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DOL/MSHA Media Advisory
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (202) 693-9423

Released Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Mine Rescuers Test Their Skills in Mock Mine Emergency

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio - Far beneath the earth's surface where miners extract coal, the working environment can change in an instant. In the case of a fire, roof collapse or explosion, specially trained teams of rescuers may make the difference between life and death. On June 18 and 19, 2003, that technical expertise will be put to the test at the Ohio Valley Mine Rescue, First Aid and Bench Contest, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration and held at the Belmont County Fairgrounds.

"These competitions are invaluable training exercises for mine rescue teams," said Dave L. Lauriski, assistant labor secretary for mine safety and health. "Naturally, we hope their skills will never be needed, but their fellow miners can feel confident knowing that, even in practice, they demand of themselves the highest standards in mine safety."

Twenty-two teams from Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, and Alabama will compete in the two-day contest, including the rescue team on site at last summer's dramatic rescue of nine coal miners trapped underground for three days in Somerset, Pa.

Mine rescue competitions test the knowledge of highly trained teams of miners who have studied and practiced to respond to a mine emergency. Teams must solve a hypothetical mine emergency problem while judges rate them on their adherence to mine rescue procedures and how quickly they complete specific tasks. In the bench contest, miners who maintain rescue equipment must thoroughly inspect breathing devices and correct 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.

Schedule of Events
June 18 - 8 a.m., Mine Rescue begins
June 19 - 8 a.m., Bench begins; 10 a.m. First Aid begins