Last week, 19 teams from across the nation gathered at Cove Lake State Park to compete in the local Mine Rescue Contest.
The Tennessee State Mine Inspectors hosted the contest.
From Tuesday to Thursday, teams from West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama competed in a variety of competitions. These contests included the bench, pre-shift and first aid competitions, which were held on Tuesday.
The first aid contest involved treating simulated injuries. During the pre-shift contest, team members looked for hazards in a simulated mine in order to secure it for the next shift. The bench contest consisted of checking equipment for potential hazards. Judges put bugs, or defects, in equipment, and contestants searched for them.
On Wednesday and Thursday, teams competed in the Mine Rescue Contest. This competition involved a simulated mine. The teams were given 80 minutes to navigate through replicated hazards, involving gas and unstable roofing, to get to an injured miner.
Officials from the Mine Safety and Health Administration judged the contest.
Each year, there are about 30 mine rescue competitions across the nation, said Dennis Sullens, from Cliffs Natural Resources in Alabama.
The goal of the contests is to promote mine safety.
Federal law requires every mine rescue team to participate in at least two contests a year.
A mine rescue team functions as a mine’s fire department.
“If a mine catches on fire, you’re not going to call the fire department,” Sullers said. They’re not trained to handle that. That’s when the real professionals take over.”
Volunteers comprise the mine rescue teams, and members have to be employed by the coal industry, Sullers said.