MSHA recently honored the commitment and sacrifice made by mine rescuers in its third annual Mine Rescue Day.

The day (Oct. 30) was set aside to promote the importance of mine rescue and acknowledge the teams of people — both past and present — who have responded to mine emergencies.

Currently in the U.S., about 300 mine rescue teams are certified and equipped to perform mine rescue operations. Rescuers train in first aid, firefighting and emergency communications, and compete in mine rescue competitions nationwide to sharpen their skills and ready themselves for an actual mine emergency.

The date chosen for Mine Rescue Day has historic significance. On Oct. 30, 1911, Dr. Joseph A. Holmes organized the first national mine rescue demonstration at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. In 1910, President William Howard Taft appointed Holmes as the first director of the U.S. Bureau of Mines.

Today, wireless and fiber optic communication systems allow real-time discussion between rescue teams underground and officials in the surface command center.