The Illinois Basin (ILB) facility joins similar locations in Beckley, West Virginia; Price, Utah; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and will include a emergency unit team truck, surface communication system, a first response underground communication system, infrared gas monitoring and a mobile gas chromatograph laboratory.
The station is housed at Madisonville Community College’s Coal Mine Academy, where Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph Main hosted an open house this fall.
He spoke at length with those in attendance about MSHA’s mission to enhance the nation’s mine rescue capabilities. Main said that his push for betterment began almost six years ago when he took his current role as the agency’s leader.
“I determined we needed an analysis of mine rescue preparedness to identify gaps in the nation’s mine emergency capabilities, [and] along with the mine rescue community, we began to make improvements to fill those gaps,” Main said, adding that it has considered all of the feedback it has received from the stakeholder meetings held in the time since at MSHA’s Mine Academy in southern West Virginia.
Some of the results of that initiative are already in place, including the formation of the Holmes Mine Rescue Association, the updating of national mine rescue contest outlines and the deployment of mine rescue technology with the help of industry partners.
“Following input from the mine rescue community, we updated mine rescue team certification criteria by revising the IG 7 — Advanced Mine Rescue Training (Coal Mines),” Main noted. “We also developed IG 7a — Advanced Skills Training (AST) Activities also for coal mine rescue teams. These added new skills training components to better prepare our mine rescue teams.” The new ILB station is part of a greater vision, Main said, to establish facilities nationwide — all equipped with the technological capabilities needed for teams to respond more quickly — as well as keeping on the cutting edge of technology.