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MSHA News Release No. 2000-0619
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Monday, June 19, 2000

Mock Mine Disaster Puts Rescue Teams in Top Form for Actual Mine Emergencies

They've battled mine fires, contained underground floods and rescued their colleagues trapped beneath layers of rock or disoriented by toxic gas. Mine rescue teams are highly trained specialists with skills that enable them to save lives and recover mine property. Their technical expertise will be put to the test Wednesday, June 21 during the Ohio Valley Mine Rescue Contest, which takes place at the Belmont County Fairgrounds, 100 Fair St., St. Clairsville, Ohio.

Twenty-two teams from seven states–including three from Ohio and six from West Virginia–will compete in the annual two-day event, second only in size to the national coal mine rescue competition held on odd-numbered years in Louisville, Ky. (Teams listed separately.)

"As a spectator, you cannot help but marvel at the physical and emotional effort these men and women expend," said J. 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 these teams never know when they'll be called upon to rescue their colleagues who are injured or trapped underground."

> 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.

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.

> 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.

Activities Schedule
June 21

8 a.m. -- Mine Rescue Contest begins
June 22
9 a.m. -- Bench Contest begins

Participating Mine Rescue Teams

OHIO

Southern Ohio Coal Co., Meigs No. 2 Team
Morton Salt, Fairport "A" Team
Morton Salt, Fairport "B" Team

WEST VIRGINIA
Eastern Associated Coal Corp., Southern Appalachia Team
Eastern Associated Coal Corp., Federal No. 2 Team
Consolidation Coal Co., Blacksville No. 2 Team
Windsor Coal Co., Windsor Team
A.T. Massey Coal, Elk Run Team
U.S. Steel Mining Co., LLC, Pinnacle Team

PENNSYLVANIA
Consolidation Coal Co., Bailey Team
Consolidation Coal Co., Dilworth Team
Consolidation Coal Co., Enlow Fork Team
RAG Cumberland Resources, Cumberland Team
RAG Emerald Resources Lt., Emerald Team

KENTUCKY
Consol of Kentucky, Inc., Consol of Kentucky Team
Lodestar Energy, Inc., Baker Team

ILLINOIS
The American Coal Co., Galatia Team

VIRGINIA
Consolidation Coal Co., Buchanan No. 1 Team
Island Creek Coal Co., Island Creek - Consol Team
Lone Mountain Processing Inc.

ALABAMA
Jim Walter Resources, Inc., #4 Mine Team
U.S. Steel Mining Co., LLC, Oak Grove Teamng Association to evaluate education and training programs.