save them.

One of the English divers who helped in the mammoth operation, John Volanthen, told the British press that heroic Aussie underwater cave explorer Dr Richard Harris was a crucial part in the rescue.

And, the 47-year-old IT consultant from Bristol told The Times that the Adelaide anaesthetist's Aussie accent helped keep the boys at ease during the tense mission.

"Dr Harris, he's very good, he's got a very good bedside manner, he's got a very bouncy Australian accent and they seemed to find that quite relaxing and reassuring," he told the newspaper.

Australian dive partners Richard Harris and Craig Challen. Picture: Supplied
Australian dive partners Richard Harris and Craig Challen. Picture: Supplied

The South Australian doctor, who is part of a small team of expert Aussie cave divers who have reached an almost legendary status in their field, was the last person to leave the Tham Luang caves after the Wild Boars soccer team was rescued.

He was joined by retired Perth vet Dr Craig Challen, who is also part of the prestigious dive group called the Wet Mules, and the pair thanked people for the messages of support in their first public statement yesterday.

"The favourable outcome that has been achieved is almost beyond our imagination when we first became involved in this operation," the pair said in a statement. "We are humbled to have been able to provide our expertise and experience to assist in this international operation led by the Thai government."

The pair were among 20 Australians involved in the Thai-led rescue effort. They were about to go on a holiday to the Nullarbor together when they got the call up for the perilous mission in northern Thailand on Thursday last week.

Rescuers from around the world are heading home today, as doctors said the boys they saved have so far not shown any significant ill effects from their ordeal.

Dr Richard Harris’ Aussie accent was said to calm the boys down. Picture: wetmules.com
Dr Richard Harris’ Aussie accent was said to calm the boys down. Picture: wetmules.com

The Australian team also included six Australian Federal Police divers, a navy clearance diver and members of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Crisis Rescue Team.

Dr Harris and Dr Challen gave a shout-out to the dozens of experts from around the world who helped in the evacuation which resulted in the death of one diver.

"Our thanks and greatest admiration go [to] the British lead divers, and support divers along the route in and out of the cave system from the EU, US, China and Australia, as well as the vast number of participants from military and civilian organisations in various support roles," they said in their statement yesterday.

"Additionally, we were only a small part of an Australian contingent comprising personnel from DFAT, AFP, and ADF who performed valuable roles.

"We particularly would like to thank the players and their coach for placing their trust in us. We wish them a speedy recovery."

Speaking on Wednesday via Skype to Malcolm Turnbull, Dr Harris brushed off the Prime Minister's praise.

There were 20 Australians involved in the Thai-led rescue effort. Picture: Thai Navy Seal via AP
There were 20 Australians involved in the Thai-led rescue effort. Picture: Thai Navy Seal via AP

"The big heroes in this are the children and the Thai Navy SEALs who were looking after them," he said.

"They are the toughest blokes and kids I have ever had the privilege to meet and without them being in the state they were in, we couldn't have done anything. That's where the credit lies."

But the SEALs beg to differ and have taken to Facebook to thank Dr Harris personally and Australia as a whole for their help in the rescue effort.

They also sent their condolences to Dr Harris, whose father passed away as the mission came to a dramatic conclusion earlier this week.

"Our condolences to Dr Richard Harris. We wish you the best for this very tough time." the post said.

"We never thank you enough for what you've done for the kids, their families and Thailand. Thank you, Richard and thank you, Australia."



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