Dr Richard Harris SC OAM has become a frequent name in both national and international media after his heroic involvement in the Thai Cave rescue. His previous cave diving experience combined with his expert medical knowledge, saw him advise, overlook and navigate the treacherous and dangerous conditions to save the lives of twelve young soccer players and their coach.
In 2019, Richard 'Harry' Harris, alongside Dr Craig Challen SC OAM, was named as the first dual Australians of the Year, for their role in the rescue mission to save 12 boys from flooded Tham Luang cave in Thailand.
Having worked with AusAID in Vanuatu for two years, Dr Harris helped to provide much needed medical services in the developing nation’s health system, including anaesthesia and intensive care. Dr Harris currently works at South Australia's emergency medical retrieval service, MedSTAR as an Adelaide anaesthetist.
Richard’s diving career spans across thirty years and has seen him complete some record-breaking and daring expeditions. His passion for underwater exploration has seen him work on documentaries, feature films and with teams from across the globe in the roles of diver, underwater cameraman and medical support. He is a member of the Explorers Club of New York.
In 2011, his diving skills were called upon to rescue the body of his friend, after she became stuck underwater and ran out of oxygen. He was required to navigate eight kilometres of undesirable conditions filled with twisting underwater passageways to recover her body.
In both 2011 and 2012, Richard led a team of Australian divers to record depths of 194 and 221 metres in search of the source of the Pearse River. The mission's complexity and danger was all recorded for National Geographic.
In 2018, Richard's skills and expertise was specifically called upon by the British divers participating in the Thai cave rescue operation. He helped perform health and fitness assessments on all of the boys and advised officials of the timing required for them to all make it out safely, changing the plans to ensure the safety and survival of all of the boys and their coach. As part of the rescue, he was required to dive, swim and climb to safety along a pitch-black tunnel, that at certain points barely allowed an adult to fit through, with some spaces only being 38cm wide. Risking his own life, he was the last person to come out of the caves on completion of the mission. Richard was awarded the Star of Courage for unwavering and selfless bravery following the successful rescue of the trapped soccer team and the Order of Australia for “service to the international community”.
He recently received an Australian award for Outstanding Contributions to Cave Exploration.
Both Dr Craig Challen and Dr Richard Harris have released 'Against All Odds' - The inside account of the Thai cave rescue and the courageous Australians at the heart of it.
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