Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Golborne is concerned about the miners being re-introduced to sunlight abruptly. Special sunglasses have been sent in an effort to make sure the miners don’t suffer damage to their retinas.
The miners have been monitored very closely since they were first trapped on August 5. The miners were given special shirts and shorts that pull sweat away from the body due to concern about skin infections. They’re also wearing special socks that help prevent athlete’s foot and other fungal infections. They’ve even had a series of vaccinations including a tetanus booster and flu shot to help boost their immune systems.
The men have been exercising for an hour a day. One of the miners, Yonni Barrios, is a paramedic and has been weighing his fellow miners daily, taking blood tests and doing daily urine analysis. That information is downloaded to a Palm Pilot that has been sending the information back to the surface so that medics and personal trainers can check to make sure the miners are well. They have been tailoring the miners’ exercise routines to the day’s figures.
Dr. Bailus Walker, an environmental and occupational medicine expert at Howard University Medical Center, says one concern is the effect the barometric pressure will have on their bodies as they’re brought up. “You’ll see muscular aches and pains in the joints called ‘the bends’ as a result of the decompression. You could see some respiratory difficulties called ‘the chokes.’ You’ll see increased blood pressure, and some lung damage–but the adequate supply of oxygen should keep lung problems at a minimum.”
Experts say psychological adjustments will be a huge factor. “These men spent 20 days totally cut off in the dark until the fist bore hole was made,” Linenger said. “So they were in survival mode, which is tough psychologically because you are in a life and death situation.”
Once out, the miners will be examined on site and hospitalized for a mandatory two days. During that time they’ll be monitored and receive physical and mental health care. Doctors will keep an eye out for things like nightmares, panic attacks, anxiety and claustrophobia, among other potential issues.