Hollywood has already reportedly pencilled in Matt Damon to play his role if a film is made of the Chilean miners’ rescue, and Manuel Gonzales fits the bill for a hero.
He was the first rescue worker down the rescue shaft, and the last to come out. He made the decisions underground; who would be rescued first, and evaluated the safety risks once there.
“When I arrived in the mine everyone hugged me. They thanked me for being the first. But I was the happiest to see them. The first impressions were the strongest, the men wearing shorts because it was 40 degrees centigrade down there, and I was thinking ‘I’m going to be in this heat for 24 hours and they’ve had to survive it for 70 days’. They were very, very well-prepared, they’re organised guys, and they helped us a lot to run a smooth operation until the end,” he told reporters the day after the operation.
The rescuers certainly had something to congratulate themselves about. Together they helped 33 men cheat almost certain death and Chile, indeed the world, salutes them.