The full-day rescue exercise involved more than 150 federal and state officials, miners, local law enforcement, emergency responders and other personnel. Employees from across Arch’s national network of mines practiced their assigned roles, from mapping specialists to media spokespersons. Arch and the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College tested high-tech rescue and communication equipment, including hand-held, wireless devices. The devices allow for continuous mine condition updates—using a shared map—between underground rescue teams and the surface command center.

“Cumberland River was pleased to be the host site for Arch’s second voluntary drill of the year,” said Rick Johnson, general manager, Cumberland River Coal. “Arch’s vision is to operate the world’s safest coal mines. Our commitment to operating safely includes regularly refining our emergency plans and practicing the skills we hope to never use.” Arch Coal’s Cumberland River Coal subsidiary operates the Pine Branch mine.

This marks Arch’s fourth all-hands safety exercise in recent years. Each drill features a unique scenario providing challenges and twists over the course of the day. Actors and special effects, including smoke machines, create an intensity that simulates an actual emergency.