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Ohio Mine Safety Training Center Hosts Annual Regional Safety Competition

Ohio hosted the 30th Annual Ohio Valley Mine Rescue Post 6 regional mine safety competition at the Jerry L. Stewart Ohio Mine Safety Training Center in Harrison County, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Mineral Resources Management.

This regional competition drew 31 teams representing mining operators in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois, Maryland and Virginia. The Eastern Associated Coal, LLC, team #2 took top honors for their mine rescue skills.

“We were pleased to host the Ohio Valley Mine Rescue contest at our Cadiz facility for the second year in a row; it’s a great opportunity for Ohio’s mine rescue teams,” said Deputy Chief Lanny Erdos, from the Division of Mineral Resources Management. “These types of training experiences will help keep them safe on the job.”

Five Ohio teams participated this year; two teams placed in the mine rescue competition’s top 10. Ohio Valley Coal Co.’s Powhatan #6 Mine team placed fifth and the team from Hopedale Mining placed ninth.

Each mine rescue team consists of seven members, six rescue workers head into a mine while one serves as the briefing officer outside of the mine. According to members of the Hopedale Mining rescue team, their first priority is team safety, followed by victim assessment and rescue.

“Competitions like this prepare us for an actual emergency,” said Butch Dyre, safety coordinator for Hopedale Mining. “We’re just hoping it’s always practice and competition.”

Teams were tested in a variety of activities including mine rescue, breathing apparatus troubleshooting, first aid and pre-shift contests which tested mining officials in identifying hazards before mining begins. The event is coordinated by the National Mine Rescue Association’s Post 6 region.

“We have not been able to offer realistic simulations in the past, such as smoke training, however, state-of-the art facilities like the Cadiz center now makes those training activities for miners possible,” said Brad DeBusk, president of Post 6. “ODNR’s facility allows us to better train our miners for mine emergencies, and we appreciate its availability to other mine rescue teams.”

The facility has two 158-ft. x 200-ft. simulated mines that provide an opportunity to offer critical hands-on training. There are also four classrooms, which allow ODNR staff to conduct informative training sessions regarding the Ohio mining industry and mining safety. Additionally, the site is home base for one of the division’s four mine rescue stations which house the equipment needed to respond to underground mining emergencies.

Regional mine safety competitions help develop and test the skills of mine rescue teams by using simulated mine emergency conditions, such as those found at the simulated mines set up at ODNR’s facility. Competition judges include officials from U.S. Department of Labor, West Virginia Office Miners Health, Safety and Training, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and ODNR.