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MSHA News Release No. 95-036
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: (703) 235-1452

September 29, 1995

MSHA TO SPONSOR 1995 NATIONAL COAL MINE RESCUE CONTEST

The top coal mine rescue teams from around the country will gather in Louisville, Ky., Oct. 16-19 to compete in the National Mine Rescue, First Aid, EMT and Bench Contest. The event is sponsored by the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

"Mine emergencies present extraordinary challenges, and the men and women who will participate in this contest represent the very best among coal mine rescue teams," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "They have devoted a considerable amount of their time to sharpen their skills and, in the event of a real mine emergency, they will be the first ones summoned."

More than 500 participants are expected to compete in the contest, which will be held at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville. Each coal mine rescue team, composed of six members and two alternates, is required to navigate a series of simulated problems -- such as might be encountered in a mine fire or explosion -- to locate and rescue trapped miners.

In the first aid contest, participants must demonstrate the correct method of caring for an injured miner. Teams are judged on the use of proper application of skills according to the fundamentals of first aid.

In the bench competition, participants must thoroughly inspect breathing apparatus for possible defects which, if not corrected, could threaten the life of rescue team members.

This year marks the addition of an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) portion of the contest, in which a primary EMT and a secondary EMT tackle real-life scenarios. EMTs are certified and provide an unbroken chain of medical care until the patient arrives at the hospital.

State and federal mine safety experts will evaluate each team as they work through their rescue problems in a simulated mine environment. Teams are rated on adherence to safety procedures and how quickly they complete their particular task.

The mine rescue contests for coal and metal/nonmetal mine rescue teams are held in alternate 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.

For more information on this year's contest, contact Joseph Pavlovich at (606) 546-5123 or Jesse Cole at (304) 256-3223.