2013 National M/NM Mine Rescue Contest

Miners Test Emergency Skills in Reno Competition
By Chris Ciarlo
July 31, 2013

Mining is a vital part of Nevada's economy, but in a flash, many things can go wrong miles beneath the ground.

That's why 31 teams of miners are in Reno this week putting their emergency skills to the test.

The 2013 Mine and Nonmetal National Mine Rescue Competition is grueling for competitors Who are trying to make few mistakes, all while racing against the clock.

It's a test that pushes miners mentally and physically, preparing them for what a real emergency might feel like.

"They live for this," said Joseph Riney of the Nevada Mining Association.  "It's one of those things that a team doesn't get a chance to test themselves until there's an emergency.  So outside of an emergency, which I'm happy to say, metal, nonmetal emergencies are not very frequent, so they don't get a chance to test their skills.  So, here they are today and they're being put to the test."

The field competition forces teams to solve hypothetical mine emergency problems while judges score them on how well they do.

In the technician competition, miners must make necessary checks of equipment such as multi-gas instruments and self-contained breathing apparatuses and supplies to see that everything is working properly.

"We put those in these problems.  We simulate bad roof, caveins, inundation of water, gases.  Uh, you know name it, we put it in, vary it up and we make these teams struggle," said Mike Davis, director of the competition.

Glen Booher is an underground miner in northeastern Washington.  He said they are one of only two mines still mining for gold in Washington State.

"If we ever needed to use our skills, then hopefully this all pays off at that point, but we hope to never have to use these skills."