Amid a steady rain and with just 80 minutes to navigate through a mock mine emergency, 17 coal mine rescue teams competed earlier this month in the Governor's Cup Mine Rescue Contest at Southwest Virginia Community College in Cedar Bluff, Va.
A simulated coal mine was set up with placards signifying various hazards the teams would encounter on their way to locating five miners whose fates were unknown. Events such as this one serve as training vehicles for mine rescuers who may one day be called upon to search for workers trapped underground following a mine explosion, roof fall or inundation of water.
Also in attendance — but strictly as a spectator — was Alpha Natural Resources four-legged mine rescue team member. Ginny, a Dutch shepherd, is the first canine ever to be specifically trained to participate in surface and underground searches for missing miners.