As the danger worsens each hour, the rescue efforts to free the imperiled Thai soccer team is ramping up. Whereas before some had thought the boys could stay in the cave for as long as four months until the floodwaters receded, it turns out that time is running out.
They’re running out of oxygen. According to CNN, oxygen levels have been measured at around 15 percent. Navy SEAL Rear Admiral Arpakorn Yookongkaew said Friday that he wasn’t sure how long the boys would last after consuming the oxygen in the cave for the past 14 days.
The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration explains that the “optimal range” of oxygen needed in the air by a person in order to function normally is between 19.5 and 23.5 percent.
"We originally thought the young boys could stay safe inside the cave for quite a long time but circumstances have changed," said Yookongkaew.
As oxygen drops, the body’s ability to function healthfully declines. The body is at risk of developing hypoxia, which causes altitude sickness.
"The first thing that happens to the body as oxygen levels decline is, you have a signal to make you breathe more. It's totally analogous to climbing a mountain and going up to, say, 10,000 to 12,000 feet when the oxygen pressure declines," said Dr. Norman H. Edelman, senior adviser to the American Lung Association.
"So the first thing you feel is a need to breathe more; you may feel a little lightheaded; you may feel a little dizzy. They may have trouble sleeping; they may have headaches while they sleep," he said.
The other problem lies in how much carbon dioxide is being produced as the boys exhale, said Edelman. “When carbon dioxide goes up, that’s a strong stimulus to breathe, so they’ll begin to feel short of breath,” he said.
Please pray for the safety and rescue of these boys, as well as for the rescue team. This is a developing story.