How NASA helped the trapped Chilean miners

Monday - 8/1/2011, 10:50am EDT

Dr. James Michael Duncan, deputy chief medical officer, NASA Johnson Space Center

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Being a federal worker often means having what it takes to keep the government running. But sometimes it also means saving lives.

Dr. James Michael Duncan was the leader of the NASA team that lent medical, engineering and survival expertise to save 33 Chilean miners trapped 2,000 feet underground for 69 days.

His team was on the ground helping rescuers last fall, and now their work has earned them a spot as finalists for a Service to America Medal, known as the federal community's Academy Awards for federal employees' efforts that make a big impact.

Duncan, the deputy chief medical officer at NASA's Johnson Space Center, joined the Federal Drive to talk about how he and the team pulled it off.

Hear all of our interviews with the 2011 Sammies finalists.