2016 WKMI Safety Days Mine Rescue Contest News

Rescue teams gather for mine 'safety days'
The Messenger
By Heather Scott
May 26, 2016
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The Kentucky Coal Academy and Western Kentucky Mining Institute hosted a "safety days" contest Wednesday where teams from Western Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois competed to test their mine rescue skills.

Mine rescue contests are held throughout mining areas all over the country and include both coal mines and metal/non-metal mines, according to WKMI President Keith Taylor.

"The mine rescue contest is set up like a simulated mine that you would see underground," Taylor said.  "In this scenario, a disaster has occurred at the mine where men are possibly trapped.  These rescue teams are trained to go into the mine with zero oxygen to assess the situation and look for survivors."

Each team explores the "mine" setup, takes a gas check, reestablishes ventilation as necessary and accounts for any missing personnel, Taylor said.

"They will travel systematically into the mine and go through all of the required checks," Taylor continued.  "The teams are scored based on the amount of time it takes them, how they perform each check and if they do the checks correctly."

Along with the mine rescue contest, teams also compete in benchman, first-aid and pre-shift contests, according to Taylor.

"The benchman is the guy who takes care of the breathing apparatus -- every team has one and he is in charge of making sure they get oxygen correctly," Madisonville Community College Mine Rescue Team Director Danny Knott said.  "They will break down the machines and correct any 'bugs' in the apparatus, put it back together and make sure it's functioning properly."

A total of 12 teams will compete in the various mine contests over a two-day period and the winning teams are presented with trophies at the conclusion of the final contest.

"This is one of the oldest contests probably in the United States and we have been doing this since around the '50s," Knott said.  "This is the first year having it at the MCC complex.  We normally have it at the Hopkins County fairgrounds."

The judges for the events are members of the Kentucky Division of Mine Safety, Mine Safety and Health Administration and Western Kentucky Mining Institute, according to Knott.

"These competitions occur all across the nation and each mine rescue team is required to do two of them a year," Knott said.  "This helps give the teams the knowledge and the cooperation to work together to be prepared for a more stressful situation in the event of an emergency."

The mine rescue teams continue to show dedication to the mining community and have been called on locally numerous times in recent years to assist, Taylor said.

"This is excellent training for these rescue teams," Taylor continued.  "They get exposure and the chance to practice the skills they have learned to be able to better apply them to real-life situations."

The Kentucky Coal Academy MCC complex is located at 150 School Ave.