In 2018, Dr Richard “Harry” Harris was a major part of an international rescue mission that captured the world’s attention.
An Australian doctor and expert cave diver, Dr Harris played a crucial role in the rescue of 12 young boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand, helping to guide them through nearly four kilometres of water with visibility down to zero.
Dr Harris has a professional and voluntary interest in search and rescue operations, establishing the first sump (water-filled part of a cave) rescue training course in Australasia. The 2018 Thailand cave rescue was an opportunity to put his training into action.
In 2018 Dr Harris received the Star of Courage, Australia’s second highest civilian award for bravery, and the medal of the Order of Australia for his role in the Thailand cave rescue. He is the 2019 Australian of the Year for South Australia and the joint 2019 Australian of the Year with his dive partner Dr Craig Challen.
Dr Harris is the embodiment of our Ozwater'20 'Thirst for Action' theme. A truly remarkable man with an incredible story to tell, Dr Harris will share how he put his knowledge into action, as well as his insights on establishing a highly-effective emergency response team.
Given the extreme climatic conditions the water industry has been facing over the summer season, the development of emergency response teams in water utilities and local councils is becoming essential.