INA, Ill. – Mine Rescue teams from across Southern Illinois will compete next week at the Rend Lake College Mine Rescue Contest – both for training requirements and bragging rights. The contest will be held on Wednesday, July 22 at the Rec.
The five teams – Foresight Energy Blue Team, Foresight Energy White Team, Foresight Energy South Team, Illinois State Mine Inspector Rescue Team, and White Oak Resources Mine Rescue Team – will go into lock-up at 8 a.m. with the competition starting at 9 a.m. for the first two teams.
Don McBride, RLC Mining Technology Instructor, said each team will be kept in isolation until their turn to compete to give each team an equal playing field.
“There will be two fields set up so two teams can go at the same time. Both teams will come out of lock-up and see the field for the first time. Because we only have five teams competing, I would say the problem is going to be a little bit tougher, so a reasonable time to complete it would be an hour and a half,” said McBride.
Because the teams are made up of local, working miners, McBride said they’ll have to use learned skills from two fields to be successful.
“They are all underground miners, so they’ll have to bring their underground safe work practice skills with them to this competition, plus they’re all mine rescue teams, so they have another set of specific skills to use and draw from for this problem,” added McBride.
During the mock disaster, the teams will also be utilizing a new mapping system – one that many have not yet seen or used in an underground mine. Chris Nielsen, RLC Dean of Applied Science and Technology, said the new computerized system will be a part of the challenge for the teams.
“Unlike in traditional mine rescue competitions, our contest will use the new computerized mapping system instead of pencil and paper,” said Nielsen. “This will likely be the first contest for these teams to use it. During the disaster scenario, they will use the computer to map the mine for the rescue team to follow. They’ll have to map the ventilation and equipment as they explore to solve the problem we give them. There will probably be something that needs to be changed as part of that problem to make the mine safe, evacuate victims, or a number of other things.”
RLC is hosting the Mine Rescue Contest as part of the compliance requirements for the Brookwood-Sago Mine Safety Grant received last year. The grant was the third of its kind RLC’s Coal Mine Training Center has received in recent years, including a $92,247 grant in 2014; a $73,000 grant in 2012; and a $50,000 grant in 2009. The Brookwood-Sago grant is being supported by the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration.
The 2014 grant project, titled “Mine Emergency, Prevention, and Preparedness Project,” helped to restructure and expand on current mine training curriculum to challenge miners and rescue teams with necessary skills, such as patient extraction, advanced firefighting skills, rope rescue, smoke exploration, and confined space training.
Mine rescue teams are required to compete in contests every year to be considered an active team. The event will be held rain or shine. For more information, RLC’s Applied Science and Technology Division at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1261.