First place in mine rescue is the Alpha southern West Virginia Team.

The 104th national mine rescue competition brings dozens of teams to Kentucky to put their skills to the test

By Donna Schmidt, Field Editor

As the old saying goes, anything worth doing is worth doing right. Mine rescuers have always taken such thoughts to heart, with many committed to their skill sets and eager to keep them tested and polished for the day they continue to hope will never occur — a true mine emergency.

Put that intrepidness on the line at a national level, and it becomes the World Series of the mine rescue sector — also known as the National Coal Mine Rescue, First Aid, Bench and Preshift Competition, which recently wrapped up in Lexington, Kentucky’s Lexington Center.

From September 14-17, competitions challenged the teams with various tests of skills and knowledge. For example, competing teams faced a hypothetical mine emergency problem, then were rated on their compliance to outlined mine rescue procedures as well as their time to complete the tasks at hand.

The southeast Kentucky Team takes gold in the mine rescue combination division.The southeast Kentucky Team takes gold in the mine rescue combination division.

In the bench contest, the participants inspected and ensured the working ability of equipment such as multigas instruments and self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA), and first responders in the first-aid contest demonstrated the correct method of caring for an injured miner. Individual examiners also got to demonstrate their proficiency in identifying potential hazards before the start of a hypothetical shift in the preshift contest.

A total of 65 teams participated in the annual event (this year’s contest focused on coal mining teams), which collaboratively represented 12 U.S. states and some of the nation’s biggest coal complexes. Taking home the top prizes from this annual event were a group of top Appalachian crews: Alpha Natural Resources’ southern West Virginia Team from Whitesville, West Virginia, in first place for mine rescue, followed by second and third place winners Arch Coal Lone Mountain Processing’s Lone Mountain Team from Holmes Mill, Kentucky, and Arch Coal Beckley Complex’s Beckley Gold Team from Eccles, West Virginia.

The first place honor for Day 1 mine rescue goes to the Shoal Creek Red Team.The first place honor for Day 1 mine rescue goes to the Shoal Creek Red Team.

Other winners included Alliance Coal’s Warrior Coal Cardinal Team in the preshift competition, Kentucky Coal Academy’s MCC Team in the Bench Biopak 240R category, and Revelation Energy’s team from Kentucky in the Bench BG4 division testing.

In first aid, Cliffs Natural Resources’ Oak Grove Resources Oak Grove Blue Team was tops.

Two winners were selected for each day of the mine rescue scenarios; Day 1 mine rescue winner was Drummond Co.’s Shoal Creek Red Team and Day 2 mine rescue top honors went to Alpha Natural Resources’ southern West Virginia Team.

Finally, in the combination mine rescue/first aid contest, first place went to Mine Rescue Services’ southeast Kentucky Team.

A complete listing of all participating teams and winners can be found on page 25. A complete wrapup of all teams’ placements and times can be found at http://bit.ly/coal-rescue-results.

Many of the participants are not new to the competition, which is sponsored by the National Mining Association (NMA) and judged by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), attending regularly throughout their mining careers. While the nationals have had many home venues, the first such competition was held in 1910 and is now the largest national competition of its kind. Also, the mining industry held its first regular mine rescue competitions in 1911, with the inaugural event taking place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as dignitary attendee President William Taft looked on.

NMA President and CEO Hal Quinn told the teams, which totaled more than 600 individuals, as well as the crowds of guests and busy exhibit hall participants that mine rescue competitions of all sizes are crucial to keep skills polished.

“Until a day when serious mining accidents are problems of the past, we will be meeting like this — honoring your selfless dedication that has been on impressive display this week,” he said as he recognized the competition winners at a ceremony that officially concluded the event.

NMA was also on hand to detail the latest with its CORESafety program, which it calls a systems approach to mine safety. Launched to the mining industry in 2011, it now claims more than two-thirds of its association membership as active participants.

Bench BG4 first place winner Tony Lloyd. Taber Tichenor with the award for first place in Bench Biopak 240R. Alpha southern West Virginia captain Mark Bolen with the award for Day 2 mine rescue. Jeff Clark with the preshift first place honor.
Bench BG4 first place winner Tony Lloyd. Taber Tichenor with the award for first place in Bench Biopak 240R. Alpha southern West Virginia captain Mark Bolen with the award for Day 2 mine rescue. Jeff Clark with the preshift first place honor.

Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Joseph Main added that, while everyone hopes real-life disasters that the competition tests represent will never happen, preparation at such events will keep members sharp.

“Having been on the ground during a number of mine disasters and emergencies, I understand the importance of the skills competition that took place this week in Lexington,” he said. “I know firsthand what it means to call upon our mine rescuers at a moment’s notice after a fire, explosion or roof collapse, to travel miles underground to find and rescue missing miners.

“Our hats go off to those volunteers who worked hard to make the 2015 national contest a real success — from the competitors to the trainers, companies, vendors — and, most importantly, to the families who have supported the teams. We are a better industry as a result.”

“The National Mining Association welcomed the opportunity to sponsor this year’s National Coal Mine Rescue Contest,” added NMA Senior Vice President for Regulatory Affairs Bruce Watzman. “The high level of participation testified to the importance that the individuals and participating companies place on safety and mine rescue. The selfless dedication of all of the participants demonstrated the enduring spirit of our nation’s coal miners and we were honored to play a role in making this national contest a success.”


2015 National Coal Mine Rescue, First Aid, Bench and Preshift Competition Results: September 14-17

MINE RESCUE

OVERALL
First Place: Alpha Natural Resources, southern West Virginia Team
Captain: Mark Bolen
Second Place: Arch Coal Inc., Lone Mountain Processing, Inc., Lone Mountain Team
Captain: Jimmy Rouse
Third Place: Arch Coal Inc., Beckley Complex, Beckley Gold Team
Captain: Roy Smith

DAY 1
Drummond Company Inc., Shoal Creek Red Team
Captain: David Crowe

DAY 2
Alpha Natural Resources, southern West Virginia Team
Captain: Mark Bolen

COMBINATION COMPETITION

First Place: Mine Rescue Services LLC, southeast Kentucky Team
Mine Rescue Captain: Fred Shannon
First Aid Captain: Bryan Lewis
Second Place: Walter Energy, JWR Blue Creek Team
Mine Rescue Captain: Ricky Lewis
First Aid Captain: Joe Tingle
Third Place: Arch Coal Inc., Sentinel Complex Mine Rescue Team
Mine Rescue Captain: George Brooks
First Aid Captain: Josh Warner

FIRST AID COMPETITION

First Place: Cliffs Natural Resources – Oak Grove Resources LLC, Oak Grove Blue Team
Captain: Matt Miller
Second Place: Walter Energy, JWR Team No 4
Captain: Craig Slate
Third Place: Walter Energy, JWR Blue Creek Team
Captain: Joe Tingle

BENCH BG-4
First Place: Tony Lloyd
Revelation Energy LLC
Second Place: Duke Rich
Blue Mountain Energy Inc., Deserado Black Team
Third Place: Gary Valusek, Jr.
Alpha Natural Resources, Cumberland RD Team

BENCH 240-R
First Place: Taber Tichenor
Kentucky Coal Academy, MCC Team
Second Place: Barry Rowe
Arch Coal, Inc., Viper Red Team
Third Place: Matt Garner
White County Coal, Pattiki Mine Rescue Team

PRESHIFT COMPETITION

First Place: Jeff Clark
Alliance Coal Co. – Warrior Coal LLC, Cardinal Team
Second Place: Jason Grasha
Alpha Natural Resources, Cumberland RD Team
Third Place: Mike Moore
Excel Mining LLC, Excel Mine Rescue Team


National Coal Mine Rescue Competition Registered Teams (through September 1)

