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MSHA News Release No. 97-0919
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere or Kathy Snyder
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Friday, September 19, 1997


Consol Pennsylvania Coal Company's Bailey Team of Graysville, Pa., won first place yesterday in the mine rescue competition at the 1997 National Mine Rescue, First Aid, EMT and Bench Contest which was held Sept. 16-18 at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. Island Creek Coal Company's B-Team of Oakwood, Va., and Kerr-McGee Coal Corporation's Galatia Mine Rescue Team of Harrisburg, Ill., were the second- and third-place winners in the mine rescue portion of the contest, sponsored by the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Mine rescue contests are designed to sharpen skills and test the knowledge of miners who may one day be called upon to respond to a real mine emergency. The contest requires teams of six members each to solve a hypothetical rescue problem while being timed and observed by judges according to precise rules. The simulated problem involved trapped miners who had to be located and rescued. State and federal mine safety experts evaluated each team as they worked through their rescue problem in a simulated mine environment. Teams were rated on adherence to safety procedures and how quickly they completed their task.

"Competition of this kind calls attention to the need for the highest standards in mine safety," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health. "These rigorous exercises help mine rescue teams be ready for tomorrow's emergency by preparing today. Naturally, we hope their skills will never be needed."

The Energy West Mining Company Silver Team of Huntington, Utah, took first place in the First Aid portion of the competition. In the first aid contest, participants must demonstrate the correct method of caring for an injured miner. Teams are judged on proper application of skills according to the fundamentals of first aid. In the first aid event, second and third place went to Eastern Associated Coal Corporation's Federal No. 2 Team of Fairview, W.Va., and Jim Walter Resources, Inc.'s JWR #1 Team of Brookwood, Ala.

Eastern Associated Coal Corporation's Coal River Team of Seth, W.Va., took first place in the combination mine rescue/first aid competition, in which scores for both events are combined. Eastern Associated Coal Corporation's Harris Team, of Twilight, W.Va., and Energy West Mining Company's Silver Team of Huntington, Utah, took second and third place in the combined mine rescue/first aid competition.

Top honors in the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) portion of the event went to Premier Elkhorn Coal Company's Team No. 1, of Myra, Ky. In the EMT contest, a primary and secondary EMT tackle real-life scenarios. EMTs are certified and provide an unbroken chain of medical care until the patient arrives at the hospital. Second and third place in the EMT contest went to Kerr-McGee Coal Corporation's Galatia Mine Rescue Team of Harrisburg, Ill., and Lodestar Energy, Inc.'s A Team of Clay, Ky.

Roger Carpenter of Eastern Associated Coal Corporation's Federal No. 2 Team, Fairview, W.Va., took first place in the bench competition. Benchmen are charged with maintaining the rescue equipment. In the bench competition, participants must thoroughly inspect breathing devices that have been purposely tampered with, and they must correct those defects as quickly as possible. Second and third place winners in the bench competition were Todd Watson of Lodestar Energy, Inc.'s West Kentucky Team, Clay, Ky., and James Schuessler of Cyprus Emerald Resources Corp.'s Cyprus Emerald White Team, Waynesburg, Pa.

The national mine rescue, first aid, EMT and bench contest for the coal mining community is held in odd-numbered years.

Mine rescue training began in the United States in 1910, the year the U.S. Bureau of Mines was created. Joseph A. Holmes, the bureau's first director, sought a training vehicle that would provide the mining industry with a cadre of mine rescue specialists who would be prepared to respond to mine disasters. The training efforts evolved into local and regional competitions and, a year later, a national contest. President William Howard Taft was present at the first national competition.

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See all the results and details of the 1997 Mine Rescue Contest.