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DOL News Release No. 04-1220-NAT
U.S. Department of Labor
Contact: Suzy Bohnert
Phone: (202) 693-9420

Released Monday, July 6, 2004

Mine Rescuers Test Their Skills in Simulated Mine Emergency
National Competition Draws Teams from Around the Country


ARLINGTON, Va.--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. They undergo rigorous training to develop skills they hope they'll never use. From July 13-15, those skills will be put to the test during the 2004 National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest at the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority in Reno, Nev. The competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), will feature nearly 30 mine rescue teams from around the country.

"Mine rescue contests provide an opportunity to develop and hone the specialized skills of mine rescue teams and their members," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We conduct these contests to ensure rescue teams are well prepared if they are called upon to assist fellow miners in danger during a real mine emergency."

The contest consists of several events. In the field competition, six-member 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.

"I am continually awed by the commitment that mine rescue team members make to their profession and to the well-being of fellow miners," added Lauriski. "Mine rescuers unselfishly put their lives on the line to assist colleagues in distress. That effort is greatly appreciated."

Participating teams are required to register for the competition by mail or on July 12 at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino. The winners will be announced during a banquet at this hotel on July 15.

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 every two years.

Further information on the 2004 National Metal and Nonmetal Mine Rescue Contest is on the Internet at www.msha.gov.