On August 5, 2011, the San Jose Mine, a small copper operation in northern Chile owned by Minera San Esteban Primera suffered a cave-in (Weik, 2010, p.65). Thirty-three workers were trapped 2,200-feet underground although facts, footage, and speculations of the disaster unraveled on the surface, which was covered by news stations around the world.
As most of the world watched through the eyes and words of reporters, hoping for the miner’s safe rescue and return, many had doubts. “While few Chileans dared say it out loud, most of the country felt the miners were probably dead. But Fidel Báez believed in his heart they were alive” (Yang, 2010, p.1). As the first few days turned into weeks, family members and loved ones of the 33 trapped miners held vigils outside of the mine entrance, at a make shift camp, which they named “Camp Hope” (Yang, 2010, p.1). Families, along with the rest of the world watched and waited for information on the proposed rescue plan.
During those darkest days of not knowing, the families must have found comfort with each other. As other families of trapped miners were the only people who could understand what each individual was feeling and the uncertainty that no one wanted to concede. As the rescue efforts continued what information and details were given the families who lived at Camp Hope. This saga closely followed would show classic patterns of human behavior under extreme pressure with an exact ending of this drama, especially the timing, remaining uncertain. Going forward, the story is not about life and death. It is about endurance, resilience, and the power of hope.
For 17 days loved ones of those trapped should have received counseling to pray for the best, but be prepared for the worse. Any information obtained by the experts should have been shared with all families of the trapped miners. Grief counseling would have been a necessity. Once that drill hit an opening, indicated by the air pressure disappearing, the families would need to bond together to endure whatever future lied ahead. As fate would have the families along with the rest of the world would soon receive a note from below stating “we are fine in the refuge, all 33 of us” (Yang, 2010, p.1).
During the following weeks that soon became months, families and loved ones needed to continue working with a support system among themselves and also with an expert who had been trained in disaster situations or crisis intervention. While prayers from around the world are sent from people these families will never meet, a potential concern, probably in the back of their minds, but definitely present would have been a financial one. Needs of the families were not just limited to emotional matters but also to financial concerns. Families in this type of position need to focus on their faith and health and not if the bills will be paid. The miner’s families need time to cope and deal with whatever loss may lie ahead, while the miner’s employer should make sure that those financial concerns are addressed and handled.
As a community, workers of this mining company would also have experienced the same concerns and emotional issues plagued by many of the families. Coworkers, who remained safe while their friends were buried alive, would need counseling and information to sustain them through the next couple of weeks. The thoughts of “it should have been me” had to have been evident and in abundance among the men whose only position was to wait to see and what fate would hold for their friends.
As addressed to the families of those trapped, all employees would face financial concerns as long as the mining company ceased all operations while rescue efforts where underway to free the 33 miner’s trapped 2,200-feet below the earth’s surface. As all able personnel, including hundreds of people who did everything possible to free their trapped coworkers and friends, the mining company would need to make sure that the financial needs of all employees were met.
It was a complete team effort from the company owner to last person on the payroll that helped to free the 33 miners who remained trapped under the earth’s surface for 69 days. Shaun Robstad a volunteer from Okotoks, Alta., just outside of Calgary, said it best “It comes up everyday; I wonder what it’s like down there…I don’t think they went to work that day thinking they wouldn’t be getting out” (Yang, 2010, p.1).
Courtney from Study Moose
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