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DOL Media Advisory - MSHA 05-613-DEN
U.S. Department of Labor
Contact: Dirk Fillpot
Phone: (202) 693-4676

Released Thursday, April 7, 2005

Mine Rescuers Test Their Skills in Simulated Mine Emergency

CARLSBAD, N.M. - Mine rescue teams may be tapped to battle mine fires, contain underground floods, and rescue their colleagues trapped beneath layers of rock or disoriented by toxic gas. These teams undergo rigorous training to develop skills that, should they ever need to use them, could save lives. The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration, along with the Southwestern Region Mine Rescue Association, will co-sponsor the Southwestern Regional Mine Rescue contest April 7 and 8 at the Pecos River Village Conference Center. The contest begins at 8:00 a.m.

"These contests test the skills of mine rescue teams in a simulated mine emergency environment," said David G. Dye, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Naturally, we hope those skills will never be needed, but their fellow miners can feel confident knowing that, even in competition, mine rescue team members demand of themselves the highest standards in mine safety."

The contest consists of several events. In the field competition, teams must solve a hypothetical mine emergency problem while judges rate them on how well they adhere to mine rescue procedures and how quickly they complete specific tasks. In the benchman contests, individuals who maintain rescue equipment must thoroughly inspect breathing devices and gas equipment and correct all defects as quickly as possible. In the first-aid contest, emergency medical technicians tackle real-life scenarios.

Mine rescue training began in the United States in 1910. The training efforts evolved into local and regional competitions leading up to the national contest which is held annually, with coal and metal/nonmetal competitions alternating each year.