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MSHA News Release No. 98-0710
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere or Rodney Brown
Phone: (703) 235-1452

FMC Corporation Takes First Place in National Mine Rescue Contest

FMC Corporation's FMC Red Team of Green River, Wyo., won first place yesterday in the 1998 National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest, which was held July 8 and 9 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev.

General Chemical Soda Ash Partners' General Chemical Black Team, also of Green River, Wyo., and Morton International, Inc.'s Grand Saline Team from Grand Saline, Texas, were the second- and third-place winners in the competition, which is sponsored by the Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Mine rescue contests are designed to sharpen skills and test the knowledge of miners who may one day be called upon to respond to a real mine emergency. The contest requires six-member teams to solve a hypothetical rescue problem while being timed and observed by judges according to precise rules. The simulated problem involved trapped miners who had to be located and rescued.

State and federal mine safety experts evaluated each team as they worked through their rescue problem in a simulated mine environment. Teams were rated on adherence to safety procedures and how quickly they completed their task.

"Mine rescue contests are invaluable training exercises that enable both new and veteran teams to solve an elaborate problem when miners' lives are not on the line," said J. Davitt McAteer, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health. "These men and women are truly a special breed of people, often practicing on their own time, and always ready to respond at a moment's notice to save the lives of people they may not even know."

Joe Baca of Westinghouse Electric Corporation's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Carlsbad, N.M., took first place in the bench competition. Benchmen are charged with maintaining the rescue equipment. In the bench competition, participants must thoroughly inspect breathing devices that have been purposely tampered with, and they must correct those defects as quickly as possible.

Second and third place winners in the bench competition were Jeff Jetmore of Solvay Minerals, Inc., Green River, Wyo., and Melvin Lovato of TG Soda Ash's Wyoming Soda Ash Operations, Granger, Wyo.

The National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest is held in even-numbered 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 complete scores, standings and photographs of the 41 participating teams, visit MSHA's home page at www.msha.gov.