Dr Richard Harris, Australian of the Year for 2019

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Please sign this  petition if you believe that Dr Richard Harris should be honoured with an Order of Australia medal, for the Australia Day honours in 2019, for his commitment and efforts in the rescue of 13 people from a deep underground flooded cave in Thailand.

The philosophy behind the nomination of The Order of Australia medal is that  "The purpose of the Order of Australia is to recognise, by national honour, those who have made outstanding contributions that benefit their communities, and ultimately our country".

Dr Harris's humanitarian efforts should be acknowledged.

With the most highly dangerous cave diving rescue ever attempted and recorded, in July 2018, Dr Richard Harris - supported by the highly trained and experienced AUSMAT team, along other international expert divers, was pivotal in the safe extraction of 12 boys of the Wild Boar Junior Soccer team, along with their coach from a deep underground, flooded cave system near Chang Rai in Thailand. Dr Harris is a highly trained specialist cave diver with elite rescue and retrieval qualifications and is also a specialist in hyperbaric medicine and an anaesthetist, was in fact, the last man to leave the cave after all others were out. The sheer magnitude of such an urgent and compelling rescue demonstrated the dangers to the rescuers when an ex Thai Navy seal died from asphyxiation due to a lack of oxygen, when trying to reach the boys.

Such a demanding, dangerous and technically difficult rescue, required a complete understanding of the surrounding geography, hydrology with cave mapping and of the weather and climatic systems impacting the site and rescue attempt. Coupled to that, required a sound risk management plan that encompassed a complete detailed plan which included knowledge the cave system, access and restrictions, knowledge and functionality of all available SCUBA and rebreather systems and supply, gas management, lighting, communication and infrastructure supports to include bottled gases at staging stations, life support systems resources and advanced rescue and retrieval techniques, whilst managing health and any physical emergencies to effect the plan safely and without casualty or other incident.