2016 National Mine Rescue Contest News

Mine Rescue Competition Held in Reno
By Paul Nelson
July 26, 2016
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There are 37 mine rescue teams from 18 states in Reno, sharpening their skills in a variety of mine safety scenarios.  Mock underground mines have been created at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center to make the exercises as realistic as possible.

"It's a great learning experience," Robert Crommelin, Mine Rescue Coordinator at Klondex Mines said.  "It is fun.  It's exciting.  Our teams train for the day they hope never comes, to rescue another miner."

Mine companies are required to have mine rescue teams on staff.  The ones that participate in this national competition say going against other teams brings out the best in everyone.

"This gets them exposed to training," Mike Peck, Emergency Response and Hazmat Manager at Newmont Mining Corporation said.  "It also gets them thinking, and it also puts them in a stressful situation."

Wyatt Andrews is the Western District Manager for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Metal-Nonmetal.  He says there are about 100 underground mining fatalities each year in the United States.  That is down from approximately 1,000 deaths, about 25 years ago.  While the numbers have dropped substantially, he says there are still many hazards.

"These hazards are what gets these miners killed," Andrews said.  "It's explosions, it's roof falls, it's being run over by equipment, high wall incidents."

Officials say Tuesday's mine rescue operation was very technical.  It involved a mine fire that trapped six people.  The teams first responsibility is to watch out for each other, while checking a number of variables.

"They do what they need to do," Andrews said.  "They get to these people.  They have to ventilate, usually bring in fresh air, go in, rescue the survivors, bring them out, and we time the event."

This event has to be completed in 75 minutes.  The teams are judged on how they assess patients, how well they take gas readings and check stability.  Typically, the winning team has the fewest mistakes and the best time.

"We absolutely have a blast when we come out here," Peck said.  "National contests or any contests, we learn so much."

The mine rescue competition runs from Tuesday through Thursday and is open to the public, free of charge.  Along with the different events, there are also vendors and state-of-the-art safety equipment on display.