Alliance Coal Co., Tunnel Ridge Coal LLC, Tunnel Ridge Team, West Virginia
Alpha Natural Resources, South West Regional Team, Kentucky
Alpha Natural Resources, Maxxim Shared Services Team, Virginia
Alpha Natural Resources, Brooks Run South Black Team, West Virginia
Alpha Natural Resources, Rockspring Development, Inc., Rockspring Gold Team, West Virginia
Alpha Natural Resources, Cumberland JC Team, Pennsylvania
Alpha Natural Resources, Cumberland RD Team, Pennsylvania
Alpha Natural Resources, Emerald Team, Pennsylvania
Alpha Natural Resources, Southern West Virginia Team, West Virginia
Arch Coal Inc., Leer Mine Blue Team, West Virginia
Arch Coal Inc., Sentinel Complex Mine Rescue Team, West Virginia
Arch Coal Inc., Mountain Coal Co., West Elk Team, Colorado
Arch Coal Inc., Viper Red Team, Illinois
Arch Coal Inc., Lone Mountain Processing, Lone Mountain Team, Virginia
Arch Coal Inc., Mingo Logan Coal Co., Mountain Laurel Green Team, West Virginia
Arch Coal Inc., Beckley Complex – Beckley Gold Team, West Virginia
Bevill State Community College, State of Alabama Blue Team, Alabama
Bevill State Community College, State of Alabama Green Team, Alabama
BHP Billiton, San Juan Mine Rescue Team, New Mexico
Blackhawk Mining, Blackhawk Mine Rescue Team, Kentucky
Blue Mountain Energy, Inc., Deserado Black Team, Colorado
Bowie Resources Partners, Canyon Fuel Co. – Skyline Mine Black Team, Utah
Bowie Resources Partners, Canyon Fuel Co. – Sufco Mine, Sufco Black Team, Utah
Bowie Resources Partners, Black Mine Rescue Team, Colorado
Bridger Coal Co., Bridger Blue Team, Wyoming
Buckingham Coal Co., Team Red, Ohio
Cliffs Natural Resources, Oak Grove Resources, Oak Grove Blue Team, Alabama
Cliffs Natural Resources, Pinnacle Mining Co. Team, West Virginia
Consol Energy Inc., Buchanan Red Team, Virginia
Consol Energy Inc., Buchanan Black Team, Virginia
Consol of PA, Enlow Fork Green Team, Pennsylvania
Consol of PA, Enlow Fork Gold Team, Pennsylvania
Consol of PA, Bailey Blue Team, Pennsylvania
Consol of PA, Bailey White Team, Pennsylvania
Consol of PA, Harvey Blue Team, Pennsylvania
Consol of PA, Harvey Grey Team, Pennsylvania
Drummond Company Inc., Shoal Creek Black Team, Alabama
Drummond Company Inc., Shoal Creek Red Team, Alabama
Excel Mining LLC, Excel Mine Rescue Team, Kentucky
Gibson County Coal, Gibson County Rescue Rhinos Team, Indiana
Hopkins County Coal, Sebree Mining, Elk Creek/Sebree Team, Kentucky
KY Coal Academy, MCC Team, Kentucky
Knight Hawk Coal, Black Team, Illinois
McCoy Elkhorn Coal, McCoy Elkhorn Blue Team, Kentucky
Mettiki Coal WV, Mettiki Team No. 2 Team, West Virginia
Mine Rescue Services, Southeast KY Team, Kentucky
Patriot Coal Corp., Central Appalachia Team, West Virginia
Patriot Coal Corp., Northern Operations Federal No. 2 Team, West Virginia
Peabody Energy, Gateway Mine Rescue Team, Illinois
Peabody Energy, Francisco Mine Rescue Team, Indiana
Peabody Energy, Wildcat Hills Mine Rescue Team, Illinois
Peabody Energy, Twentymile No. 1 Team, Colorado
Prairie State Generating Co., Lively Grove Mine Rescue Team, Illinois
Revelation Energy, Kentucky
River View Coal, River View Team, Kentucky
Sunrise Coal Co., Sunrise Coal Mine Rescue Team, Indiana
TECO Coal, TECO Gray Team, Kentucky
Tri-State Coal Operators Association, Tri-State Mine Rescue Team, West Virginia
Walter Energy, JWR Team No. 4, Alabama
Walter Energy, JWR No. 7 Team, Alabama
Walter Energy, JWR Blue Creek Team, Alabama
Warrior Coal, Cardinal Team, Kentucky
Webster County Coal, Dotiki Team, Kentucky
Wellmore Coal Co., Wellmore Red Team, Virginia
Wellmore Coal Co., Wellmore Grey Team, Virginia
White County Coal, Pattiki Mine Rescue Team, Illinois