Yes, We Can Help

On Tuesday, October 12, right around 8:00 p.m., people all over the world watched as what is being called a miracle unfolded. By night fall on Wednesday, October 13, nearly 24 hours later, the event was (finally) over. 

One by one,  33 miners who had been stuck underground in a Chilean gold and copper mine for 69 days were brought to the surface.  The world rejoiced and many of us publicly admitted to tears of happiness as each of these men were safely reunited with family and loved ones.  Of course, throw in a little bit of scandalous drama when miner #21 had more than one ‘loved’ one hoping for his safe return. 

Alberta is more than 12,000 kilometres away from the mine site and while we don’t know these 33 men personally, we felt connected to them and extremely proud of the rescue efforts.  I think our feeling of connection stems from several reasons; thanks to technology, we have been ‘involved’ in this disaster since it occurred back in August.  And most of us have followed the updates through the media or social networks along the way.  If the comments on Facebook and other social networking sites are any indication we were all moved in a very similar fashion when the rescue started and ended, successfully.

While the rescue efforts were underway, we also learned that Canadians had another reason for feeling proud of the happy ending – our country actually DID play a part in the event.  Precision Drilling’s Rig 421 (TSX:PD) had been idle in Chile for a brief time, so when the Calgary-based company was asked if they could help drill a hole to free the trapped men, they didn’t hesitate to help.  

Another Canadian company, Atco Structures and Logistics (TSX:ACO.X) also provided assistance through their joint-venture partner, Tecno Fast Atco.  In just a few weeks, they created a plan to have portable structures in place for shelter and initial first aid treatment stations once the miners were above ground. 

There’s a lot of emphasis being placed on corporate social responsibility (CSR) these days, and don’t get me wrong – CSR has its place and needs to be a good investment -  for everyone involved.  But sometimes, and this is one of those times, basic human need takes precedence – someone needed help, and when they asked for it, they got it.  Not because it would mean positive publicity for those companies who participated, but because 33 people were stuck underground and in danger of losing their lives.   Good for you Precision Drilling and Atco Structures & Logistics.  Good for anyone and everyone around the world who stepped forward and said, “We can help”, and then did. 

Was the mine rescue a miracle, a feat of technology or a bit of both?  I think it was a blend of all things coming together, and it really started with some basic human caring and compassion. 

Let’s just call this a daily day of caring – on a Global scale.  “When someone needs your help and you’re able to oblige, no matter where in the world, just say yes.”

Do you know of other Canadian assistance that played a part in this historical event?  Please let us know in the comment section of this blog.  Or, share how you felt as you watched the safe rescue of these 33 brave men and knew that Canada had played a part in this happy ending.   


Nancy Critchley is the Director, Communications for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region.