Hundreds of people tested their ability to rescue trapped coal miners recently in a search-and-rescue exercise conducted by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).
The mock mine emergency drill, which lasted eight hours, involved miners, federal and state officials and local law enforcement and emergency responders and took place at Mountain Coal Company’s West Elk mine in Gunnison County, Colorado.
Although the scenarios was scripted with various challenges and twists that unfolded as the day progressed, participants did not know the outcome of the scenario in advance. Actors, a smoke machine and other effects were used to make the drill as realistic as possible.
New technologies such as real-time mapping, underground tracking and the MSHA’s new emergency command vehicle were used during the exercise, enabling participants to hone their skills.
"Mine rescue teams are the backbone of emergency response in the mining industry," said MSHA Assistant Secretary Joe Main. "Since there is no such thing as being overly prepared for a mine emergency, we believe very strongly in the value of these types of exercises."