Mine rescue event coming to Cove Lake

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By Susan Sharp

Next week, 22 teams from coal mining states across America will converge on Cove Lake State Park.

The Tennessee Department of Mines will be hosting the groups as they compete in a mine rescue competition.

It is the first time since 1997 that Campbell County, more specifically Caryville, has hosted the two-day event scheduled for Sept. 22 and 23.

“This has always been a favorite spot for the competition,” said Oscar Fredricks of the TDOM. “The excitement for this is really building.”

In March, a planning committee began laying the foundation for the two-day event. With each passing week the plans have become solidified as the registration roster grew.

With only 50 rescue competitions held annually across the United States, Fredricks said having one held in Campbell County makes sense because of the area’s rich mining history.

While the teams will be competing for prizes and bragging rights, there is even more at stake. The skills the teams and individuals are tested on are the skills they utilize when a mining disaster occurs.

“These teams get better as they compete,” Fredricks said.

The events will range from finding a flaw in a breathing apparatus to the simulation of rescue team being activated. Along the way, the men responsible for securing the mine for day’s work and first aid responders will also have the opportunity to challenge themselves.

As teams come from mid western states such as Illinois and Indiana to compete, Kentucky, Alabama, and the Volunteer state will also be strongly represented, said Loretta Roark of the Kentucky Mine Safety and Health Administration.

With the start of the competition less than a week away, Fredricks said donations of some items are still needed. “We need about 100 folding chairs and 20 tables,” he said. On the list of not so common items, organizers still need to secure around 100 traffic cones that will be used to outline the perimeter of the course.

While the focus of the event is on the skills the teams will enhance as they compete, the competition is not just for them.

Other areas such as a tent sponsored by CHET will have blood pressure checks, Black Lung information and face painting for children.

The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the mine rescue competition or to donate items call Fredricks at 566-9709.