Testing their readiness for worst-case mine rescue scenarios, 65 teams from 12 states put their skills and knowledge to work in the 2015 National Coal Mine Rescue, First Aid, Bench and Preshift Competition in Lexington, Kentucky this week.
Sponsored by the National Mining Association and administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, the four-day competition included team and individual competitions.
Alpha Natural Resources’ “Southern West Virginia Team” from Whitesville, West Virginia, won the Mine Rescue Competition while two of Arch Coal Inc.’s teams – Lone Mountain Processing Inc.’s “Lone Mountain Team” from Holmes Mill, Kentucky and Beckley Complex’s “Beckley Gold Team” from Eccles, West Virginia – rounded out the top three.
The winners in the event’s other competitions were:
Preshift: Alliance Coal Co. – Warrior Coal LLC’s “Cardinal Team” (Madisonville, Kentucky).
Bench Biopak 240R: Kentucky Coal Academy’s “MCC Team” (Madisonville).
Bench BG4: Revelation Energy LLC’s team (Cumberland, Kentucky).
First Aid: Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. – Oak Grove Resources LLC’s “Oak Grove Blue Team” (Hueytown, Alabama).
Day 1 Mine Rescue: Drummond Company Inc.’s “Shoal Creek Red Team” (Jasper, Alabama).
Day 2 Mine Rescue: Alpha Natural Resources’ “Southern West Virginia Team” (Whitesville).
Combination (Mine Rescue/First Aid): Mine Rescue Services LLC’s “Southeast Kentucky Team” (Corbin, Kentucky).
“Having been on the ground during a number of mine disasters and emergencies, I understand the importance of the skills competition that took place this week in Lexington,” said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. “I know firsthand what it means to call upon our mine rescuers at a moment’s notice after a fire, explosion or roof collapse, to travel miles underground to find and rescue missing miners.
“While we hope disasters never happen, the mine rescue training at these competitions prepare these teams for real-life emergencies,” said Main.
From Sept. 14-17, competitions challenged the teams with various tests of skills and knowledge:
Teams faced a hypothetical mine emergency problem, and were rated on how well they followed mine rescue procedures and how quickly they completed specific tasks (Mine rescue)
Miners inspected and ensured equipment such as multi-gas instruments and self-contained breathing apparatuses worked properly (Bench contest)
First responders demonstrated the correct method of caring for an injured miner (First-aid contest)
Examiners showed proficiency in identifying potential hazards before the start of a hypothetical shift (Preshift contest)
The mining industry held its first mine rescue competitions in 1911. The inaugural event took place in Pittsburgh with President William H. Taft among the dignitaries in attendance.