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MSHA News Release No. 99-0925
Mine Safety and Health Administration - USDOL
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: 703-235-1452

Released Saturday, September 25, 1999

Utah and Kentucky Teams Win Other Phases of Contest
Teams from Illinois, West Virginia Are Winners in National Mine Rescue Contest

Peabody Coal Company of Marissa, Ill., took top honors at the 1999 National and International Mine Rescue, First Aid, EMT and Bench Contest held in Louisville, Ky., this week. Eastern Associated Coal Corporation's Federal No. 2 of Fairview, W.Va., and Southern Appalachia Operations of Wharton, W.Va., finished second and third, respectively. The contest is sponsored by the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

> In the international competition, the U.S. team represented by MSHA's Mine Emergency Unit finished first, followed by Ukraine, Russia, Canada and Poland. This is the first year in the contest's 88-year 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. Forty-five teams from 11 states participated in this year's contest.

> "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."

"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."

> 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.

> For a complete listing of mine rescue teams and their standings, visit MSHA's web site at

Note to TV Stations: A video news release featuring contest winners in your market are being express mailed to you.

Note to Radio Stations: For a sound bite of the contest, please call (800) 877-9002.