Founder, Hydronauts Diving
Only North American Diver Involved In Heroic Thailand Cave Rescue
Erik Brown is the Founder of Hydronauts Diving, a premier recreational and technical diving school in Koh Tao, Thailand.
In 2018, he was the only North American diver involved in the largest rescue operation of his generation. He was part of the team of divers assisting the government of Thailand in the extraction of 13 children trapped in a cave in Northern Thailand. He was a main support and rescue diver, highly involved in the extraction of every kid over the span of 2 weeks in Chang Rai.
Originally from British Columbia, Erik is a professional diver of 15 years. Starting his diving career in Australia in 2004, his interest in underwater video and technical diving quickly took him around the world as one of the world leading technical diving instructors. In 2010, Erik was a founding member of Team Blue Immersion in Dahab, Egypt. TBI was at the forefront on technical training and provided logistics from numerous documentaries, world record dives, and training seminars.
Erik is a sponsored diver with some of the world’s leading dive companies, including Fourth Element, Ocean Reef, and Hollis. Erik was the primary videographer on Expedition Alexander Hamilton; an expedition that saw a 4-person team of divers place a memorial plaque on the first American ship sunk in World War 2 off the coast of Iceland.
When not travelling around the world exploring caves and wrecks worldwide, Erik spends his time teaching specialized technical courses, and preaching safety principles and the teamwork required to be a successful diver.
It was the story that captivated the world in the summer of 2018. Twelve members of a junior football team and their coach were rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand. The general understanding of the events is known. However, there is much more to the story, and Erik is willing to share. Integral details from the inception of the search, setup, and execution of the rescue are presented along with many little-known facts that almost drastically changed the outcome of the rescue. This is a front row seat to history; a personal insight to the trials and tribulations, and the intricacies of one of the largest and most intense rescues of all time.
In this team-building focused keynote, Erik recounts the unity between the vast amount of people involved in the heroic Thai rescue effort. From 2000 military, 1000 police, Marines, divers, cooks and countless volunteers, each person played a vital role. This presentation explains a lot of never-before-heard behind the scenes drama surrounding the mission. Using humour and personal anecdotes, he also recounts how the sudden ‘chain of command’ was formed and followed, and how numerous specific skill sets were used to create a positive outcome against all odds. Somehow, quickly, under the gun, this team of 9000 became cohesive.
In this safety-focused talk, Erik focuses on the risk management elements and logistics involved in a mission as big and complicated as the Thailand rescue dive. He first explains cave diving itself. Most people understand obvious factors which provide the basis for the inherent risk associated with scuba diving. In truth, scuba diving is far safer than driving a car or walking down the street. Cave diving however, is a different story; a simple, single mistake can be fatal. This talk uses the events in Thailand to showcase how procedures, forecasting, teamwork, and proper training and equipment can mitigate these risks. Images and slides will be showcased in parallel to actual procedures and real events during the Thailand cave rescue that could have gone much worse if safety wasn’t always a priority.