2014 Robert Earl Jones Mine Rescue Contest

White County Coal comes out on top at mine rescue contest
May 15, 2014

See Top Finishing Teams

INA, IL (KFVS) - Nine Coal Mining teams competed head-to-head on Wednesday, May 14 in the annual Robert Earl Jones Mine Rescue Contest, held at the Rend Lake College Sports Center in Ina.

Despite dreary weather, Team Pattiki of White County Coal in Carmi placed first, followed by Peabody Energy’s team Wildcat Hills of Eldorado in second and Peabody’s team Gateway Mine of Coulterville in third.

The Mine Rescue Contest places the teams in a mock danger simulation where they race against the clock to save survivors who have been trapped in a mine after an event such as a fire or an explosion.  Beforehand, the teams were held in a separate room from the course, so they couldn’t see the obstacles or other teams, and they gathered for lunch after completion.

John Smith, State of Illinois Mine Rescue Supervisor and State Mine Inspector, said the hands-on training is great experience for miners who may end up in similar situations while on the job.

“Today was a test for these miners where we simulated a hazardous scene and the teams went in to search and rescue those who couldn’t get out on their own,” Smith said.  “Everything is governed by a set of rules and the miners have to explore the field by these rules, or they are docked points.  It teaches them training and teamwork, and to always expect the unexpected.”

There are four similar contests every year, two in mine rescue and two in skills training.  RLC hosts a skills contest in the fall and the rescue contest in the spring.  There is also a state contest held in Marion in September and a national contest every other year in Columbus, Ohio.

Don McBride, Mining Technology Instructor, added the experience of competing in the rescue contest is unlike anything the miners would find elsewhere.

“These teams encountered things that, in real life, would put them in danger and put others they’re trying to save in danger, and they’ve got to think on their feet,” McBride said.  “It’s good practice for them.”

The event was hosted for the eighth year at RLC, said Chris Nielsen, Dean of Applied Science and Technology, a streak that he is looking forward to lengthening in the future.

“Rend Lake College has hosted this event for eight years, and we hope to do it for another eight and beyond,” Nielsen said.  “It’s part of our mission to serve the industry, and this is an excellent way for us to get involved.  It’s also a good collaboration between miners and the college, and it brings people from across campus together to help put this on.  It’s an excellent event, and we’re proud to host it.”

The nine teams who competed came from eight companies in Illinois and Indiana.  They are:
  • Team Pattiki from White County Coal of Carmi – 1st place
  • Team Wildcat Hills from Peabody Energy of Eldorado – 2nd place
  • Team Gateway Mine from Peabody Energy of Coulterville – 3rd place
  • Team Galacia from America Coal of Harrisburg
  • Team Viper from Arch Coal of Williamsville
  • Team Black from Knight Hawk of Culter
  • Team Mach M-Class from Mach Mining of Johnson City
  • Team Indiana State from Sunrise Coal-Triad of Vincennes, Ind.
  • Team White Oak from White Oak Resources of McLeansboro