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DOL News Release No. 01-350
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Thursday, October 11, 2001

News Release

Teams from Pa., Ill., and W. Va. Take Top Honors
2001 Mine Safety and Health Administration National Mine Rescue Contest Results

WASHINGTON-Consol Energy, Inc.'s Enlow Fork Mine of West Finley, Pa., took first place in the 2001 Mine Safety and Health Administration's National Mine Rescue, Bench and First Aid Contest held in Louisville, Ky., last month.

Energy West Mining's Silver Team, of Huntington, Utah, and the American Coal Company's Galatia Mine of Galatia, Ill., finished second and third, respectively. Thirty-eight teams from 10 states participated in the bi-annual competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

"The incidents of September 11 have demonstrated to us how absolutely essential are the skills of search and rescue personnel," said Dave Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Right now, mine rescue teams in Alabama are working around the clock to recover the bodies of their fallen brothers," he added, referring to last month's explosions that killed 13 miners at Jim Walter #5 mine in Brookwood, Ala.

Galatia Mine took top honors in the bench competition, in which miners who maintain rescue equipment must thoroughly inspect breathing devices that have been purposely tampered with and must correct those defects as quickly as possible. Lodestar Energy Inc. of Clay, Ky., and Mingo Logan Coal Co.'s Mountaineer Mine of Wharncliffe, W.Va., finished second and third, respectively.

Eastern Associated Coal Corp.'s Southern Appalachia A Team, of Twilight, W.Va., won the first aid competition, followed by Energy West Mining's Silver Team #2 and Eastern Associated Coal Corp.'s Southern Appalachia B Team of Fairview, W.Va. In the first aid contest, competitors tackle real-life medical emergency scenarios.

Mine rescue competitions require 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 safety procedures and how quickly they complete specific tasks.

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.