01:30 PM

6 Years Later: Nonin’s Role in the Chilean Miners’ Rescue

They rose to the surface one by one in a small capsule called the Phoenix. A slow, deliberate rescue, following 69 days of entrapment.

With the entire world watching, the 33 miners stepped out of that capsule in Copiapó, Chile on October 13, 2010.One of the men raised his fist in triumph. Another immediately knelt down to pray. Each man shared something in common, and it was clipped to his index finger.

It was a Nonin Medical Bluetooth® OEM wireless pulse oximeter. An Onyx® II 9560 wireless fingertip pulse oximeter, to be exact. And Nonin’s employees couldn’t have been prouder to see their trusted product in the international spotlight.

The conditions more than 2,300 feet below ground were treacherous. The miners battled not only starvation and dehydration; they also suffered from breathing in dirty air for months. Emergency crews waited at the surface to treat them, and the pulse oximeter helped doctors understand each patient’s condition, since only Nonin Medical has clinically proven accuracy of performance claims in the widest range of patients and settings.

A pulse oximeter measures heart rate and oxygen levels in the blood. The medical stats were then sent wirelessly to a device made by Nonin’s partner, Zephyr Technology. By wearing the pulse oximeters on the 20-minute, half-mile trip to the surface, doctors were able to watch for signs of physiological stress. A complicated rescue, made confident by the use of a simple Nonin Medical device.

It’s been six years since one billion people watched Nonin’s devices perform under extreme conditions during the amazing day-long rescue. The dramatic rescue was immortalized in the 2015 globally-acclaimed movie - “The 33,” starring actor Antonio Banderas. This same technology has been used countless times since then - not just by emergency crews and field military personnel, but also by clinicians and patients worldwide, as part of their everyday lives.

Doctors need the information a pulse oximeter gives for remote patient monitoring. Without this technology, patients would have to travel to the office, where clinicians would use bulky hand-held pulse oximeters or complicated blood tests. Nonin’s technology creates a crucial connection, providing accurate data to the doctor and peace of mind to the patient.

There’s no way Nonin Medical’s founder, Phil Isaacson, could have predicted such an amazing rescue when he set out with a goal of making noninvasive measurements simple, while inventing the first fingertip pulse oximeter more than 20 years ago. Throughout the years, Nonin’s technology has made noninvasive measurements more affordable and accessible through new applications, from EMS to field military, as well as clinics, hospitals and homes.