Skip to content

MSHA News Release No. 99-0915
Mine Safety and Health Administration - USDOL
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: 703-235-1452

Released Thursday, September 15, 1999

Simulated Mine Disaster is Setting of Controlled Chaos
Teams from Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Canada to Compete in U.S. Mine Rescue Contest

Beneath the earth's surface where coal miners toil, emergencies can come fast and deadly. When fire breaks out, when the mine roof collapses, when methane threatens to explode, the thin line between life and death is often marked by specially trained teams of men and women who must be skilled at their craft and quick in their response.

Mine rescue team members are highly trained specialists with lifesaving skills they hope they'll never need to use. On Sept. 22, 23 and 24, more than 40 rescue teams from around the country and outside the United States will compete in the 1999 National and International Mine Rescue, First Aid, EMT and Bench Contest at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky. This is the first year in the contest's history to feature foreign teams.

Mine rescue competitions are designed to test the knowledge of miners who might be called upon to respond to a real mine emergency. The contest requires six-member teams to solve a hypothetical mine emergency problem -- such as a fire, explosion or cave-in -- while judges rate them on their adherence to mine rescue procedures and how quickly they complete specific tasks.

"When you watch a mine rescue contest, you cannot help but marvel at the physical and emotional effort these men and women expend," said Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Never mind that it's a staged emergency. These contests are treated like the real thing, because mine rescue teams never know when they'll be called upon to rescue their colleagues who have become injured or trapped underground."

Among others, rescue teams from Canada, Poland, Russia and Ukraine will participate in the international segment of the contest, and delegations representing several other nations will be on hand to observe the competition. MSHA will host a press conference at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the contest site featuring top mining officials and members of international delegations.

"The mining industry all around the globe faces safety and health challenges," McAteer said. "These challenges are more difficult in some parts of the world than in others. As all of us struggle to find ways to prevent mining disasters, MSHA welcomes this opportunity to share our technical expertise with other countries. This first-ever international event will focus also on exchange of information, on equipment, training, technical support and how we might assist each other in times of need. The bottom line, of course, is that we all can learn from each other."

In other phases of the competition, benchmen -- those individuals charged with maintaining rescue equipment -- must thoroughly inspect breathing devices that have been purposely tampered with and must correct those defects as quickly as possible. In the Emergency Medical Technician contest, a primary and secondary EMT tackle real-life scenarios. EMTs are certified and provide medical care until the patient arrives at the hospital. In the first aid contest, participants must demonstrate the correct method of caring for an injured miner.

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.

Schedule of Events

Tuesday, Sept. 21
8 a.m. -- Bench competition
9 a.m. -- First aid competition
2 p.m. -- EMT competition

Wednesday, Sept. 22
8 a.m. -- Preliminary mine rescue competition

Thursday, Sept. 23
8 a.m. -- Preliminary mine rescue competition continues
9 a.m. -- International mine rescue competition
11 a.m. -- Press conference

Friday, Sept. 24
8 a.m. -- National mine rescue competition (finals)
7:30 p.m. -- Awards banquet


Note to Radio Stations: To access the Labor Department's radio actuality service featuring a soundbite from Davitt McAteer on the mine rescue contest, please call (800) 877-9002.

Note to TV Stations: A video news release on mine rescue contests has been express mailed to the station's assignment editor.



Drummond Company, Inc., Shoal Creek Mine Team, Jasper
Jim Walter Resources, Inc., No. 4 Team, Brookwood
Jim Walter Resources, Inc., No. 5 Team, Brookwood
Jim Walter Resources, Inc., No. 7 Team, Brookwood
State of Alabama, Team #1, Sumiton
State of Alabama, Team #2, Sumiton
The Pittsburgh & Midway Coal Mining Company, North River Team, Berry
U.S. Steel Mining Company, LLC, Oak Grove Team, Adger


Twentymile Coal Company, Twentymile Gold Team, Oak Creek


Consolidation Coal Company, Rend Lake Mine Team, Sesser
Illinois Dept. Of Natural Resources - Office of Mines & Minerals, Gold Team, Benton
Monterey Coal Company, Pathfinders Team, Carlinville
Peabody Coal, Marissa Team, Marissa
The American Coal Company, Galatia Team, Harrisburg
Addington Coal, Turris Team, Elkhart
White County Coal Corporation, Pattiki Team, Carmi


Indiana Bureau of Mines, Indiana State Team, Vincennes


Arch Coal, Inc., Lone Mountain Processing, Inc. Team, Lynch
Consol of Kentucky, Inc., Consol of Kentucky, Inc. Team, Mousie
Lodestar Energy, Inc., Baker Team, Clay
Peabody Coal Company, Camp Complex Team, Morganfield
Webster County Coal Corporation, Dotiki Team, Providence


Southern Ohio Coal Company, Meigs No. 2 Team, Athens
Southern Ohio Coal Company, Meigs No. 31 Mine Team, Athens


Consol PA Coal Company, Bailey Team, West Finley
Consol PA Coal Company, Enlow Fork Team, West Finley
Consolidation Coal Company, Dilworth Team, Rices Landing
Consol, Inc., R & P Coal Co., Keystone #1, Shelocta
Cyprus Cumberland Resources, Cumberland Mine Team, Waynesburg
Cyprus Emerald Resources Corporation, Cyprus Emerald Team, Waynesburg


Tennessee Department of Labor, Volunteer No. 1 Team, Caryville


Energy West Mining, Blue Team, Huntington
Energy West Mining, Silver Team, Huntington


Consolidation Coal Company, Buchanan #1 Team, Mavisdale
Island Creek Coal Company, Island Creek Consol Team, Oakwood
Jewell Smokeless Coal Corporation, "A" Team, Vansant
Paramont Coal Corporation, Blue Team, Wise


Consol Energy, Inc., Shoemaker Mine Rescue Team, Wheeling
Consolidation Coal Company, Blacksville No. 2 Mine Team, Wana
Eastern Associated Coal Corporation, Federal No. 2 Team, Fairview
Eastern Associated Coal Corporation, Southern Appalachia Operations Team, Wharton
Massey Coal, Elk Run Team, Sylvester
Mingo Logan Coal Company, Mountaineer Mine Rescue Team, Wharncliffe
U.S. Steel Mining Company, LLC, Pinnacle Team, Pineville
Windsor Coal Company (AEP), Windsor Team, West Liberty

International Teams

Teams representing Canada, Poland, Russia and Ukraine