Chilean miners rescued from underground

January 21, 2011 8:52:48 AM PST
Houston has several ties to the rescue effort, including a local drilling company that helped make Wednesday's success possible. It's a thrill for Greg Hall to witness the miners emerge one by one.

"It's wonderful to see them," said Hall. "It's surreal to me to see that hole I stood over for so long and see the miners come out. It's just surreal."

Surreal since hall just returned from Chile. The 28-inch hole used to bring out the 33 miners was drilled with equipment owned by Hall. He's done business in Chile for 25 years and devised Plan B, the drilling plan to reach the miners.

"Where the miners were was about 700 meters down. There was a work room about 623 meters that could get to by ramp," Hall said. "So we actually, using Geotech's drills, drilled a pilot hole to that work room. So once we had that, we knew if we kept following that hole, we could always reach the miners."

While the technical challenges were daunting, Hall was equally challenged by the emotional aspect, especially being so close to camp hope where the miners' families waited.

"I purposely tried to stay away from there and when I talked to the miners in the hole, I tried to keep it technical, because I knew that if I let my emotions get involved, I could make a decision that would end up doing more harm than good," he said.

Halls says he never gave up hope and was inspired by the miners' own positive attitude.

"These people with all this could have given up very easily and they never did and it goes to show if you don't give up, you're never beaten," he said.

As for what's next emotionally for the miners, a local psychiatrist says that depends on one important element.

"It's going to be their family support, being around their loved one and having a sense of purpose," said Dr. Ray Hays with Baylor College of Medicine. "What's next for these men and women."