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Close healthwatch on miners before ascent

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Close healthwatch on miners before ascent


There is no instruction book explaining how to maintain the health of people trapped 700 metres below ground for two months.

With the rescue just hours away emergency teams said they were delighted with the progress they had made.

But during their incarceration the risk of serious illness has proved a major worry.

Alejandro Pino from the Chilean Safety Association said: “The concern to our medical staff was that someone could have had a renal colic or appendicitis problems. Any kind of such disease worried our medical staff.”

The rescuers made it a priority to send medical supplies to the miners who have carried out regular physical and psychological tests on themselves.

The Chilean Safety Association’s Jean Romagnoli demonstrated some of the equipment. He said: “This is an example of one of the devices that miners are using to monitor their health. It measures, for example, heart rate and respiratory rate.”

They have been in good health and good spirits all through their underground imprisonment.

Over the past week, the tests have picked up pace.

Two doctors – one from Chile’s navy and another from the mining company – will contact the men just before they begin their ascent for one final round of preparations.

The specialists are wary of the risks posed by both a rise, or indeed a rapid fall in blood pressure, caused by the speed of the ascent.

They also fear the risk of blood clots. To counter that threat, the 33 miners have been taking aspirin since Sunday. They will also wear compression socks and a type of corset.

Six hours before they make the trip, the men will take a medicine developed by NASA to counter nausea. The rescue pod is expected to spin a dozen or so times during the 20 minute journey to the surface.

And stress is an ever present threat, not only during the rescue operation, but also in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Franco Utili, who is an emergency doctor at Chilean Catholic University, said: “This is a syndrome that can cause problems with sleep, nightmares, bouts of anger, changes in eating habits and all this can be caused by the person re-living the moment of rescue, or of when they got stranded inside the mine.”

Since the cave-in at the beginning of August, the miners have shown extraordinary strength of character and optimism.

Those are two qualities the doctors on the surface believe are key to a successful end to the men’s ordeal.

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