There seems to be a bit of fussing lately, both in print and online, about whether 'heroes' is an appropriate word for Beaconsfield survivors Todd Russell and Brant Webb.
Cue literary and cultural theorist Joseph Campbell, whose groundbreaking midcentury study The Hero with a Thousand Faces developed a notion grounded in Jungian archetype theory of a universal narrative pattern he called a 'monomyth' of the hero figure in all cultures.
Obviously there are wrangles to be had around cultural relativism and the ideological implications of this kind of psychoanalytic thinking. For the moment, though, this excellent little Wikipedia summary of Campbell's theory -- emphasis mine -- is food for some thought about the Beaconsfield rescue, and about not only the survivors but also the rescuers:
'The monomyth involves the hero receiving a "call to adventure" – to leave the ordinary world which he has psychologically or spiritually outgrown. After passing "threshold guardians" (often with the aid of a wise mentor or spirit guide) the hero enters a dreamlike world – generally a dark forest, a desert, an underworld or a mysterious island. After a series of trials in which the hero eventually surpasses his mentor, the hero achieves the object of his quest (often an atonement with the father, a sacred marriage or an apotheosis) before returning to his homeland, bringing with him a spiritual boon. Campbell wrote that almost all hero myths, throughout history and across cultures, can be shown to contain at least a subset of these patterns.'
The 'object of the quest' was obviously to get them(selves) out alive; you could say that the 'spiritual boon' was not only the sigh of collective national relief and happiness that went up, but also the new knowledge that the unprecedented rescue techniques and experiments have provided for mining practices and emergency services around the world.